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[Page 67]

Depolya

(Cîmpulung la Tisa, Romania)

47°59' 23°46'

Romanian: Câmpulung la Tisa
Hungarian: Hosszúmezö

Translated by Jerrold Landau

It was a village about 15 kilometers northwest of the district city of Sighet.
Most of its residents were Hungarians, with a minority of Ruthenians and a small minority of Romanians.

Jewish Population

Year Population Percentage
of Jews in the
General
Population
1830   [870 residents]
1920 341 17.7
1930 317 11.2

 

Apparently, the first Jews did not arrive in Depolya before the middle of the 19th century. In any case, in the census of the Jews from the years 1728, 1735, 1746, 1768, no Jews is listed in that village. It is possible that the Hungarian residents of the place severely opposed the settlement of Jews. During the middle ages, Depolya had the status of a Crown City starting from 1329. It was a center of Hungarian nationalism. Monuments in memory of local Hungarian captains who fell in the Hungarian war of independence in 1848/49 were erected there. In this focal point of Hungarian nationalism surrounded by a sea of Romanians and Ruthenians, Jews were not accepted.

Jews were permitted to settle in Depolya only after the suppression of the Hungarian revolt of 1849/49. Indeed, during the 1850s, Jews settlement continued in increasingly large numbers, for there was a sufficiently large economic base, and Jews did very well there. Reb Mendel Zelig Festinger, who had come from Galicia, was among the first Jews to settle in Depolya. He purchased tracts of land and forests, and established an economic infrastructure for tens of Jews who came and settled there.

A short time after the Jews began to stream into Depolya, a wooden synagogue was erected with about 150 seats. It existed until after the Holocaust. During the mid 1930s (approximately 1935), Reb Velvel Einhorn built a Beis Midrash in the yard of his home. The cemetery was opened close to the time of the first settlement. Later, the new cemetery was opened next to it. The Chevra Kadisha [burial society] and the “Chevra Mlatshim”[1] that was affiliated with it were also founded a short time after the founding of the community. The Chevra Mishnayos [Mishna study group] was founded at the beginning of the time of communal consolidation. In the latter period, it was headed by Reb Baruch Leib Itzkovitch, Reb Velvel Einhorn, Reb Getzel Goldberger, Reb Avraham Gross, and others.

Between the two world wars, Reb Chaim Hertz Einhorn, Reb Leib Mandel, and others stood at the helm of the community. After the elderly shochet [ritual slaughterer], who had served in holiness for decades, died in 5688 (1928), Reb Chaim Hillel, an accomplished scholar and rabbinical teacher, of the Hassidim of Sighet, was chosen in his place. He maintained a small Yeshiva in his home for young lads to study before they went out to centers of Torah in the various Yeshivas in the country. He perished in the Holocaust. The community belonged to the district of Sighet, but most of the local Jews were Vishnitz Hassidim, and the minority were Hassidim of Spinka.

The teaching of Torah to the Jewish children was conducted within the realm of the organized Talmud Torah as well as with private teachers. During the final period, the teachers Reb Gershom Shalom Veg, Reb Itzik (a wealthy man who had lost his fortune), Reb Chaim Adler, and Reb Zelig Deutsch disseminated Torah. They were all scholars who were very dedicated to their role. The teachers of Depolya knew how to make the study of Torah beloved amongst the local youths, and almost all of the youths studied in Yeshivas of the country (Tăşnad, Krula, Satmar, and others).

There was a very noticeable percentage of scholars, masters of Torah, and people of the book amongst the householders. The following are some of the names that are remembered: Reb Chaim Itzik Einhorn, Reb Shmelke Fisher, Reb Yaakov Goldberger, Reb Avraham Gross, Reb Baruch Leib Itzkovich, Reb Velvel Einhorn, the brothers Reb Yaakov David and Reb Hirsh Dreiman, Reb Hirsh Adler, Reb Izik Kahana, Reb Gershon Shalom Veg, and Reb Gedalia Veg.

Unlike the situation in the majority of the villages of Maramures, the Jews of Depolya generally earned their livelihoods with ease. About 50% of the local Jews were wealthy or well-off. They included merchants, shopkeepers, and owners of lands and forests. There was a large sawmill that was leased by Jews (such as Mermelstein and Hilman). The final lessee of the sawmill was Dr. Banu, a native of Satmar who immigrated to the United States, where he made a great fortune. (He also leased other large sawmills in other places such as Bixad.) The directors of the sawmill were also always Jews. There also were Jews among the employees of the sawmill, serving as both workers and officials.

During the Holocaust years, the fate of the Jews of Depolya was the same as the fate of all the Jews of the region. We will only mention that in the summer of 1941, a decree of deportation was issued against the Jews of Depolya. Railway cars were already stationed there to collect the deportees. However, the decree was annulled at the last moment.

After the holiday of Passover of 5704 (1944), the Jews of the village were taken to the Solotvyne Ghetto across the Tisa. From there, they were deported to Auschwitz on May 25.

After the Holocaust, some individuals returned to Depolya, but they left after a short time. Most of them made aliya to Israel. The synagogue was dismantled and the lot was sold to a gentile. The mikva [ritual bath] suffered the same fate. However, the cemetery was preserved, and is supervised by one of the gentiles. Today, there is not even one Jew in Depolya.


Bibliography

An interview with a Depolya native
Revai nagy Lexikonja, vol X, p. 310
Testimonies in the Archives of Yad Vashem, 015/2214.


Translator's Footnote:

  1. I am not sure of the meaning of this term, but it may be a refer to the gravestone engravers Return

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