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Notes regarding the translation of the writings of the late Rabbi Israel Harnik concerning the history of the Radauti, Romania, Jewish community:

Several years ago, I helped coordinate the translation of a book chapter about the history of the Jewish community of Radauti, Romania. This chapter appeared in Hugo Gold's two volume work, “A History of the Jews in the Bukowina”, and appears online at http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Bukowinabook/buk2_092.html. In the first paragraph, the author, Alter Wasserman, noted “The sources for this report stem solely and only from oral information. There was no Pinkas, the chronicle of the community, as is used in other large communities. This the community Radautz had not. The Rabbi Harnik (of blessed memory) did indeed try to write about Jewish life of the town, but after his demise, such notes were not found.” Several months after coordinating the translation of the Wasserman chapter, and the posting of this chapter on the JewishGen yizkor book web site, I visited the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, then located on the campus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I was surprised and elated to find the Memoranda of the late Rabbi Harnik at the Central Archives (file RM 373), presumably the same set of notes referred to by Alter Wasserman, which could not be found for use in his book chapter from the late 1950s. The Memoranda of Rabbi Harnik were donated to the Central Archives in the early 1990s by the family of Mr. Dov (Bigo) Harth. The original manuscript was handwritten by Rabbi Harnik in German using Hebrew letters. A few selected passages were written in Hebrew. Also in the file was a transcription of the original manuscript into German using Roman letters. This was the copy used by Professor Fred Stambrook and Ms. Miriam Yagur who graciously donated their time to produce the English translation provided below. The Memoranda end abruptly at Chapter 22, presumably due to the death of Rabbi Harnik.

Bruce Reisch


Memoranda of the late Rabbi Israel Harnik
about the Jewish community in Radautz
[1]

Translated by Prof. Fred Stambrook and Miriam Yagur

Chapter 1

The founding of the Jewish community in this town, like the founding of the town itself, is due to its geographical situation, as the right market place for all the products of the mountainous areas which surround it.

From all directions in the mountains, broad or narrower ways and paths lead to this market place. All the settlers and inhabitants who live in various places in the forested heights used to bring their produce, especially live cattle or diverse quantities of wood, to this plain. Buyers and traders from neighboring districts were also accustomed to come here. On the other hand, traders from elsewhere used to bring all sorts of grain and fruit, which were bought by the mountain people, whose settlements produced little grain, in order to feed the population there.

In this way a lively traffic and exchange of goods took place in this location until it developed into a regular weekly market which attracted many people.

Under these conditions, a number of those attending the market and also many peasants decided to take up their residence there, built houses and opened businesses. Gradually, as whole streets were filled, it developed into a centre of the region and into a good-looking town. This is the county capital, Radautz.[2]

Jewish traders and cattle dealers of the county and the neighboring towns contributed in no small measure to the development and advancement of this place, as did those from East Galicia who often came here to buy cattle. Through this, a Jewish community established itself. At first very small and insignificant, it later grew into a significant Jewish community.

My informant, Mordechai Hirsch Fränkel, recounted to me that his father Josef Fränkel had told him that he came here from Galicia in 1810. Because he was not able to make the purchase in his own name, he bought a little house in the Larionescu lane together with another Jewish man. At that time there were a few [Jews] who had lived here for 30 years.

Chapter 2

In the year 1821 the number of Jewish inhabitants reached more than 30. They now wished no longer to belong to the older Jewish authorities in the neighboring communities of Fratautz and Margina. Rather, they wished to lead their own lives and no longer to be attached to these communities.

For this purpose the elders of the kahal turned to Grand Rabbi Mendel Hager from Kossov [Kosiv], whose spiritual influence was great and mighty, so that he might recommend to them their own ritual slaughterer to satisfy the religious obligations. He then sent them a very able and pious kosher slaughterer from Wiznitz named Ephraim ben Jakob Goldschläger.

It is noteworthy that although the Torah indicates that towns should be established only where there was a large expanse of water, this place [Radautz] was not alongside water and nevertheless developed into a beautiful town.

With the arrival of this pious and wise man, Jewish life entered a new phase. There now began a new and better time for the Jewish community. He was able to create a community, a kehila, out of the scattered and diverse individual inhabitants. He was able to ensure that the men of Radautz establish their own minyan despite the obstinate opposition of the Margina members who maintained that on the basis of a ruling of many years earlier, only they had the right to have a communal minyan. The slaughterer was able to reach a happy compromise, which enabled the Radautz men to become masters in their own house.

And so the first prayer house was established in the house of the said slaughterer, who then fulfilled the functions of “Baal Tefillah”, reader of the Torah and temple administrator. Through this, a sense of brotherhood and solidarity among all members of the gradually growing community was established and developed. Even then it earned its proper name “Beit-Haknesset” (the House of the Community”). It really was a center and assembly-point for the whole “kehila”, and all necessary discussions and consultation were held here.

In the course of time, the slaughterer became the leader of the kehila and set all the rituals of the kehila in a wise and honorable manner. And because he was, in addition, a learned and good-hearted man he was simultaneously the counselor of the whole community and always made decisions that met with everyone's complete approval.

After the establishment of the prayer house, a small steam-bath with a ritual Mikweh was also built, which corresponded to the demands of that time.

Only one necessary resource for the young kahal was still lacking, which must be accounted as a basic necessity for a regular community, and that is a “Beit Chaim” (cemetery). Until then it was the practice to take the deceased member of the community to the nearest, much older, town, Sereth, to inter the body in the cemetery there. Of course there were always other difficulties that had to be overcome.

Now the slaughterer, with his usual energy, went about implementing a well-prepared plan in this respect. He called several assemblies of the community members and after much advice and counter-advice and much maneuvering it was possible to obtain an area of land on the way to the commune Margina, for use as the Jewish Beit Hachaim.

As the religious head of the kahal, he arranged in the year 1831 for the ceremonial opening of the new Beit Hachaim in accordance with the required customs, and he placed a guardian in a cottage built nearby.

In the same year there was an epidemic in this region. This faithful leader of the kahal succumbed to it and so he became the first corpse to be buried in the cemetery he had himself established.

Chapter 3

The death of this brave, honest and pious man not only devastated the many members of his own family but also the whole kahal itself and each of its members. He was mourned as the faithful leader of the community and the fatherly adviser of every man in need, and simply as a true and sincere friend of humanity. His loss was felt and regretted by everyone and a void was left in every sphere of activity. The kahal began to search for a replacement.

A new kahal administration was to be formed, but even the first attempt showed that there were big differences between two contending parties. The “Marginer” stood aside and hoped to be the decisive third force if the two parties squabbled and quarreled. They wanted to fish in murky waters. But more cool-headed elements devised a way out in that they invited Chief Rabbi Chaim Hager, the son and successor of Chief Rabbi Mendel Hager of Kosiv, to come to Radautz on a Sabbath, and he succeeded in reaching an agreement. This was in late autumn of 1825. The oldest “Ba'al-Habait”, called Reb Schmuel Herer, took over the leadership of the kahal, with the assistance of his children David Herer and Moische Mordechai Herer, and had to carry out all the policies of the kahal. However, the Marginer Reb. Chaim Schapira remained connected with the kahal as representative of the Chief Rabbi, functioning as a supervisory body. A certain Reb Falik was appointed as kosher butcher, but merely provisionally, as he could not completely fulfill the duties of the position.

The matter of the prayer house, which had been in the house of Goldschläger but which had no home after his death, was also settled in that in place of one, two private prayer houses were established, whereby both parties were satisfied. This was in any case the right thing to do because the number of Jewish residents had grown to such an extent that they could no longer fit into one place. These two “Schul” would alternate from one house to another, depending on the decisions of the congregation. So, for instance, it was in the house of the well-known leader Jechiel Itzig Herzberg and many others. In 1838, a rich and respected burgher named Eli Gewölb offered to build a permanent and beautiful prayer house on his property and so the first fixed synagogue was opened and dedicated at Rosh-Hashanah 5601, September 1840. Accordingly it is now (1940) 100 years old. The foundation tablet is still affixed to the Misrach wall of this synagogue.

Chapter 4

The well-being and the economic progress of the whole population kept pace with the rise of the Jewish community. The Jewish traders enabled the mountain people, who for the most part raised cattle, to obtain the highest prices for their production, and this emboldened them to raise standards and practice better animal care. Meanwhile the Jewish wagon-owners were bringing such larger quantities of grain to market that there was never an increase in prices, let alone a shortage.

Friday was fixed as the weekly market day, and this for a very valid reason. The owners of wagons–the only means of transport at that time–could only set out on Sunday, after the Sabbath, in order to buy grain in different localities. Usually it took them two days to reach their destinations, one day for buying and loading, and then two days for the return trip. Consequently Friday was designated as market day. Malicious people claimed that there was another reason for the choice of Friday, namely that the home-town traders wanted to restrict and even eliminate the competition of non-resident traders because the latter would not be able to come for a Friday as they would not be able to get home for the Sabbath. However, in reality the first explanation of the designation of the market day is the correct one.

Whenever a Jewish holiday fell on a Friday, the authorities would bring the weekly market forward to the Wednesday, but it was clear that deliveries to the market were then less than normal.

Later, religious circles made an attempt to move the weekly market to another day because, in time, some thoughtless persons were desecrating the Sabbath. Disregarding the beginning of Sabbath on Friday evening, they still continued their Friday work, which caused great bitterness among the religious.

Notable for the dimension of the problem is the fact that the famous Chief Rabbi of Kosiv bitterly criticized this behavior in a letter to the elders of the kahal, as is evident from the copy whose text reads:

“To my friend, the well-known Rabbi M. Chaim, may his light shine, and to all our people of the community of Radautz, may they all be blessed with life and peace, amen. I have received a letter with the present and I grieve for them very much. Only I put my faith in the Blessed Lord that they shall surely shortly have a great redemption, as it says: ”it was turned to the contrary”[3]. For only that which I have written last year about keeping the holy Shabbat I warn about it once again for because of it they will have boundless riches, amen. And being certain [of your obedience] I keep it short. Their friend Chaim, son of the saintly Rabbi Menachem Mendel of blessed memory of Kossov, expecting to hear good news shortly.”

This letter was probably written in the year 1838. But all the endeavors of the right-thinking people to move the market to another day failed on account of the obstinate opposition of other circles. And so the Friday remained immovable, with its good and bad sides.

Chapter 5

The new leadership of the kahal lasted for quite some time. At the beginning the old Reb Schmuel by himself conducted the business of the kehila and then his sons took over. They took real pains to discharge all their allotted tasks promptly and honestly. In the first place they had to finally resolve the issue of the kosher butcher. As already noted, Goldschläger's successor, Reb Falik, was only appointed on a temporary basis as he was not really able to replace his predecessor. In this regard they received a recommendation from Chief Rabbi Hager of Kosiv for a person for the kosher butcher position who would also be able to perform some associated functions.

The text of this letter was as follows:

“To the people of the Radautz community, may all of them be blessed with life and peace. As I know their needs in everything, be it in matters of things allowed or forbidden, be it in matters of public prayer, be it in matters of commandments of which they haven't a leader so far. Therefore wherever there are no people[4] you ought to try to find a well-respected slaughterer, and the Rabbi M. Falik is still young in these matters. Therefore I have toiled and found my friend the excellent Rabbi Chaim, butcher of Milinitsie, to be butcher in Radautz. Therefore I have asked you to receive him well and that he make a good living.”
Following this recommendation, Reb Chaim was engaged as kosher butcher and prayer-leader, probably in the year 1833, and he faithfully discharged his duties as kosher butcher and much more. He could give good advice on everyday matters. On more complicated issues he sought and took guidance from the rabbinate in Sereth (for the Chief Rabbi of Kosiv had subordinated him to that office).

It is reputed that the first Radautz humanitarian organization, a sick benefit fund, was founded by him. The need for this had been demonstrated a short time before, in the year 1831, when a great epidemic disease swept over Eastern Europe. Radautz was also affected, and the former butcher Goldschläger and other well-to-do people fell victim to it. It was determined at that time that in many cases the absence of support for the sick had catastrophic consequences. And thus voices were raised among the people that this must be prevented and that support must be provided by an association. The new kosher butcher took up this idea and turned it into reality. He rounded up members and created the association. The leaders of the kahal readily supported him in every respect. However, in his later years he himself was ill and could not achieve very much, and the association was neglected.

It is thought that this kosher butcher in his old age returned to Galicia where his family lived. The leadership of the kahal then hired two new kosher butchers to replace him.

Chapter 6

Times does not stand still and, with the passing of the years, the number of kahal members increased through natural growth such as children, marriage and in-laws, and also in large number through the newly arrived traders who streamed to the trade center, Radautz. In this way there also arrived in the forties of the past century merchants from better families such as the later leader Jechiel Itzig Herzberg with his family, who came from central Galicia, the much spoken-of family R'euben Harth with his children from western Austria, who later performed splendid service in the administration of the kahal, also the [illegible] of Eisig Grabscheid, Meschulam Kowler and many others.

It was especially this increase which greatly raised the status of the Jewish community, because they were serious and energetic men and very companionable, and were respected and valued by everyone. They were active and successful in everything, and also worked for the welfare of others.

With the growth of the Jewish community, the administration of the kahal, for its part, increased its activities, to improve and make satisfactory the life of the kahal.

Also, there arose the question of hiring a rabbi, who would be appropriate for the needs of the Jewish population, so that Radautz would become independent in this respect, too, and no longer have to rely on Sereth. After much advice and discussion, temper and quarrels, the generally accepted decision was made in favor of a worthy and learned scholar named Rabbi Hirsch Schapira, who was originally from Podolia. He was proposed by his relative [...line cut off...] of the Chief Rabbi of Kosiv. Initially he was hired provisionally but his definitive appointment followed in the year 1847. He was not only a learned man but also an astute one who understood people, as well as a pious and G-d-fearing man.

Feelings that had been aroused gradually subsided, anger and partisanship soon disappeared, as everyone became convinced of his honesty and wisdom. Everyone was satisfied. He was able to grace his office for 35 years, until he decided to travel to Eretz Israel, to spend his last years there.

Chapter 7

During this time, in 1856, the Jewish kehila was given the right by the government to maintain its own Registry Office [Matrikelamt], and from 1857 onwards, the Jewish kehila in fact has been doing so. According to the law, it was an independent office, which was run by a Jewish official appointed by the government and in accordance with the relevant laws, under the aegis of the Jewish kahal. The Jewish community purchased the registers and had to pay for all other expenses.

The first official of the Registry Office, appointed with the agreement of the Jewish community, was the respected Alter Reichenberg, a son-in-law of the above-mentioned Reuben Harth. After about five years the office was taken over by Moritz Zeisel. He stayed in office until 1896, at which time the office was transferred to the then current kahal rabbi, Reb Itzchak Kunstadt, who headed it until his death in June 1909. Then an agent ran the office until 1912, when it was taken over by the then Rabbi Dr. Jakob Hoffmann, who remained until August 1923, when he accepted the post of Rabbi in Frankfurt a/M. At this time, the writer of these lines–Rabbi Harnik–took over the office, and he maintained it until the end of 1930. From this time on, from the beginning of 1930, the Jewish Registry Office was merged into the general State civil registry office for all religions. Only the old books remain with the Jewish kahal to this day [1940]. The registry books were maintained exclusively in the German language until 1924. However, from 1924 to 1929 they were maintained in Romanian.

Chapter 8

The long period of office of Rabbi Hirsch Schapira cannot be described as a quiet peaceful time, even though there was no personal opposition to him, as unfortunately happened in a number of towns and small places. There was one incident in which a group of opponents of Chief Rabbi Hager engaged a special Dajan, Reb Schmuel-Chaim, but he was only active for a few years and then returned home. But there were a number of developments, which caused the Rabbi much vexation and adversely affected his activities.

Two of these developments must be highlighted because of their significance in the life of the kahal, as they occasioned a split among the members of the community and caused much confusion in the oldest circles of the community.

The first was the matter of hiring the slaughterer. As already noted above in Chapter 5, after 1846 two slaughterers were active in the kehila . One of these died in 1867 and the kahal looked for a replacement. Then came a slaughterer from Galicia, who was a good cantor. The majority of the people favored him, they took pleasure from his prayers, and wanted to see him hired. Rabbi Schapira, however, and with him a number of other senior people, were opposed to such an appointment, as the Rabbi held many reservations about his abilities as a slaughterer and consequently could not approve his appointment.

There arose a split between the two parties and some spokesmen in the community, despite the opposition of the Rabbi, supported this slaughterer and wanted to see him follow his profession. The split became a real conflict between the parties. The pro-slaughterer party brought their poultry to him to be butchered despite Rabbi Schapira's prohibition, while the anti-slaughterer party saw his butchering as unkosher and corrupt. The conflict lasted quite a long time, until Rabbi Schapira issued a sharply worded proclamation. It then happened that the leader of the pro-slaughterer party, Hirsch Mosche Gerschon's, a respected man but a strong supporter of the slaughterer, in an angry and excited manner tore the Rabbi's proclamation from the wall of the synagogue at the time of Rosh Hashanah, and suddenly died on the same day. This sudden death of the leader caused great consternation in the whole town. Everyone whispered that this was divine punishment for having insulted the Rabbi. The would-be slaughterer was pushed out and departed. This ended the conflict and peace was restored. A new slaughterer was hired, the well-known Reb Israel Wolf, who was also a well-known circumciser, a very good and pious man. He exercised his function for several decades until he departed to Eretz Israel in 1901.

Chapter 9

The second painful development occurred several years later. As already recounted in Chapter 2, the first head of the community, the slaughterer Goldschläger, constructed a steam and ritual bath (mikweh). Taking account of the increase in the membership of the kahal, a later leadership enlarged the kahal bath “herer” and improved it to more modern standards. The “bath” and the “mikweh” became a profitable institution for the kahal administration. It even became the best sources of revenue for the kahal and was leased out in return for monthly payments, and the lessee charged a fee to the customers of the baths.

As the bath “herer” and the mikweh were a solid, prosperous and profitable business, naturally there were envious people and a private merchant, Weber by name, of his own resources constructed another bath. In order to solidify the business, he had to construct a kosher mikweh. And here was a snag. In order to make the mikweh kosher, the rabbinical authority absolutely had to be involved. Naturally, because the private entrepreneur would be in competition with the kahal's bath, it could scarcely be demanded of the community's Rabbi that he should act against the interests of the community. Therefore there was no other way than to engage a Rabbi from another community to do the blessing. On the advice of friends, the owner of the new baths turned to Rabbi Abraham Aminia from Burdujeni, a well-known personality who was well-versed in treating such rabbinical problems and who was well-known as reliable. The entrepreneur asked the rabbi to rescue him from this complicated situation by making the mikweh kosher and protect it with his name. Initially the Burdujeni Rabbi declined to do this. But when Weber got references from the Rabbi's children who lived in the Radautz district and belonged to the best circles, such as Abraham Pressner in Margina, Chaim Stieber in Solca and others, the Rabbi decided that he would come to Radautz, he made kosher Weber's Mikweh and gave the owner a certificate to this effect. This created a real storm in Radautz. The local Rabbi felt this as a real reflection on his honor that a foreign Rabbi undertook such a significant religious act in his community. He turned to a number of rabbinical authorities of the Jewish world, of whom many shared his viewpoint that the certificate of kosher be annulled and Weber's mikweh not be blessed. The Weber's rival bath remained standing, but it lacked the most important ingredient, the mikweh. All the efforts of the Burdujeni Rabbi to maintain the validity of his certificate were unsuccessful in view of the decision of the local Rabbi Schapira.

A copy of the censure of Rabbi Aminia's is here copied in large part (although a portion is missing because of damp and yellowing).

“This is given to the respected Jacob Weber.

It concerns the ritual bath. And since people who are not close but only honest testify that they have heard the learned and keen Rabbi Zvi of Radautz that he will not make the bath kosher…There is no doubt that the mitzvah of purifying is more important, and even more so considering the bath-master demands a high entrance fee which makes it very expensive for the poor, in which case it is even more important to help them, as I have written…And whoever doesn't admit it is mistaken, therefore I have declared it kosher as it is clearly understood from the words of the Rabbis.”

Chapter 10

Apart from the two serious incidents that have been described, there were only some insignificant frictions or disagreements between various members of the kehila , even though the leadership of the kehila did everything to preserve an inner peace and avoid any troubles. For a long time the inhabitants of the kehila enjoyed the best of understandings and everyone could quietly pursue his business.

There were also people who took the time to try to do something for the good of the community. Above all, there should here be stressed the founding of the teaching institute in 1854, which with minimal inadequacies has remained an inexhaustible resource for Jewish religious culture. Thousands and thousands of young people counted and count among the pupils of this Talmud Torah, who later as adults could never forget the benefits they received at this institution and who are scattered throughout all countries. At present the number of children attending the Talmud Torah is around 170. The actual initiator of the founding of the Talmud Torah Association was a certain “Jehoschua ben Reb Moshe Dov” (as he is called in the founding documents), whose family name is unknown. Later the very respected Eisig Grabscheid took over and devoted himself to this holy task. It was thanks to his influence and esteem that ways could be found to make this Association the largest and most widespread institution, which grew into almost a common property of the whole community. This worthy man has created a lasting memory in that as the long-term president of the T.T. Association he always took care to engage the best teachers and that poor children, besides not having to pay for tuition, also received material support. Moreover, he constructed for the Association its own prayer house, so that the children could recite their prayers in their own home, and donated a Torah scroll and its accessories. With him and after him the best and most respected men of this town further developed this blessed work for the benefit of the Association. It is almost impossible to list them all because they are so numerous. But some will be here identified: those who were active in the first executive of the Association included, besides Grabscheid, the old Jechiel Itzig Herzberg, Berl Harth (called Chaness, to distinguish him from Berl (Kahn) Harth, who was later head of the kahal), the brothers Chaim and Noah Jurgrau [?], Elimelech Herer and Jankel Besner, also, earlier, Israel Schimon Herschleifer, Mendel Rath. After Grabscheid the Association was under a provisional committee until the well-known building contractor Chaim Rudnik took on the leadership of the T.T. He was a long-term president of this institute and devoted himself wholeheartedly to this holy cause until his death. A number of leading men worked with him, inter alia Jakob Drimer, Chaim Sternschuss, Nachum Herschleifer and Meschulam Katz (who was Vice-President for many years), and also David Wasserman, Jehoschua Schurberg, Schimon Halbrecht and many others. All the community's Rabbis have done much to promote this institute and were always elected as honorary presidents, as was the teacher of religion Chaim David Feldmann Halevi.

It has most especially to be mentioned that some benefactors favored the institution in their wills and their names deserve to be remembered. First of all there was the real estate owner Mendel Fischer and his wife Gittel Fischer, whose names should be eternally remembered, who left their whole estate to the Talmud Torah. Then there was Michel Ruckenstein, who also bequeathed a considerable legacy.

These bequests did much to maintain the institution and the donors deserve a perpetual memorial in the annals of this town.

In the time of the kahal administrator Herer, the welfare association “Chessed Weemeth” (not to be confused with the later association “Chessed Schel Emeth”) and the society of coffin bearers were founded.

Chapter 11

The famous Chief Rabbi Chaim Hager died in 1854 in Kossov (East Galicia) and left three sons, each of whom had a great number of followers (Hassidim).

The followers of the Hager family, whose numbers in Radautz were great and who were important, together with the kahal administration, tried to persuade one of the brothers, the second oldest, Chief Rabbi Josef Alter Hager, to move his permanent residence here. They wanted thereby to increase tourism, because the followers of the Rabbi were accustomed to come from near and far for all holidays and even at other times to make pilgrimages to him.

They were successful, and in 1856 he was received here with great ceremony by the whole population.

This Rabbi did a lot to stimulate the Jewish Yeshuv and he worked hand in hand with the community Rabbi Schapira to increase the spirituality of the well-to-do.[5] It is true that he sometimes had conflicts regarding the observance of the Sabbath, because as market day was Friday, some of them continued to work after the beginning of the Sabbath–something that had much upset his father, Rabbi Chaim Hager, too.

Matters went so far that the Rabbi temporarily moved his seat to Sereth in protest at the defilement. His followers tried to get the culprits to reform in order to persuade the Rabbi to return to Radautz and their efforts were crowned with success. The Rabbi came back.

All in all his stay here was of considerable significance. The whole town, young and old, esteemed him greatly and treated him with great respect for the whole of his circa twenty year presence here.

Whenever something good happened in the Rabbi's family everyone rejoiced with the Rabbi. On Saturdays and holidays the local population would join in prayers with Hassidim who had traveled here, and also partake of the Rabbi's meals.

In the year 1876 Chief Rabbi Hager decided to emigrate to Eretz Israel in order to spend the last years of his life there. The pleas of his numerous friends and followers to give up this plan were to no avail. The Rabbi stuck by his decision. But he did at least offer to leave his only son, the later Chief Rabbi Moische Hager in his place in Radautz.

The departure of the old Rabbi turned into a great procession. An unbroken row of wagons extended from his home six kilometers to the train station in Hadikfalva. Many thousands of local and foreign Hassidim were very reluctant to say a final goodbye to their beloved Rabbi.

After his departure, his only son, Rabbi Moische Hager, took over his seat and thereby the leadership of his followers. He led them in the same way as his father, with wisdom and piety. He wrote a number of educational works and helped to elucidate difficult passages in the holy texts.

But Rabbi Moische also went to Eretz Israel and left several sons here. One of these, Rabbi Chaim (Seide) soon died and the second one, Rabbi Israel, left for America, where he still today leads his followers. Both he and his son, Rabbi Josef Schmuel, are active as Rabbis in New York.

Chapter 12

If having the seat of the Chief Rabbi was good for increasing tourism, something else was added, which led to an increase in the size and importance of the Yeshuv. This was the opening of the railway line Lemberg-Czernowitz-Jassy in 1866. An informant told me that when the news of this railway project first came to Radautz, by way of those who know everything straight from the horse's mouth, all the traders were dumbfounded, as if struck by thunder. The sad news spread like wildfire throughout the little town. Wringing their hands, the wagon owners asked what they would do with their horse and wagon when the damned railway took away all their loads? Other merchants discussed the question of what would befall them when the railway enabled foreign merchants to come here and take all trade out of their hands?

The initial despair turned into a forced optimism. People said that it was impossible for such a project to be realized because, as some said, it would not be profitable, or because such a long stretch would take decades to build, and other things.

After much discussion and consideration it was decided to turn to Chief Rabbi Hager for intercession or perhaps for his good counsel. As they made their presentation the Rabbi replied:

Dear friends, you are quite in error. The purpose of the railway is not to bring foreigners to you but the opposite, to open the world to you, so that you will be able to trade farther afield. My advice to you all is that you should adapt yourselves to the railway. This means seeing things differently and using what the railway has to offer. The Rabbi made it clear to them what they should do in future. Even if the well-meant advice was not understood by all, most of them got it right and adjusted their activities accordingly.

But this was a time of difficult crisis as it was wartime (between Austria and Prussia, 1866), as well as a time of hunger accompanied by the well-known epidemic (Cholera). So it took time for the traders to change their ways and for most transport owners to be content with trade in cereal crops and other articles. The railway truly opened the world to trade and traffic, so that from then on a new epoch began for the Jewish community.

Also at that time several young and talented persons formed the wish and the idea to go further in the world and thereby make their fortune. And so quite a few children of Radautz have established themselves in a number of foreign towns and founded businesses. Many have done well and have ascended high on the ladder of good fortune. Even then there had begun a gradual emigration to the United States of America, naturally at first only small numbers, and these were the founders of the Radautz Society in America, which is still a model and an honor for Radautz.

Chapter 13

For a long time there was no change in the leadership of the kehila, merely changes of personnel of little significance for the kahal itself. Each time, young and able men put themselves at the disposal of the old leader and worked together. And so the older people made room so that the younger ones could take their place. All this was done without discord or strife between parties, as everyone had only the good of the kahal at heart.

During and after the era of Herer (the old Reb Schmuel and his sons), Jechiel Itzig Herzberg, Eli Gewölb, Alter Protsch and his son Ephraim Protsch, Chaim Menschel, Baruch Schätz, Berl (Kahn) Harth and others were active in the kahal, until we get to the brothers Rudich (the well-known big industrialist, Michel Rudich, and his brother, Mosche Rudich) who also led the kahal for a long time.

Such persons were in the leadership of the kahal and they always had the welfare of all as their aim. They led the affairs of the kahal honestly and with dignity, so that the esteem and prestige of Jewry was raised in the eyes of the authorities. Officialdom treated the kehila as the competent representative of the Jewish community and of all Jews.

In the year 1870 the community rabbi attained official recognition and by decree of the political authorities he was authorized to perform legal marriages. From this time on he maintained the marriage register in accordance with the regulations, just as in any parish office.

A number of new prayer houses were founded at this time, as those that already existed could not accommodate the whole population. And so the “Wiznitz Schul”, the “Kossow Schul” (Jankel Besner) and the Sadagura Schul (Michel Rudich) were built.

In the kehila administration, the idea was formed and even a plan was made to establish a large modern synagogue, as would be appropriate for the community in what had grown to be the second-largest town of Bukovina.

This was actually a very difficult and many sided problem. The core question was where the money for the land and the construction would come from. The community's funds were too small for such an undertaking. Another question was where one could get a plot of land in the center of the town. Then there were arguments about the style of the building. Some wanted the building to be in the old style while the intellectuals wanted a very modern one. Some wanted to incur a big loan while others worried about repaying this.

The debates were long and wearisome. Even after a whole year no proper result had been achieved.

Then suddenly it became known that Emperor Franz Josef was coming to Bukovina and would visit Radautz. This was to eventuate in September 1880, Tishrei 5641. With this the synagogue debate came to a complete end and all concerned themselves with the reception of the ruler.

Under the leadership of the head of the kehila, Michel Rudich, it was decided to elect a delegation to attend the imperial reception. As the delegates appeared before the monarch, the Emperor enquired about the life of the Jews in Radautz, about their number, and about how many prayer houses they had. The delegates told him that, on account of lack of funds, they did not have a central prayer house. Thereupon the Emperor donated to the Jewish community a splendidly situated building plot for the construction of a large synagogue. This was on the day of Yom Kippur in the year 1880 (5641).

It is readily understandable that this gift occasioned indescribably great joy among the Jews of Radautz. Everywhere one saw beaming happy faces as people congratulated one another. The verse “And they went to their tents happy and good of heart” had come true.

So the first part of the problem was resolved in this way: the building plot for the great synagogue was a reality.

Chapter 14

How true is the maxim of our wise old men in the Midrash: every beginning is difficult. Now that a beginning had been made with the acquisition of the building plot, the ball had been set rolling and people began with the construction. The kehila leaders and with them almost all the Jewish people worked tirelessly to collect money and materials, and finally came the day Lag Baomer of the same year (5641 - May 1881) that was fixed for the ceremonial laying of the first stone.

However, on the eve of the big day, on the 17th Iyar, the old and sick local Rabbi Schapira fell ill and could not take part in the festivities. So he sent a messenger to Rabbi Benjamin Weiss in Czernowitz,[6] to ask that he should come here and deputize for him. Naturally Rabbi Weiss could not refuse the request of a friend and colleague. He came to the laying of the foundation stone and made a great and beautiful speech.

My informant could not tell me about the whole content of the speech as he could no longer remember it all. He only told me what he could recollect and I want to record it. It goes as follows: Gentlemen: you are engaged in building a holy house and have done me the great honor of laying the foundation stone. At this moment I am looking into the distance, spatially and even more so temporally. The Holy Writings tell us that in the distant past, when David Hamelech likewise began to build a holy place in honor of the Almighty, he turned to King Aravna in order to obtain from him a building plot. It was a justifiable view that a King with all his powers had the right to dispose of landed property. Land intended for holy purposes must be so defined that the owner who donates it has full and total ownership with unrestricted rights, as only such land, and no other, may be used for holy purposes. Fortunately this has also been the case here with the building plot that lies before us, intended for the House of G-d that is to be newly constructed. It came as a present from His Majesty the Emperor, the unrestricted owner, which the Monarch has donated for the Glory of G-d. And just as the land has been given to you without restriction, you will surely make such further donations from that which you have earned legitimately and without restriction.

As mentioned, his further words cannot be recorded. But he did remember that the famous speaker stressed the significance of the Lag Baomer day and its connection with the festive laying of the foundation stone, and he called on all those present to contribute generously for this Beth Knesseth. His three-quarter hour long speech was greeted with great applause. In honor of the guest, a festive meal was held in the house of the community Rabbi, where both Rabbis conversed busily about holy matters and other participants also spoke, until evening when the honored guest departed.

This speech was not a voice in the wilderness but the call found the right echo. Within a short time enormous sums were collected, so that the means for realizing the monumental building were found without difficulty.

Chapter 15

Even before the leadership of the kehila had seen the building to completion, they were faced with a new and very difficult and delicate task. The community's Rabbi Schapira, who had not recovered completely from his illness, decided to journey to Eretz Israel to spend the evening of his life there. He carried out his decision. When taking farewell of his friends and flock, they tried to get him to change his mind and stay, but in vain. The kehila had made an agreement with the Rabbi that besides paying for the expenses of his journey and a parting bonus, it would pay a further amount to purchase the Rabbi's so-called right of possession, so that the kehila could transfer the position of Rabbi to whoever it found suitable.

The kehila administration therefore took out advertisements in several Jewish newspapers in respect of the prospective appointment of a new rabbi. In the meantime, to take charge of the rabbinical office on a provisional basis, a Rabbi named Mendel David was engaged; he came from the little town of Lissietz. He took up this office and entered a number of marriages in the appropriate marriage register.

Within a few weeks of the advertisement, no fewer than fifteen applications from various candidates had been received. After soliciting more information and examining the testimonials, the kehila leadership decided to invite candidates to make a trial sermon. After hearing all these preachers, the leadership decided by a majority on the famous pulpit speaker Rabbi Itzchak Kunstadt from Grosswardein. A minority were for Rabbi Lichtenstein from Maroschwarscherheli, a brother of the famous Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein of Kolomea. He too was a fine speaker but not as good as Rabbi Kunstadt. The result of the election of the Rabbi, as was only to be expected, was that Rabbi Kunstadt was selected and he was accepted as the community's rabbi by the kehila administration. Those who were in a minority did not accept the result of the election. They brought Rabbi Lichtenstein in at their own expense. The spokesman of the minority was the property-owner Jankel Besner, who had built the Kossower Schul prayer house. The second Rabbi held divine service in this Schul. Some people maintained that Besner took this unfortunate step because the leader of the majority was his brother-in-law Berl (Kahn) Harth, with whom at that time he had a family quarrel, so Besner wanted to show him he couldn't have it all his own way.

However that may have been, the fact remains that there was now a bone of contention in the Jewish community, which might have developed into a major confrontation. But Divine Providence ordained otherwise, in that the quite innocent and respectable Rabbi Lichtenstein suddenly fell ill and died, a few months after he had arrived. His death caused much sorrow in the whole town, among both parties. His older brother, the Rabbi from Kolomea, came to Radautz and held a worthy funeral oration, and Besner undertook to use his own money to maintain Rabbi Lichtenstein's widow and children–which he did in fact do in a praiseworthy fashion. The widow was richly provided for during her lifetime, likewise the children who were well brought up, and the sons were able to be engaged as rabbis in various communities, where they are still engaged in their holy labors.

The very distinguished personality of Rabbi Kunstadt together with his distinctive laugh and goodness of heart soon combined to win the affection of the whole population. He soon became the beloved and honored Rabbi. Everyone esteemed him highly and looked upon him with both love and awe. He was now the community's only active Rabbi.

Chapter 16

The kahal directors decided that the installation of Rabbi Kunstadt should take place on 18 August 1883[7]. Naturally every sort of preparation was made so that his reception would take place in as festive a manner as possible. They also wanted the Rabbi to consecrate the newly built synagogue, and it was agreed that the new Rabbi's speech upon taking office should also serve to dedicate the new synagogue.

In the early morning of 18 August 1883 an enormous throng of people, some of whom had come by wagon and others on foot, had assembled at the railway station Hadikfalva to give Rabbi Itzchak Kunstadt a great reception and bring him with much cheering and jubilation to the town. The illustrious guest allowed himself only a bare hour's rest and then went straight to his holy task. After the welcome, the barely 46 year old with his beautiful rich voice began his assumption of office speech. He named it “The three regalim[8]” (18 August, patriotic celebration, inauguration of the synagogue, kehila celebration, plus the installation – another celebration). It was a well-structured and meaningful speech, somewhat flowery, which charmed the whole audience and fascinated the whole assembly, Jews and non-Jews alike; the latter consisted partly of the representatives of the authorities and partly of the simply curious. The applause was almost endless. The representatives vied with one another in their words of praise and their congratulations. The installation was the subject of general conversation for a long time; everyone felt satisfied and in high spirits. The kehila leadership was especially happy.

The construction of the synagogue, which earlier had been beset with difficulties on account of the swampy ground and similar things, had been completed. The post of Rabbi was filled by a suitable personality and everything was in order.

But the calm did not last long.

Soon there were occurrences that caused worries and trouble to the kehila elders. Besides the quarrel with Besner and his supporters regarding Rabbi Lichtenstein (see Chapter 15 above), there was dissatisfaction in some Orthodox circles on account of the domes on the small towers on both sides of the synagogue, which had been the architect's own idea. The complainants thought that these domes resembled those of a church and were not appropriate for a synagogue. But the architect was obstinate and stuck with his design. Differences of opinion manifested themselves and there was every indication that there would again be conflict.

The new Rabbi did not wish to be drawn into the quarrel and sought the advice of a number of Jewish authorities and a compromise was found: the domes were to be so altered that they would no longer appear like those of a church. And everything was appeased and calmed.

A second significant development then took place. A young man, the grandson of the former Rabbi Schapira, by name of Schimon Schapira, who was married and lived in the small town of Linautz, came after the departure of his grandfather to the then Rosch-Hakahal, Reb Moische Rudich, and put forward his claim to the “right of possession” of his grandfather. He wanted to obtain the vacant post of Rabbi. The Rosch-Hakahal did not wish to hear this because the old Rabbi had sold the right of succession to the kahal. As Rabbi Kunstadt had already been appointed, the young man came to him with the demand that the post was his by right. Further, he, Schapira, demanded that Rabbi Kunstadt should go with him to a tribunal consisting of three Rabbis that would determine his right.

Rabbi Kunstadt passed this on to the Rosch-Hakahal and complained that he had been put in an impossible position. A new danger of strife now threatened, as the young Schapira had a number of relatives in Radautz who would be his partisans. The leaders of the kehila wanted to know nothing about all this and stubbornly stuck to their viewpoint that Schapira had no rights whatsoever.

Then Rabbi Kunstadt for the first time showed his noble disposition and goodness, even though it might run contrary to his own interests. He made vigorous applications to the leaders that they should not turn young Schapira away but should hire him as a community employee first with the title ne'eman (trustee) and then as Dajan-adjunct for religion, as well as participant in several of the Rabbi's projects (income), so that Schapira would get a living. He was successful and Reb Schimon Schapira was appointed Dajan and functioned in this capacity until his death in the year 1918, constant in his calling and conscious of his holy task.

With Rabbi Kunstadt came also his loyal pupil, Reb Chaim Feldmann, who had already been with this Rabbi in his spheres of activity in Abamri and Grosswardein and had gained much knowledge and scholarship in the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch. He had now come here in order to drink further strong draughts from this source. The Rabbi had also looked after his material welfare; he married Feldmann off to the daughter of a rich man in Radautz and helped him in other ways, too. This student fully deserved to be supported by Rabbi Kunstadt because he brought honor to his teacher, too. He was truly a pearl and an ornament to his fellow men, such as one finds only rarely. This is in turn to the credit of his Rabbi who provided him with a noble upbringing.

Chapter 17

At that time, in the year 1890, the government in Vienna brought in a new law for the establishment of modern religious communities [Kultusgemeinden]. Thereupon, new elections were ordered. According to the law there were to be formed religious communities of all ranks, with approved constitutions. The number of members of each religious community would generally be reckoned in its approved statute according to the size of the kehila. This new organizational regulation of the kehila led to a considerable increase in the status of the Jewish religious community. The creation of kehila autonomy led to a new epoch in the life of the kehila and was a new step towards the equality of the Jewish population with all other fellow citizens of the country. This was noted at the time and commented on by Jewish newspapers at home and abroad. It need scarcely be emphasized that the new formation of the kehila administrations was very good for Jewish community life. Instead of the three directorships of the previous era – and in most cases the duties were combined in one person – more personalities now entered into the chambers of the kehila, and everyone could give of his best.

According to its census figures, Radautz was to have 24 councilmen, called religious councilors [Kultusräte], who were to be elected by all inhabitants of the town and countryside of the Jewish faith. They would create the administration of the religious community. The number of rural communities that were included in the [Radautz] religious community exceeded the number 30 that was the nominal figure stated in the constitution.

In every kehila the transition from the old institution into the new and expanded form was attended by all sorts of difficulties, as in the search for new men various unsuitable occurrences took place. How much more was this the case in Radautz. Once the statutes were drawn up and approved, the elections took place.

Our kehila had developed in a relatively short time from a nothing into a large community – one can even say that it grew with the speed of lightning from small beginnings into real significance. But unlike other older kehilot, this growth was not gradual through natural increase, but, for the most part, through the immigration of dealers and merchants in large numbers. Such aggregations of people naturally remained strangers even if they lived together for many years, and even after generations the sense of foreignness generally remained. In this way there was in the kehila a mixture of diverse smaller or larger groups who lived side by side in the town. A satirical remark made by the beloved Rabbi Kunstadt in one of the better circles of his admirers was well-known. “My friends”, he said, “you want to know what impression Radautz made on me. I can tell you that I was very disappointed, and this for a very simple reason. A kahal appointed me, but I see in front of me twenty little kehilot which have all found a place in Radautz”.

As was to be expected, soon after the publication of the new law on religious communities, several large and small parties were formed. Each prepared its own program intended to safeguard the existence and the growth of the kehila and to do whatever was necessary. There was no lack of discussion and debate, sometimes in moderate and sometimes in heated form. There were some verbal duels until the appointed election day arrived and allowed the ballot boxes to speak and the people's choices were voted in. Naturally, all the larger parties were represented. There were the “Balebatim”, the “Hassidim”, the “Handicraftsmen”, and so on, and all were satisfied with the results of the first election.

Chapter 18

For the first time, all party leaders were assembled around a table in the board room and Rabbi Kunstadt was invited too. Before the opening of the session the Rabbi spoke to welcome the participants – I was later able to read the manuscript of his speech. It was a masterpiece, as usual. I want to cite only one remark, which he made in his own heart-warming way. He said: “On Friday evening when we greet the Angels of Peace we need four verses:”

“Peace be unto you, your coming in peace, bless (or greet) us with peace, go forth in peace. And to you who are also emissaries of peace, and because through you peace will come in the kehila, I say above all: Peace be unto you, the truly Jewish traditional greeting. May your presence here in this room lead to peace. Further, may peace bring the blessing of your activities. But all this is not enough if you have merely concluded a truce in and for the meeting room. Rather, we expect that when you also depart in peace you will take with you the real, upright, peace despite different party orientations. Take care therefore that the preceding party struggles leave behind no shadows for the future. And so on.”

Then one proceeded to the election of the officers and directors, with the president of the elders, Chaim Menschel, in the chair. The exact list is no longer in the archives; only some names are mentioned. Berl Terner was elected President, Nathan Harth Vice-President. There are also the names of Chaim Menschel, Mendel Rath, Chaim Sternschuss, Abraham Weber, Schlome Sonnenthal, Mosche Kranzdorf, Salomon Weissler, Mohr, Dr. Menkes, etc.

The then mayor of the town of Radautz, the Jewish lawyer Dr. Braunstein, who had also been invited, welcomed in the name of the municipality the newly-elected religious community council and stressed that both he and the town council would do their best to meet the wishes and requests of the religious community, whose leadership he requested to work hand in hand with the town council. The long-time municipal doctor, the Jewish medical practitioner Dr. Salomon Weber, and the representatives of the authorities who were present also greeted the new institution in the warmest manner.

Thus ended the first meeting of the new body. In the second session and later too all the councilors busied themselves with the welfare of the whole community. Their work was beneficial. The steam and ritual bath was repaired and improved. Three butchers were hired for the kosher slaughter of poultry, in an especially suitable location; the large synagogue was cleaned and beautified. The [council's] business was divided among several departments – ritual, finance, cemetery and administration. Another innovation was that the religious community was to undertake social welfare in accordance with the circumstances, and a department for this was established.

Chapter 19

A gigantic all-embracing change in the economic sphere took place at precisely this time on the richly wooded slopes of the Carpathian mountains. This represented a very large change and advance for the mountainous areas around Radautz.

Various financial circles in Vienna and other commercial centers became aware of the extensive woodlands on the slopes of the Carpathians. With good management one could provide benefits also to the working population. They were capable of being profitable both for the workers and for the entrepreneurs. Instead of a large part of the wood being left to rot and decay, it could be made useful and income-producing for the poor inhabitants.

The financiers' agents investigated the situation and when the results were positive, they contacted the administrators of state properties, headquartered in the land ministry in Vienna, and concluded with them a forest-utilization agreement.[9] This involved large quantities of wood in the region in long-term contracts. They then built all sorts of sawmills to work the wood. All told, thousands of laborers and employees were involved in this work and they were very well paid by their employers.

In first place were the wealthy financiers Baron Leopold and Baron Alexander Popper, who conducted themselves generously. Their maxim was: the employees and the laborers had to be well paid, and this for several reasons:

so that they did not feel it necessary to steal, and;

so that they would carry out their duties loyally and industriously because they would be anxious not to lose their well-paid jobs.

As is customary in life, every successful enterprise found its imitators and led to competition. So also the extensive lumber industry of the Barons Popper caused many merchants with money to purchase lumber and construct sawmills. And so a whole network of large and small industries developed in the whole Radautz county, in every village and market locality. All with intense activity. As a result, laborers and employees found good income-earning opportunities and a good degree of well-being spread among the whole population.

Once again, an immigration of strangers was noticeable and enlivened the market.

However, in Jewish religious circles a detrimental effect also became apparent because many workers and entrepreneurs pursued the gleam of money and no longer observed the religious regulations. They infringed upon the holiness of the Sabbath and Holy Days and also neglected other regulations.

All endeavors and presentations of these circles failed to achieve much success even among their adherents, and this explains the weakening of the true believers of Jewry in this region since that time.

Chapter 20

The increase in the Jewish community as a result of the new earning opportunities was even more apparent in the rural communities of this county because the sawmills, with their workers and supervisors, was in the first place a development in the rural areas.

From the year 1890 onwards a number of small Jewish kehilot have been established which were accounted as branch communities of the Radautz religious community but which were nevertheless autonomous in their activities in many respects. These are:

the kehila “Seletin” which served as the mother community for a further three smaller ones;

the kehila “Solca” as mother community for five other ones; and

the kehila “Wikov” as mother community Ober-wikov to which nine other communities belonged. Each of these three communities was also in separate judicial districts[10] and was officially designated as a registration [Matrikel] district.

Under these circumstances these communities successively chose their own Rabbis, who administered the Rabbi's Office of the kehila. All of these Rabbis regarded the Rabbi of Radautz as the Chief Rabbi of the whole county. The latter, with his usual goodness of heart, was always ready to assist these Rabbis and treated them in a really collegial manner.

In this connection it may be mentioned that the Seletin kehila chose as its first Rabbi Reb Leib Sternhell from Bojan, who was afterwards employed in Bojan as Rabbi in succession to his father.

The second Rabbi in Seletin was Rav Yehoschua Baumöl from Kraschtschinka (Galicia) and Rosch-Yeshiva in Wiznitz, Bukovina. After the 1914-1918 World War he emigrated to America where he was able to put his notable talents to good use and is counted among the most respected Rabbis.

Around 1898 the Solca kehila appointed a Rabbi named Harav Baruch Basseches from Gliniani (Galicia). He was a very good speaker and made himself much liked.

In 1920 he was called as Rabbi to Burdujeni and worked there until his unfortunately premature death. The Solca kehila had no successor for him and has remained without a Rabbi until today [1940].

Chapter 21

My community Wikov as the third of these communities deserves a separate chapter from me, because I began my own rabbinical activities here. And for another reason too, because this branch community was the nearest one to Radautz and therefore worked more closely and intensively with the Radautz kehila.

I have learned that there was already a small Jewish settlement here in the years 1815-20. Names included Zacharia Habermann and his great-uncle, the old Juda Seinwell, whose descendants are even today respected merchants, and others.

However, given the competition of Radautz, this settlement could not compare and during the time when Radautz rapidly grew into a very significant kehila, Wikov only slowly grew into a kehila of perhaps 100 members. It was only after the development of the lumber industry that this kehila grew significantly larger.

In 1891 there were already two ritual slaughterers who were kept constantly busy and the elders of the kahal then set about the appointment of a Rabbi. They engaged a Rabbi named Chaim Dachner who came from a famous family of Hassidic Rabbis; in fact he was a grandson of Chief Rabbi Hager of Kossov. He himself was an esteemed scholar and a very pious man. On his arrival he was very well received by the Rascher kahal at whose head were the administrators Mordechai Scharfstein, Moische Maidanek and others. Soon he was esteemed and loved by all. He functioned as Rabbi until the middle of 1897 when he was appointed in the same capacity in the community Misietz (Maramuresch). But he never quite forgot his former kehila, and used to pay visits several times a year until such time as the kehila decided to fill the vacant post with another Rabbi.

At that time I became engaged to my future wife who is the daughter of the well-known scholar from Oberwikov named Reb Aharon Teiler, of blessed memory, whereupon the Raschei Hakahal there decided to engage me as Rabbi and to wait until the wedding had been celebrated. My installation as Rabbi took place immediately after my wedding. Naturally I did everything possible to elevate Jewish life there both in matters of a ritual and religious character and in a social/societal respect. There were a number of associations as “Aguda ahat” and sick benefit societies as well as women's organizations and others. These were in the mother community Oberwikov and not less so in the communities attached to it such as the industrial township Putna, or in Straja, Bilca and the other communities with their own prayer houses, kosher butchers, ritual baths and so on.

There I operated quietly in all areas of rabbinical activity. I also published and distributed some of my works. I could surely have changed positions during this time and been engaged as Rav in another kehila. But I did not want to exchange my quiet and pleasant post for one that might be involved in party conflicts even if the new kehila were larger and more significant. So I worded there in Wikov until the First World War, until 1916, at which time I and the majority of the Jewish inhabitants left for the West of the [Austrian] Empire.

After the return from the West in the years 1918 and 1920 only a small part came home to Wikov, while the greater part either perished in the war or settled in other places. My family and I stayed in Radautz, where I soon became a member of the rabbinate and was later appointed as its head.

Now and then I go to Wikov in emergencies.

Chapter 22

[Here the manuscript ends]


Translator's Footnotes

  1. This translation, originally by Professor Fred Stambrook of the Department of History, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, is of a German translation by Dov (Bigo) Harth of the Memoirs of Rabbi Israel Harnik. Some modifications and translation of Hebrew texts were added by Miriam Yagur. Bruce Reisch coordinated the project and edited the English translation. The original, written in German using Hebrew letters, is to be found in the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem, file RM 373. Return
  2. Radautz was the second largest town of Bukovina, a small province in the north-east corner of the Austrian Empire. Its population in 1880 was 11,162, of whom 30.9 per cent were Jewish; the others were mostly Romanians and ethnic Germans. The town was the capital of a county (Bezirk) of the same name, covering a large and mainly mountainous area in the southern part of the province. The town of Radautz housed government offices, a law court, a secondary school, a state hospital and a gendarmerie post. Return
  3. The well-known verse from the book of Esther Return
  4. This is an allusion to the famous phrase of Hillel: "Wherever there are no people (men) try to be a man. Return
  5. References to the Radautz Rabbis may be confusing unless the following is borne in mind: Rabbi Schapira and his successors were the community's official, Orthodox, Rabbis. The Rabbis Hagar were members of a well-known Hassidic rabbinical dynasty, originally from Kosiv (Kossow) in Galicia, which later made its court in Wiznitz, Bukovina. Return
  6. Benjamin Weiss was the long-term Orthodox Rabbi of Czernowitz, the capital of Bukovina. Return
  7. This is obviously a mistake, since the 18th of August 1883 fell on a Shabbat. Return
  8. Regalim the name of the three holidays on which pilgrimage to the temple was obligatory: Pesach, Shavuoth and Succoth. Return
  9. The reference seems to be to the extensive properties of the Trust Fund of the Bukovinan Orthodox Church. The Austrian Ministry of Agriculture played a role in the administration of this Fund. Return
  10. Radautz county was divided into a number of judicial districts [Gerichtsbezirke] with their lower level law-courts and tax offices. Return

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