The Towns of Our Ancestors

By Bill Farran

Lanckorona, Poland -or- Zarechanka, Ukraine:
A Mystery Solved

The Polish village of Lanckorona had been the “Brick Wall” of my research, or in this case, my Wooden Wall.

image001As an artist, my focus has been the wooden synagogues of Eastern Europe; as a genealogist and researcher, the cultural history of the towns and villages, and the Jews who prayed within those wooden synagogues became increasingly important as I created my woodcuts and linocuts.

Lanckorona is located in the Polish Carpathian Mountain.  Today the village is a tourist attraction because of its medieval layout and well preserved traditional wooden architecture, especially in the center of the village. In 1999 Lanckorona Hill with its medieval castle ruins were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

It was a market town having two fairs each and several large trading fairs during the year.  None of the merchants or buyers were Jewish. There was no mention of any synagogue in the village and it was noted that the few Jewish citizens of Lanckorona prayed in Brody or Calvary. When a citizen passed away, the burial took place in Zator.  The JewishGen Data base makes no mention of Lanckorona as a place of Jewish settlement.

Year Total population Percentage of Jews
1880 1576 1%
1900 1646 0.9%
1921 1617 0.6 %

In fact, the entire region, although close to Krakow, contained very few Jewish people, and yet several important Jewish sites state that Lanckorona had a Wooden Synagogue.  Not just a synagogue – but a large one that had a major stone and wooden addition on its western wall!

Thus the question arose: Why would a village with hardly enough Jews to make a minion have a large wooden synagogue?

As I searched for answers, I hit the “wooden wall”. There was no definitive explanation for this question. Granted it may not be as serious as not being able to find Great Uncle Chaim’s family, but a Wall is a Wall.

image003The basis for identifying this as the Lanckorona synagogue was a postcard showing a wooden synagogue in Lanckorona, Poland before World War II.  Thus, researchers, including myself, took for granted that this synagogue was located in Lanckorona.  However, it never made sense to me because of the lack of Jews in the region.

Recently, in September 2016, I visited the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan to see a Jewish culinary exhibit titled, “Nourishing Traditions”, based on a glowing review by Marjorie Ingall. After viewing the exhibit and others within the Center, I went upstairs to the reading room and entered “wooden synagogues” in their data base. The result was finding a book called: Wooden Synagogues [Masterpieces of Jewish Art] (English and Russian Edition), 1993; author Z. Yargina

This was an exciting find because the book is very rare. Selling on Amazon for $395 new and $249 used, its high price put the book far down on my bucket list.  As I thumbed through the book I quickly came across a photo of Lanckorona. I then looked at the name of the synagogue and it stated that it located in Laskorun Ukraine.  It further stated that the synagogue was built beginning in the late 17th Century and completed in  early 18th Century, with additions to the western wall were added later.

I was struck by the similar spellings—Lanckorona and Laskorun.  Was my wooden wall about to crumble, or was I beating my head on a wooden wall?

Once home the research began.  I first turned to JewishGen Community finder.  I entered Laskorun into the data base and came up with:

Zarechanka, Ukraine

Alternate names: Zarechanka [Rus, since 1944], Zarichanka [Ukr], Lyantskorun [Rus, before 1944], Lantzekronia [Yid], Lanckoruń [Pol], Laskorun, Lantskorun, Zaricanka   Region: Podolia
  Town District Province Country
Before WWI (c. 1900): Lyantskorun Kamenets Podolskiy Podolia Russian Empire
Between the wars (c. 1930): Lyantskorun Kamenets-Podolski Ukraine SSR Soviet Union
After WWII (c. 1950): Zarechanka Soviet Union
Today (c. 2000): Zarichanka Ukraine
Jewish Population in 1900: 1,893
Notes: 48°54’N 26°23’E Russian: Лянцкорун. Ukrainian: Зарічанка.
18 miles NNW of Kamyanets-Podilskyy, 7 miles S of Chemerivtsi.

The mystery finally was solved and the Wooden Wall broken through!

The Ukrainian village today known as Zarichanka was alternately known as Lyantskorun in the Russian Empire and Lyantskorona, Soviet Union, prior to WWII. The name Lyantskorun appeared in the first half of 18th Century, when the village owners were the Lyantskoronsky Family.  During the town’s liberation from the Nazis by the Soviet Army, it was renamed Zarechanka.

The Yiddish name, Lantzekronia and the Polish name Lanckorun, are both so similar to Lanckorona, that it is easy to see how an error could have been made.

image005In the final analysis, Zarechanka, Ukraine, was a Jewish shtetl and the true location of the “Lancarona Synagogue”.  By 1897 half the town was Jewish and by 1926 about 96% of the population was Jewish. During the Holocaust the Nazis wiped out any and all Jewish presence in Zarechanka   After searching the web, using new town name’s  I was able to come up with the following pictures of Zarichanka.  There are even Jews in the photos.

image009 image011

Convinced that I have knocked down my Wooden Wall and solved the mystery, I now have to change my web site information and let others know about my findings.

Link to the book referenced:

Wooden Synagogues [Masterpieces of Jewish Art] (English and Russian Edition)    1993 by Z. Yargina.