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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Chernovtsy

Occupations - Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Polish Jews - Austrian rule with discriminations - split between Orthodox and Enlightenment - Romanian law since 1918 with persecutions - Sovietization 1940 - Holocaust 1941-1944 - destructions within the second Sovietization since 1945

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Czernovtsy,
                  vol. 5, col. 393. The Great Synagogue of Chernovtsy.
                  Jerusalem, Yad Vashem Archives.
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Czernovtsy, vol. 5, col. 393. The Great
Synagogue of Chernovtsy. Jerusalem, Yad Vashem Archives.

from: Chernovtsy; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 5

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)

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[Occupations - influx of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews - influx of Polish Jews]

<CHERNOVTSY (Ger. Czernowitz; Rum. Cernauti (Cernãuþi), city in Ukrainian S.S.R., formerly capital of *Bukovina; under Austrian rule, 1775-1918, and in Rumania [[Romania]] from 1918-1940 and 1941-1944.

[[Since 1940 Bukovina is parted, the north with Chernovtsy in Ukraine, the south in Romania]].

Jews are mentioned in Chernovtsy from 1408, and larger numbers - both Ashkenazim [[expelled in central Europe]] and Sephardim [[expelled in Spain and Portugal]] - settled there in the course of that century. Later the Chernovtsy community assumed a distinctly Ashkenazi character, with Yiddish as the spoken language.

The "Breasla jidoveasca", as the community was called in Rumanian [[Romanian]], was first headed by an elder (starost).

The second half of the 17th century brought Jewish immigrants and culture from Poland.

[Expulsions during Russian-Turkish wars 1766-74 - Austrian rule since 1775 with discrimination laws]

The Russian-Turkish wars (1766-74) caused severe hardship and the Jews had to leave Chernovtsy for a time.

After the area came under Austrian rule in 1775 the Austrian military regime immediately began a policy of discrimination with the avowed aim of "clearing" Bukovina of Jews. The measures were resisted by the community which attempted to obtain their revocation by the central government in Vienna. Nevertheless, a number of Jews from Galicia immigrated to Bukovina in this period, and many settled in Chernovtsy. Despite the restrictions still in force the Jews there acquired real property and engaged in large-scale commercial transactions.

[Napoleon - reforms and split of the community - rabbis - enlightenment reforms - university - racist Zionists]

After 1789 the community was reorganized on the Austrian communal pattern. In 1812, during the Napoleonic wars, Jewish goods and property  were plundered by the Russian Army.

Tension arose within the community between the Hasidim (Ḥasidim) [[orthodox]] and maskilim [[enlightenment]] around the beginning of the 19th (col. 393)

century and later intensified. In 18u53 the community converted its hospice for the sick, founded in 1791, into a full-scale hospital. An imposing synagogue was built in 1853, in addition to the many other houses of prayer. The community's first cemetery dated from 1770, and a second was opened in 1866.

*Hayyim (Ḥayyim) b. Solomon Tyrer (also referred to as Hayyim (Ḥayyim) Czernowitzer) served as rabbi from 1789 to 1807.

Cultural life developed after 1848, along with trends toward assimilation and the penetration of Haskalah [[enlightenment]] attitudes to wider circles. Abraham *Goldfaden, one of the leaders of the Haskalah movement in Bukovina, was active in Chernovtsy. The foundation of a university there in 1875 attracted Jewish students throughout Bukovina and had a stimulating and diversifying influence on the social and cultural life of the community.

From the end of the 19th century student organizations played an important part in the [[racist]] Zionist movement there.

[Split of the community in Orthodox and Reform sections - scholars - synagogue - Yiddish language - careers]

In 1872 the community split into independent Orthodox and Reform sections. The scholar Eliezer Elijah Igel served as rabbi of the Reform community for a time. A splendid Reform Temple was opened in 1877. It was destroyed by the Nazis [[and their collaborators]] in 1941.

The *Czernowitz Yiddish language conference held in 1908 proclaimed Yiddish to be the national language of the Jewish people. [[Racist]] Zionism [[which was headed against the Yiddish language]] made headway in the city despite opposition from the assimilationist and Orthodox elements.

Jews also took an active part in public affairs. As early as 1897 one of the Jewish leaders, Benno *Straucher, was returned to the Austrian parliament as representative for Chernovtsy (1897-1914). Jews there joined the various socialist movements; the *Bund was also active in the city. Elections to the municipal council were strongly contested by the various Jewish parties.

[First World War in Chernovtsy - Jewish flight to the countryside]

During World War I, when the city passed from hand to hand between the Russians and Austrians (September to November 1914), the community suffered great hardship, and many left their city.

[Romanian law since 1918 with persecution of the Jews]

After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918 the soldiers of the Rumanian Army who entered Chernovtsy behaved brutally toward the Jews and started a wave of persecution. After incorporation of the city into Rumania [[Romania]] and with the institution of the civil government, the situation of the Jews improved.

One of the prominent personalities of Chernovtsy Jewry in general was the [[racist]] Zionist leader Meir *Ebner, editor of a German-language Jewish newspaper there. Other outstanding personalities who represented the Jews in the Rumanian [[Romanian]] parliament were the historian Manfred *Reifer, and the socialist leader Jacob "Pistiner.


The community numbered 14,449 in 1880; 17,359 in 1890; 21,587 in 1900 (31.9% of the total population; 28,613 in 1910 (32.8%); and 43,701 in 1919 (47.4%).

[Hebrew printing - Hebrew and Yiddish periodicals]

Hebrew works were printed in Chernovtsy for over a century, from 1835 to 1939, and nearly 340 items were issued by nine publishers and printers. Of these the most important was the house of Eckhardt (Peter, Johann, and Rudolf, 1835-92), where, with the help of Jewish experts, there were printed a complete Babylonian Talmud (1839-48), a Bible with standard commentaries (1839-42), the Mishnah with commentaries (1840-46), and other important rabbinic and kabbalistic-Hasidic (Ḥasidic) works; at a later stage some Haskalah [[enlightenment]] literature was also printed there, and some Hebrew and Yiddish periodicals.


Holocaust Period.

[Soviet withdrawal - 5 days pogroms of gangs against Jews - German occupation since 5 July 1941 - mass murder on the Jewish intelligentsia]

[[The split of Bukovina and the Sovietization of the northern part with Chernovtsy  of 1940 and the Stalin deportations 1940-1941 are not mentioned in the article. See: *Bukovina]].

In 1941 the Jewish population numbered 50,000, due to the influx of Jews from the smaller towns and villaged in Bukovina. On the night of June 30, 1941, the Soviet Army vacated Chernovtsy.

[[Within this withdrawal of the Soviet Army (Big Flight from Barbarossa) were many Jews, also in the occupation staff]].

The following day gangs broke into Jewish homes, looting and burning them.

On July 5, the first units of the German and Rumanian [[Romanian]] armies entered the town, accompanied by Einsatzkommando 10b, which was a section of Einsatzgruppe (col. 394)

D. This unit fulfilled its task of inciting the Rumanians [[Romanians]] against the Jews;

[[but as it seems they had tolerated the wild gangs already for 5 days...]]

on the pretext that the Jews were plotting against the government, they murdered the Jewish intelligentsia. The reports of Einsatzkommando 10b contain data on the mass murders carried out in cooperation with the Rumanian [[Romanian]] gendarmes and police. On July 8 and 9, the Einsatzkommando shot 100 Jews and another 400 were shot by the Rumanian [[Romanian]] Army. On August 1, 682 Jews were murdered and on August 29, the number of victims in Chernovtsy and the district reached 3,106.

However, the number was far higher than that listed in the official reports; between 2,000 and 3,000 Jews were slaughtered during the first 24 hours after the entry of the German and Rumanian [[Romanian]] armies, in house-to-house operations. The victims, who included the chief rabbi of Bukovina, Abraham Mark, the chief cantor and leaders of the community, were buried in four mass graves in the Jewish cemetery. The murders were accompanied by looting, robbery, and vandalism.

[Discrimination measures - ghetto - deportations to Transnistria - exemptions and corruption]

On July 30, when the anti-Jewish measures introduced by *Antonescu's government went into effect, hostages were taken from among Jewish leaders. Jews were compelled to do forced labor and to wear the yellow *badge. The authorities permitted Jews to be sent on the streets only between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. Jews were hunted down in the streets and houses.

On October 11 the Jews were concentrated in a ghetto; their property was confiscated; and deportations to *Transnistria began. On October 14, 1941, the chairman of the Union of Jewish Communities, Wilhelm Filderman, obtained a cessation of deportations, but the decision was carried out only a month later, and by November 15, 1941, about 30,000 Jews had been deported. The mayor of Chernovtsy, Traian Popovici, also attempted to stop deportations, issuing about 4,000 certificates of exemption from deportation, but the officials of the municipality, the police, and the gendarmerie extorted enormous sums of money in return for these exemptions. Many Jews were deported even after they paid the ransom.

The cessation of deportations caused the breakup of the ghetto. Jews who returned from the ghetto to their destroyed and looted homes were forced to contribute their clothing and bed linen to the aid committee headed by Antonescu's wife. The contributions collected by the community for rehabilitating its institutions were also confiscated for this purpose, while the removal of Jews from any kind of economic activity caused a serious worsening of their material condition.

After a short break, deportations were resumed and about 4,000 Jews were deported in three waves between June 17 and 27, 1942. The deportees included some who had exemption certificates issued by Popovici, which became invalid after he was removed from his post. Some of the deportees were taken to camps east of the Bug River (an area occupied by the Germans) where children up to the age of 15, old people, invalids, women, and those unfit for work were systematically murdered. About 60 percent of the deportees from Chernovtsy of Transnistria perished there.

[[Children and youth often was sent to farms. Resistance and hideouts, change of names or change of religion are not mentioned in the article]].

Most survivors who returned did not resettle in Chernovtsy, which had in the meantime been annexed to the Ukrainian Republic in the Soviet Union, but went to Rumania [[Romania]] and from there to Erez Israel (Ereẓ Israel).


[[The Jews returning from central Russia in 1946 and probable new pogroms are not mentioned in the article]].

Contemporary Period.

[Second sovietization since 1945 - destruction of most of the Jewish community structures]

[[...]] In 1949 there were six synagogues functioning regularly. Except for one, all were closed by the authorities in the 1950s [[within the anti-Jewish policy after racist Zionist Free Mason CIA Herzl Israel became a satellite of the criminal "USA"]],

and the Torah scrolls were removed to the municipal museum. [[...]]

In 1952 the Choral Synagogue was converted into a sports (col. 395)

club, and the Reform Temple was converted into a movie theater; two other synagogues were converted into a mechanical workshop and a storehouse. In 1959all mohalim [[ritual experts in circumcision]] were ordered to register with the authorities and to report the names of the circumcised babies. In the same year, the Great Synagogue, as well as its mikveh [[ritual bath]], was closed down. The baking of mazzot (maẓẓot) [[unleavened bread]] was prohibited.

In the following year burial services in the cemetery were stopped by the authorities and its employees were dismissed. This action followed in the wake of an article published in Kiev's main newspaper, Pravda Ukrainy [[Ukrainian Truth]], condemning religious burials and recommending general cemeteries for all parts of the population. Nonetheless, the Warsaw Yiddish newspaper Folkshtime [[People's Voice]] reported in May 1964 that a Jewish literary evening took place in Chernovtsy, with the participation of Jewish writers, such as Moshe Altman, Meir Kharats, Yosl Lerner, A. Melamed, and Meshullam Surkis. In 1965 Jews were officially permitted to pray in minyanim [[worship services of 10 or more Jews]], but the imposition of high taxes prevented organized baking of mazzot (maẓẓot) [[unleavened bread]] in 1966.

The former Jewish Artisans' Club served as the railway worker's club and the former Jewish Club became the tailors' cooperative club. (col. 396)

In 1970 the Jewish population of Chernovtsy was estimated at 70,000. [[...]]

In 1970 there was a small synagogue left open with seats for 50-60 people. (col. 395)

In 1970 kasher [[according Jewish nutrition rules]] poultry was available and the mikveh [[ritual bath]] was functioning. On the High Holidays, thousands of Jews, among them many youths, congregated near the small synagogue, causing several streets to be closed to traffic.

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-- H. Gold (ed.): Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina [[History of the Jews in Bukovina]], 2 vols. (1958-62), includes bibliography
-- Getzler, ibid., 2 (1962), 53
-- Lavie, ibid., 2 (1962), 70-3
-- E. Herbert, in: Journal of Jewish Bibliography, 2 (1940), 110 ff.
-- M. Carp: Cartea Neagrã, 3 (1947), 135-9, 153-82
-- Zehavi-Goldhammer, in: Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 4 (1950), 89-209, includes bibliography
-- J.J. Cohen, in: Aresheth, 3 (1961), 277-375
-- M. Mircu: Pogromurile ... din Bucovina ºi Dorohoi (1945).

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                          Czernovtsy, vol. 5, col. 393-394
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Czernovtsy, vol. 5, col. 393-394
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                          Czernovtsy, vol. 5, col. 395-396
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Czernovtsy, vol. 5, col. 395-396

http://www.arlindo-correia.com/181105.html  (Juden aus der Bukowina und Tschernowitz in Sibirien)

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