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[Pages 161-165]

Dragomireşti

(Romania)

47°41' 24°18'

Romanian: Dragomireşti
Hungarian: Drágomérfalva

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

It is a village about 45 kilometers southeast of the district city of Sziget. Almost all of its residents were Romanians.

Jewish Population

YearPopulationPercentage
of Jews in the
General
Population
1830828.4
191067125.7
192075628.0
193073923.3
194168420.5

 

The Beginning of the Jewish Settlement

The first Jews settled in Dragomireşti in the middle of the 18th century. The first Jew is mentioned for the first time in the 1746 census. Names of Jews were not listed in that census. According to the census, the Jew worked in liquor distilling and paid lease fees of 10 florins per year. He was married with three children. Apparently, this anonymous Jew did not set down roots in Dragomireşti, for in the census of 1768, two heads of families are noted in Dragomireşti with different data: 1) a Jew named Yaakov (his family name is not given), who was married. He also earned his livelihood from liquor distilling and paid 40 florins per year as rent (arenda); 2) Moshe Hershkovitz, a peddler, married with a child. He paid rent 17 florins per month. We have no knowledge about what became of the first Jews of Dragomireşti – whether they struck roots in the village and formed the kernel of the future community of Dragomireşti, or whether they moved from there to the interior of the country, with Dragomireşti only being a transit point. All of these Jews came from Galicia.

The first Jew about whom we have no doubt that he struck roots in Dragomireşti was Reb Shmuel Stern. He was the son of Reb Mordechai Stern of the nearby village of Sãliştea, who was one of the heads of the Jews of Maramures, and the son of the sister of the well-known Tzadik Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg. Reb Shmuel Stern arrived in Dragomireşti around the year 5540 (1780). Reb Shmuel Stern was a great scholar, and well-known throughout the area. He was an enthusiastic Hassid of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kosov, the author of Ahavat Shalom. He was a wealthy, generous Jew who would host guests in an unusual gracious fashion. He merited having a great son, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Stern, the rabbi of Sziget.

In the census of 1830, the following heads of families were recorded in Dragomireşti (number of individuals in parentheses):

David Itzik (6), Marco Ganz (3), Yaakov Feig (9), Eliahu Spitzer (2), Izak Shneider (5), Yaakov Markovitch (5), Yaakov Gurshba (3), Lazer Spitzer (5), Marco Spitzer (4), Mendel Ganz (3), Yosef Stern (3), Yosef Laks (2), Lazer Ganz (2), Shlomo Aharon (2), Meir Wigder (2), Meir Kuper (2), Yaakov Kuper (7), Shimon Ganz (7), David Shpritzer (6), Yisrael Korbo (4), Shimon Klainer (3).

 

Torah Life

1. Rabbis

The first rabbi of Dragomireşti was Rabbi Moshe Stern the son of Rabbi Binyamin of Perbenik. He was born in the year 5612 (1852). He was the son-in-law of the wealthy Reb Yitzchak Leib Kahana of Oberwischau [Vişeu de Sus]. After being supported by his father-in-law for about ten years, he was chosen as the rabbinical judge and teacher by the community of Dragomireşti. There too, he lived for about ten years (5640-5650 / 1880-1899). Then he was appointed rabbi of Paliev-Riskva, where he died on the 4th of Shvat, 5683 (1923).

Rabbi Moshe Stern earned a good name throughout Maramures through his scholarship, piety, and fine traits. He authored many works, but they were not printed. He is mentioned in several of the Responsa books of the rabbis of his generation. We will mention the responsa that were answered to him during the ten years that he lived in Dragomireşti.

Responsa Avnei Tzedek, Yoreh Deah, paragraph 158: To my beloved friend, the sharp rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Stern, may his light shine, rabbi and teacher in Dragomireşti. Regarding a woman… who had relations with her husband on the third night after immersion, and felt a wet flow prior to that…

Responsa Beit Naftali paragraph 19 (5642): Regarding what was previously written on a question on the opinion of Rabeinu Chananel that is brought down in the Bachya on the Torah portion of Vayeitzei on the verse “The daughters are my daughters…”

Around the year 5646 (1886), Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Hakohen Schwartz the son of Naftali Hakohen Schwartz, the rabbi of the community of Mád and author of Beit Naftali, settled in Dragomireşti. He was born in 5626 (1866) in Oberwischau. He married the daughter of the wealthy Hassid Rabbi Yosef Mordechai Kahana

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of Dragomireşti. From then until his death on 7 Nissan 5696 (1936), he occupied himself with Torah and Divine service in Dragomireşti and also issued responsa on questions of what is permitted and what is forbidden. He authored many books, and the following were published:

Imre Yitzchak on the Torah. Munkacs 5672 / 1912 [2], 73 pages.
Kevod Shabbat on Pirke Avot [Chapters of the Fathers]. Sziget 5685 / 1925 [2], 57 pages.
Kevod Shabbat on Barchi Nafshi and the 15 Shir Hamaalot Psalms[1] that are designated for recitation on Sabbaths. Sziget 5685 / 1925. 15 [1] pages.
Imrei Yitzchak, sermons on the holidays… Section I: 4 Portions, 7 Adar[2], Purim, Shabbat Hagadol, and issues of Passover, Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah. Satu Mare, 5680 / 1920 [1], 34 pages. Section II: Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat Shuva, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Chanukah. Satu Mare, 5690 / 1930. 31 pages. Section III: Sermons for a circumcision, redemption of the first born, Bar Mitzvah, wedding, eulogy, and various miscellaneous items. Satu Mare 5694 / 1934. 32 pages.

Responsa to him:

Responsa Beit Naftali paragraph 23 (5651 / 1891): I looked into the words of Torah that were edited for your wise brother… The honorable Rabbi Yosef, may his light shine.
Responsa Pri Hasadeh section I, paragraph 52 (5657 / 1917): Regarding an androgynous [hermaphrodite] whose male organs were surgically removed by doctors, and is only left with female organs – whether it is permitted for such a person to marry a man.
Responsa Ginzei Yosef paragraph II: Regarding a question of the Gaon Rabbi Avraham Broda of blessed memory…

The second son-in-law of the wealthy man Reb Yosef Mordechai Kahan was Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shapira the son of Moshe Yeshaya Shapira of Tãşnad, Hungary. He also remained in Dragomireşti throughout his life. He was a student of the author of Yitav Lev and Kedushat YomTov[3] of Sziget. He was chosen as the rabbi of the Dragomireşti region in 5671 (1911). He died on 29 Nisan 5700 (1940) close to the age of 80. His published works were as follows:

Moznei Tzedek on the Torah. Munkacs 5672 / 1912. [2], 86 [2] pages.
Hin Tzedek including new articles each month for all the months of the year…. And the various Sabbaths… and the three festivals… and Chanukah and Purim.., For the Four Portions… for the days of the Omer, and the Three Weeks[4]… Munkacs 5673 / 1913. 63 pages.

A responsum to him:

Responsa Vayitzbor Yosef, paragraph 28.

The only rabbi that was chosen in an official manner in Dragomireşti was Rabbi Moshe Israel Feldman the son of Rabbi Efraim Fishel Feldman of Bicskof [Bocicoiul Mare / Veliky Bockov]. He was the son-in-law of Rabbi Yitzchak Schwedron, the head of the rabbinical court of Chatzemir [Khotymyr], who was the son of the Gaon Maharsha'm[5] of Berezhany. He lived in the home of his grandfather-in-law and studied Torah under the guidance of the Maharsha'm who loved him very much. Through his influence, he was appointed as the head of the rabbinical court of Berezhany. After the death of the Maharsha'm (15 Shevat 5671 / 1911) he left Berezhany and returned to Hungary. During the First World War, he lived in Grosswardein [Oradea] and worked in business. In 5681 (1921), he was chosen as the rabbi of Dragomireşti (as well as Kechnia and Sãliştea). He was a Hassid of Rabbi Chaim Hager of Ottinya. He founded a Yeshiva in Dragomireşti called Daat Torah, in which approximately 50 select students studied. He was one of the great rabbis of the country, and a well-known Posek [rabbinical decider]. He fought valiantly the fight of Torah, established fences and filled in breaches. He was a wonderful orator, preaching morality in a fiery, piercing voice. Rabbi Moshe Yechezkel Feldman was brought to the Dragomireşti Ghetto and deported to Auschwitz, where he died on 26 Sivan 5704 (1944).

The beginning of the Torah-literary activity of Rabbi Moshe Yisrael Feldman was the publication of the books of his father, Rabbi Efraim Fishel Feldman: Degel Efraim, responsa and explanations of laws, as well as Sefer Yadot Efraim on the Torah,

{Photo page 162: Rabbi Moshe Israel Feldman.}

Psalms and Pirke Avot (both published in Sziget, 5668 / 1908) with his own addenda and notes (see the article on Bicksof).

After that, he began to publish the works of his grandfather-in-law the Maharsha'm of Berezhany, one after the other.

Responsa Maharsha'm Section III: Satmar 5670 / 1910; Section IV: Lemberg 5673 / 1913; Section V: Seini 5686 / 1926. He arranged the index and added many notes and addenda.
Daat Torah on the laws of ritual slaughter [shechita]… Published a second time with additions… Taltcsava 5671 / 1911 [7], 113, [1] pages, first published in Lemberg 5651 / 1891.
Gilui Daat on the laws of non-kosher animals [Treifot] in Yoreh Deah… Published a second time with additions and amendments… Berezhany 5773 / 1913. [4] 219, 14 4 pages.
First published along with Responsa Maharsha'm Section II: Satmar 5670 / 1910.
Techelet Mordechai on the Torah… In Pardes[6] fashion… Sziget 5673. [7], 53, 152, 2, [1] page.

Gilui Daat on Yoreh Deah from sections 61 to 69… Satmar 5680 / 1920. [3] 11 [1] page.
Emendations of the Maharsha'm on the Talmud… and I have added my novel thoughts… at the time of organizing the manuscript for publication… Satu Mare 5692 / 1932. [4] 86 pages.
Likutei Torah from the book Techelet Mordechai on the Torah… Satu Mare 5683 / 1923. 24 pages.

Only after he fulfilled his obligation toward the books of his father and

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grandfather-in-law the Maharsha'm of Berezhany, did he begin to turn his attention to his own works. However, he only succeeded in publishing two works. All of his manifold writings on many aspects of Torah were lost in the Holocaust:

The Passover Haggadah with the Shem Yisrael commentary… Satu Mare 5688 (1937). [12] 148 pages.
Published by photocopy: New York [5622 / 1962].
Likutei Maharam on the laws of Passover… Satu Mare 5695 / 1935. [4], 16 pages.
Published by photocopy: New York [5622 / 1962].

Several responsa were addressed to him when he was still residing in Bicskof near his father. We will not mention those here (see the article on Bicskof). The following responsa were addressed to him in Berezhany:

Responsa Maharsha'm Section III paragraph 269: Regarding koshering factory machinery of a gentile in which butter and milk are processed…
Ibid. Paragraph 302: Regarding your question about someone who purchased the Chatan Torah honor in the Beit Midrash on Simchat Torah in exchange for the obligation of donating 100 kilograms of flour to the poor. At that time, wheat was cheap, but now the price has doubled. The trustees are demanding that he fulfill his vow, but the purchaser is claiming that he is only obligated to give the equivalent value as to what it would have been worth during the period of the low price…
Responsa Imre Yosher Section II paragraph 82: Regarding a woman who has an issue with her ears… and the doctors told her that if any water would enter her ears, she might become completely deaf – what is she to do with regarding the ritual immersion, and whether she is allowed to put a cloth in her ears…

Rabbi Moshe Israel Feldman issued the following responsa to him during the time he lived in Dragomireşti:

Responsa Mahara'sh Engel section VI paragraph 61 (5689 / 1929): Regarding a dispute that broke out between a husband and a wife, with the husband not wishing to live with her, claiming that the girl who is presumed to be hers is not hers but was purchased from another man…
Ibid section 7 paragraph 133 (5686 / 1926): Regarding a proper permit for business [Heter Iska][7] for a Jewish owned bank, when the matter may save the multitudes from violating the prohibition of interest…
Ibid. section 8 paragraph 4 (5682 / 1922): Regarding an aguna[8] from Mãgura… who fell in war.
Responsa Avnei Zikaron section II paragraph 20 (5683 / 1923): regarding what was noted in the Jerusalem Talmud, first chapter of Tractate Sotah
Ibid. paragraph 29 (5685 / 1925): … Happiness to me, joy that I found it… a page of the responsa of the Maharsha'm section V that was under the printing device…
Ibid. paragraph 65 (5683 / 1923): How honorable is this day when we see before us the honorable responsa that was sent by the author of the Daat Torah book to the rabbi and Gaon, the rabbi of the entire Diaspora[9] of Berezhany of blessed memory, republished by the honorable Gaon, may his light shine… Since I found things that I could not understand, I am hereby presenting them to the Honor of the Holy Torah.
Responsa Chakal Yitzchak paragraph 4: Your precious letter arrived. However, I did not receive the booklet of the Maharsha'm and if the book is already finished, send me the two books, and I will gladly pay the price. That which was written in the name of the Pa'ch and the Rana'sh [Rabbi Nathan Z. Shapiro] that Jacob did not put on the hand tefillin, only the head tefillin… from the manuscript Shaga Beroeh bePesach al Chametz

Responsa Beer Chaim Mordechai section III paragraph 57: Regarding the response of the honorable rabbi in this language: It has been several years since we sat in judgment regarding the couple Shlomo the son of Rabbi Yosef Mordechai Kahana and his wife Feiga the daughter of Reb Yechiel Kahana of a family of honored Kohanim, and the verdict was issued… that the husband must pay 180,000 Lei aside from support money to his wife, and then he can receive a document of discharge. However the husband did not fulfill the verdict… because he is unable to pay such a sum… even though it later became known that he was wealthy. We wrote to his wife that she should come again to a Torah adjudication, but she did not want… Saying that after the act of the court, there is nothing more… In error she went before the ruler… The husband was given the document of refusal, and took the document of refusal to some rabbi known for his lenient rulings and received a permit of 100 rabbis[10] stating that the husband can marry an additional wife over and above his current wife… And the uproar in our country is great… Many have written to me that there is not time to hesitate… to give strength to sinners… and to leave Jewish women without recourse…
Responsa Binyan Tzvi section II paragraph 18 (5702 / 1942): Regarding his question in what is written in the Tosafot of Tractate Taanit 27 folio a.
Responsa Mekadshei Hashem section I paragraph 35 (5686 /1936): Regarding the question in Rosh Hashanah that the shofar of an “elevation offering” should not be blown, and if it is blown, one fulfils the obligation… [Responder: Rabbi Yissachar Berish Dershowitz, head of the rabbinical court of Myslenice].
Ibid. paragraph 46 (5694 / 1934): I have received the book of the Maharsha'm on Talmud, and give notice that I have perused this book and have made some comments of thoughts that have come to my mind as I was perusing through various places… [Responder: Rabbi Yitzchak Yehuda Trunk, head of the rabbinical court of Kutna].

2. Various Scholars Mentioned in the Responsa Books

Dragomireşti was a place of Torah. Scholars and Torah students lived there in numbers out of proportion to most of the communities of Maramures. Several of the scholars adjudicated matters of Jewish law without any intention of receiving payment. We will now note those individuals who conducted Torah discussions with the giants of the generation regarding deep halachic questions as well as issues of practical halacha.

Shmuel Tzvi Weiss:
Responsa Maharsha'm section III paragraph 270: … that which is written by the words of the Sha'ch paragraph 313 subsection 6 whether castration is considered a blemish…
Responsa Pri Hasadeh section III paragraph 109 (5670): About the doubt regarding someone who has wax candles for the lighting of Chanukah candles, but if he were to wait a little, he could obtain olive oil which is preferable for the commandment… but since the time for lighting might pass… it is forbidden for him to wait. This is the content of his opinion…
Responsa Levushei Mordechai [First edition] Choshen Mishpat paragraph 31 (5670 / 1910): Regarding the following case: Reuven and Shimon each slaughtered an animal. Reuven's was rendered non-kosher, and Shimon's had been limping, and it seems that its leg was broken in the femur bone. Since it was nighttime, the shochet said that it was impossible to inspect it to determine whether or not it was kosher. In the morning, a messenger was sent to bring their animals to the abattoir. Reuven immediately sold the meat to a gentile, on the presumption that it was not kosher. Later, when the aforementioned person brought the meat to Shimon, he noticed that it had been switched. Reuven had sold Shimon's animal to the butcher… And he demanded from Reuven recompense money for the kosher animal… and Reuven claimed… that he depended on the messenger… and therefore the messenger is to blame and is responsible to pay…

Rabbi Shmuel Tzvi Fiksler:
Responsa Arugat Habosem Orach Chaim paragraph 138: … Regarding that which was asked about a gentile wet nurse for a Jewish girl that took place… whether if it is impossible for a Jew could it be permissible with a gentile, and should the wet nurse refrain from eating forbidden food. The Pri Megadim is unsure and asks… if we must be careful to ensure that the gentile does not eat leavened products on Passover…

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schwartz:
Responsa Maharsha'm section 7 paragraph 28 (5653 / 1893): … Regarding his question about a Kohen who had a firstborn animal, and when it turned one year old, he told to a simple person that the first born animal was fat and good, and if it would get a blemish, it would be permitted to eat it. Then, a man who castrated calves came by, and he commanded him to castrate the aforementioned first born calf, and indeed he castrated it…

Rabbi Chaim Aryeh Sachs:
Responsa Pri Hasadeh section4 paragraph 89 (5662 / 1902): Regarding a question

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that several years after the old shochet died and left behind a son-in-law who was also a shochet, who had rights of tenure in accordance with the custom there. However many did not approve of him, and they engaged another shochet. In response, the butchers gathered together and took an oath and vow to only slaughter with the son-in-law of the previous shochet. Three butchers affixed their signature to this. Now someone who was the brother-in-law of two of the three butchers and also had studied the laws of ritual slaughter came. Now the two butchers… wish to slaughter with the new shochet.

 

The Organization of the Community, its Institutions and Personalities

Apparently, the community of Dragomireşti organized at the end of the 18th century, a short time after the arrival of Reb Shmuel Stern to the village. He attracted tens of Jews to the town, all of them Kossow Hassidim who had come from Galicia. Almost all of them were employed in his commercial enterprises that developed on a large scale. Reb Shmuel Stern leased, and later purchased, forests for the lumber business, of which he was one of the pioneers in Maramures. He obtained fields and groves occupying large areas. He developed business through the entire rural district, -- especially grain, cattle, sheep and dairy businesses. He employed Jews in all of these as supervisors, measurers, agents for buying and selling, middlemen, workers, and the like.

In the next generation, the wealthy people of the city included Reb Shraga Feibush Kahana and his two sons Reb Yosef Mordechai and Reb Meir. Reb Feibush was the son of Reb Yechiel Tzvi of Sziget who was the son of Reb Yosef Mordechai, the rabbinical judge of Sziget, the son of the author of Kuntres Hasefekot. He apparently married a woman from Dragomireşti, and thereby arrived in the village. As is known, Reb Yosef Mordechai Kahana succeeded in marrying off his two daughters to two great scholars, authors of books, who perpetuated him in their works (Reb Yitzchak Meir HaKohen Schwartz called his father-in-law: “the pious, renowned wealthy man who pursues charity and benevolence”. His second son-in-law Reb Menachem Mendel Shapiro did similarly in his books.)

Reb Yosef Mordechai Kahana was himself a pious Kohen, a wealthy man, and great scholar. His house was open wide to all in need. He conducted himself with simplicity and modesty. There was no closet in his house – he only hung his clothes on the wall. He ate together with his employees during the work in the fields. Before his death, he gathered the members of his household and commanded all of them to conduct themselves with modesty. He delivered words of reproof to them. His name was known throughout all of Maramures.

A Hassidic synagogue and Beit Midrash were built a short time after the founding of the community. Prior to this, a ritual bath [mikva] was set up and a cemetery was opened. The oldest communal institution was the burial society [Chevra Kadisha], to which several charitable and benevolent organizations were affiliated. Since a significant percentage of the villagers were Torah scholars, there were Torah classes for laymen at various levels of ability: Chevra Shas [for Talmud study], Chevra Mishnayos [for Mishna study], Chevra Ein Yaakov and Midrash [for study of Talmudic lore], Chevra Tehillim [for recital of Psalms], and the like. Every Sabbath, they would study Kosov Hassidic works and the Or Chaim book, which is holy to Hassidim.

A Talmud Torah was not set up in an organized fashion. Rather, private teachers would open cheders in which they taught Torah to the children of the community in accordance with their level of sharpness and desire for study as opposed to their age. However, there was communal supervision over the studies through examinations of the children by the scholars of the village.

Many of the Jews of Dragomireşti who first worked in the enterprises of Reb Shmuel Stern succeeded in their own businesses, and became independent businessmen with the passage of time. This broadened the scope of economic enterprises. Some of them became well-to-do and even wealthy. However, they accounted for only 20 percent of the livelihood earners. The rest of the Jews of Dragomireşti worked in lumber manufacturing, measuring the forests, cutting trees, working the land, agricultural activity, wheat and fruit trade, grocery, haberdashery, and the like. Some were also tradesmen, day laborers, and others.

From the year 5629 (1869) until the end of the 19th century, the heads of the community of Dragomireşti, its administrators and notables included: Reb Moshe Avraham Cohen, the aforementioned Reb Yosef Mordechai Kahana, his son Reb Shmuel Zanwil Kahana, Reb Menachem Mendel Malek, Reb Katriel the son of Rabbi Yitzchak Menachem Kizelnik, Reb Avraham Baruch Steinmetz, Reb Shlomo Ganz, Reb Meir Kahana, Reb Menachem Yeshaya HaKohen Schwartz, Reb Yaakov Kahana, Reb Meir Rothenstein, Reb Yisrael HaKohen Jazovitch.

{Photo page 164: The synagogue in Dragomireşti.}

From 1900 until the First World War, the communal heads and notables were: Reb Chaim Fuchs (the grandson of the author of the Erech Shai of Sziget), Reb Aharon Yeshaya Gottlieb, Reb Yisrael Kahana, Reb Mordechai Davidovitch, Reb Shimon Sabo, Reb Chaim Meir Ganz, Reb Menachem Klein, Reb Dov Ber Ganz, Reb Yisrael Shpritzer, Reb Chaim Leib Sachs, Reb Chaim Leib Malek, Reb Zelig Moshe Fligman.

 

The Holocaust

The Hungarians deported Jews of the following villages to Dragomireşti: Rozavalea, Sacel, Saliştea, Strîmtura, Şieu. Kechnia, Ieud, Glod, Botiza, Falien-Glod, Slatina, and three other small villages. On Saturday, the last day of Passover 5604 (April 15, 1944), the Jews of Dragomireşti were transferred to the ghetto that was set up in the center of the village. Two members of the Hungarian gendarmes accompanied by two farmer officials went from house to house to collect the Jews of the village.

Most of these words were written by a writer, a native of the village Şieu, Chaim

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Israel Perl, who dedicated some space to describe the ghetto of Dragomireşti in his work on Şieu (manuscript).

All the Jews with their children and meager belongings were squeezed into the houses of the Jews of Dragomireşti. The people lived in stables, barns, threshing floors, fodder storehouses and any other place that could be turned into living quarters. The generosity of the local Jews was boundless. They deprived themselves so that the residents of the area could find some place to lay down their feet.

On the first days, it was possible to walk around the ghetto area in an almost free manner. It seems that this was one of the planned traps, to give people a feeling that nothing was going to happen and that, at the right time, the men would be sent to work. There were no attempts at escape to the forests, and there was no other plan other than to sit and wait. There was no communication with the leaders of the Hungarian Jewry. The people of Maramures, and especially the Jews of Dragomireşti and surroundings were isolated. News of the ghettos in Poland, the concentration camps and the death camps did not reach them. There was no directing or leadership hand. The gendarmes organized some sort of Jewish police to preserve internal order.

The lack of food was not felt in the Dragomireşti Ghetto, since the village Jews brought the produce of their land with them. When the food was used up, permission was given to arrange caravans to each village in order to return to the closed houses and bring food. The Jewish police under the supervision of the Judenrat concerned itself with the fair distribution of food. Looking back, it is appropriate to note that the Judenrats in the villages of Maramures were perhaps the only ones that did not arouse feelings of anger and suspicion. Even in the tragic situation when they were in charge of the lives and food of the residents of the ghetto, those trustees remained dedicated and faithful, concerned with their charges. This is how they acted during the ordinary days, as well as in the ghetto, and this is how they mounted the stake.

An interesting fact – and perhaps this was a reaction to the shock of the emptying of the villages of their Jewish residents – the farmers of the area, and especially the farmers' wives, began to bring bundles of flour, oil, milk, butter, and vegetables. Each one brought food to “her own Jew.” I myself (the writer Chaim Israel Perl) witnessed this type of humane act when the farmers came to my elderly, 76-year-old uncle Reb Ezriel Anshel's from Şieu, who had owned lands, and brought him food. More touching was when they would come barefoot and tired from a distance of 15-25 kilometers in order to get advice from him about planting and working the fields. One day, the wife of his tenant who was the age of his children showed up. This farmer was set up and established through Reb Ezriel. He built him his house on the field, enabled him to establish a family, guided him in plowing and sowing, financed the improvement of the field, and divided the proceeds equally for forty years. The farmer's wife came to me, barefoot and sobbing, with sacks filled with all sorts of fine produce on her shoulders. When she entered and saw Reb Ezriel, her landlord, sitting with his meager sack in the corner of the room, with a stubble beard, pale and weak, she bust out in bitter weeping, and all the residents of the house joined with her. Reb Ezriel merited in being buried in a Jewish grave. A few days after the decree of cutting off the beards and peyot [side locks] which was a particularly tragic event for the Jews of Maramures, Reb Ezriel died. He worshipped at the communal services, recited his chapter of Psalms and Maamadot[11], and closed his eyes forever. The members of the Chevra Kadisha signed the heirs of Reb Ezriel to a financial obligation of 2,000 Pengo for burial fees. This incident demonstrated the state of mind of the Jews of Maramures and the hope in their hearts that the situation in which they found themselves was temporary. They could not imagine what was awaiting them within a very short time…

On May 14, the men between ages 12-60 were separated from the women, elderly people and children. The former were taken into the local school building, which used to serve as an army horse stable, and was filled with excrement and filth. Next to the bridge that leads to the school building, the Jews were met by tens of armed gendarmes and collaborating farmers armed with sticks and clubs, arranged on both sides of the narrow bridge. Every Jew who crossed the bridge was beaten cruelly with the butts of rifles and sticks. Tens of them fell into the river under the bridge. Without doubt, the purpose of the separation was to prevent a rebellion and uprising by the men. Hundreds of gendarmes with the assistance of youths from the village who were fascist loyalists surrounded the schoolyard with a thick net to prevent escape. Inside the school building, their belongings were examined and anything of value was plundered. There too, the gendarmes inflicted many blows. The second group, consisting of women, the elderly, and children, were brought into the synagogue for the same purpose – to plunder any item of value.

The following day, May 15 – in the interim, the men spent the night in the school filled with human filth and horse excrement – the exhausting journey began to the railway station of Unterwischau, from where they were deported to Auschwitz. At dawn, the women and children began to arrive at the concentration point. Hungarian captains stood at the side, and the Germans supervised the activity. Tens upon tens of wagons hitched to horses waited along the way, but only the elderly, women, and children were permitted to board them. The men made the entire journey up a mountain by foot. The journey of approximately 25 kilometers was fraught with many obstacles. The marchers continually weakened during the exhausting journey in the direction of the Bitchkivel Mountains. One after another, they removed their packs, which were snatched up by the farmers who accompanied the tormented marchers from behind in order to pounce on the belongings. The gendarmes prodded the marchers with murderous blows. The entire journey from Kechnia to the peak of Mount Bitchkivel was covered with men, women, and children. It was a long chain of people in many colors.

The first victim fell during the first hours of the journey. A Jew from the village of Rozavalea named Reb Leizer died from a weakness (for details, see the article of Rozavalea). The second victim was a Jew named Davidovitch, who pleaded with the gendarmes that his strength was gone, and he had not strength to continue onward. He was shot on the spot and buried in the forest.

They reached the railway tracks at sunset. Tens of wagons waited on the tracks. The Hungarian gendarmes displayed all of their lowliness and baseness next to the wagons. Apparently, they wanted to demonstrate to their German overlords waiting there that they were fitting students. Without discrimination, they beat the weary men to death, as well as the women who were worried about their scattered children. They prodded the Jews into the wagons with bayonets and rifle butts. The Hungarian soldiers took up shooting positions at the sides of the tracks. The weeping and screaming pierced the night. The mothers searched for their children, and the children searched for their parents. The darkness increased the

[Page 166]

fear, and the crying increased the trepidation. Children were trampled and crushed by the crowding. They entered the wagons separated from their parents and families. While the mothers were still calling out the names of their dear lost children, the wagons were sealed and the locomotive began to whistle and puff, dragging their human cargo to the land of destruction.

On Friday morning the eve of the holy Sabbath, the 26th of Iyar 5704 (May 18, 1944), giant floodlights lit up the wagons. The light of the chimneys spewing smoke and the smell of burning flesh pierced the darkness… The Jews of the Dragomireşti Ghetto reached Auschwitz, their final destination.

In the wagon carrying the revered Rabbi Moshe Israel Feldman, the despondent deportees had the merit of hearing words of encouragement from their rabbi. Throughout the awful journey, he spoke about issues of the sanctification of the Divine Name, and its immediate meaning. He and his entire family – the rebbetzin, his son Rabbi Chaim, the young rabbi of Dragomireşti (the son-in-law of Rabbi Shlomo Heller, the head of the rabbinical court of Sziget), his daughter and son-in-law Reb Moshe Stroli the son of Rabbi Peretz, the rabbinical judge and teacher of the city of Felsõbánya, his second daughter and son-in-law Reb Moshe Friedlander the son of the rabbi of Borgofrund – all of them mounted the stake in sanctification of the Divine Name.

After the war, approximately 50 Holocaust survivors returned to Dragomireşti. However, they left the village within a short time and most of them made aliya to Israel.

Today, there is no Jewish community in Dragomireşti.

 

Bibliography

Greenwald, Yekutiel Yehuda: Matzevet Kodesh [Holy Monument], Section I: Sziget and the District of Maramures, New York 5712 / 1952, page 15.
Ibid.: A Millennium of Jewish Life in Hungary, New York, 5710 / 1950, page 234.
Maramures-Sziget [Periodical in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Hungarian, edited by Yehoshua and Helen Reich], Tel Aviv, issue 27, page 9.
Perl, Chaim Israel: Extinguished Candles in Maramures, Tel Aviv 5718 /1958.
Ben-Menachem, Naftali: Regarding Jewish Literature in Hungary, Jerusalem 5718 / 1958. pp. 301-304.
Gottlieb, Shmuel Noach: Oholei Shem [Tents of Shem], Pinsk, 5672 / 1912, page 273.
These I remember, Volume 5, New York 5723 / 1963, pp. 66-70.
Roseman, Shlomo: Rashei Galut Ariel, Section I, Brooklyn 5736 / 1976, pp. 426-435.
Teitelbaum, Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda: Responsa Avnei Tzedek, Yoreh Deah, Lemberg 5646 / 1886, paragraph 158.
Schwartz, Rabbi Naftali: Responsa Beit Naftali, Pecs 5659 /1899, paragraphs 19, 23, 49, 50, 69, 79, 80.
Schwedron, Rabbi Shalom Mordechai HaKohen: Responsa Maharsha'm, Section II, Piotrków 5665 (1905), paragraph 85; Section III, Szatman 5670 / 1910, paragraphs 269, 32.
Deitsch, Rabbi Eliezer, Responsa Pri Hasadeh, Section I, Pecs 5666 / 1906, paragraph 52; Section IV, ibid. 5675 / 1915, paragraph 89.
Greenwald, Rabbi Moshe: Responsa Arugat Habosem, Orach Chaim, Svalyva 5672 / 1912, paragraph 138.
Winkler, Rabbi Mordechai Leib: Responsa Levushei Mordechai [First edition], Choshen Mishpat, Svolyava 5673 / 1913, paragraph 31.
Engel, Rabbi Shmuel: Responsa Mahara'sh Engel, Section VI, Bardejov 5698 / 1938, paragraph 61; Section VIII, London 5717 / 1957, paragraph 4.
Pfeffer, Rabbi Alter Shaul: Responsa Avnei Zikaron, Section II. Satmar 5691 / 1931, paragraph 20, 29, 65.
Rozler, Rabbi Chaim Mordechai: Responsa Beer Chaim Mordechai, Section III, Kalusz 5696 / 1936, paragraph 57.
Meizels, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch: Responsa Binyan Tzvi, Section I, Chicago 5715 / 1955, paragraphs 35, 46.
Magyar-Zsido Okleveltar, Budapest vol. VII, 1963, p. 747; vol. XVI 1976, p. 100
Levai, Jeno: Fekete Könyv, Budapest 1946, p. 132.
Yad Vashem Archives: MIE/2600

 

Translator's Footnotes:
(Translator notes are denoted in the text with double square brackets, to differentiate them from single square brackets that appear in the text itself.)
  1. Barchi Nafshi is Psalm 104. The Shir Hamaalot Psalms are Psalms 120-134. These Psalms are recited during winter Sabbath afternoons, as opposed to Pirke Avot, which is recited on summer Sabbath afternoons. Return
  2. The four special Torah portions read during the month of Adar. The 7th of Adar is the birth date and death date of Moses. Return
  3. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yekusiel_Yehuda_Teitelbaum_%28I%29 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chananya_Yom_Tov_Lipa_Teitelbaum Return
  4. The three week mourning period between the fasts of 17 Tammuz and Tisha B'Av. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Weeks Return
  5. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sholom_Mordechai_Schwadron Return
  6. An acronym standing for an increasing deepening explanation on a section: See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pardes_%28Jewish_exegesis%29 Return
  7. A Jew is not allowed to charge or to pay interest to another Jew. As this impacts many common business transactions, a Heter Iska contract can be drawn up that defines the relationship as a partnership agreement rather than a lending agreement. This type of contract is commonly used for Jewish owned banks to enable them to conduct business in a competitive manner. See http://www.needaneitzah.com/questions/124/what-in-short-is-a-heter-iska Return
  8. A woman who is bound in marriage and cannot remarry because her husband has disappeared, and no proof of death is available. In modern times, it refers as well (and more commonly) to a woman who is bound in marriage and cannot remarry because her husband refused to grant a get [document of Jewish divorce]. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agunah Return
  9. A flowery, literary title for a great rabbi. Return
  10. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heter_meah_rabbanim Return
  11. A daily selection of biblical, Mishnaic and Talmudic passages recited to commemorate the daily temple sacrifices. Return

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