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[Pages 249-266]

Chust

(Khust, Ukraine)

48°11' 23°18'

Russian: Khust
Hungarian: Huszt
Ruthenian: Chust

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Edited by Yocheved Klausner

Admorim, Rabbinical Judges, Authors

Chust was not known as a Hassidic center. Despite the fact that a significant proportion of the Jews of the cities followed Hassidic customs and visited the courts of various Admorim in the country and outside of it, Chust did not have an influential Hassidic court or a Hassidic spiritual master whose court would be visited on festivals and special Sabbaths by Hassidim from other places. This was different from the case of Sighet to the east and Muncacz to the west, which had their own Admorim that were followed by thousands of Hassidim, and whose courts bustled with a never-ending movement of Hassidim. It was also unlike the city of Selish, whose rabbi was not an Admor, but where a well-known Admor settled, whose Hassidim streamed in to visit at various times. Chust satisfied itself with the crown of Torah.

Still during the lifetime of the Maharam Shik[1] the well-known Tzadik Reb Mordechai Leifer of Nadvorna lived in Chust. However, he did not strike roots there, and moved to nearby Bustyna (Bishtina), where he died on the first day of Sukkot, 5655 (1894). His eulogy in the “Sigheter Zeitung” (5655, number 2, 5, Bereshit), stated that he arrived in Hungary 30 years earlier. That would mean that he had already settled in Hungary in the year 5625 (1865). Before he moved to Bustyna, he lived not only in Chust, but also in the town of Kiviasd. However, we do not know whether his time in Kiviasd was prior to Chust, or vice versa. His biographers are also not clear on this point. In any case, throughout all the years that he lived in Chust, he never met face to face with the Maharam Shik, as is related by several of his biographers, including Reb Yekutiel Yehuda Greenwald. It is no wonder that these two flames, who were so different in their way of life, did not find a common language. A rabbi and Gaon of the stature of Maharam Shik, who did not deviate one small iota from the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law)

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was not able to understand the ways of Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna, who, among his other customs that surprised many, would recite the Shacharit service toward evening. It is told, for example, that the rabbinical judge Rabbi Yakov Katina once came to Maharam Shik after the stars came out and said that he had just come from a circumcision ceremony that took place in the Beit Midrash of Reb Mordechai of Nadvorna[2]. The Maharam Shik was shaken up and asked whether the circumcision had been conducted at night. The rabbinical judge answered that it had been performed before the stars came out. Nevertheless, when the Maharam Shik was asked about his opinion of Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna, he answered, “The masses say that he is a holy man.” It seems that the two of them avoided meeting personally out of mutual agreement, even though Mordechai of Nadvorna would send Mishloach Manot[3] to the Maharam Shik on Shushan Purim. Maharam Shik did not send any in return, because he explained that he only sent Mishloach Manoton that day to people of authority. There is no question that the fact that Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna lived in Chust made an impression upon the Jews of the city, for aside from his righteousness and character traits, he was graced with unusual personal charm. As he is described in the aforementioned eulogy, “Fortunate is the person who saw his face… as the image of an angel of G-d, beaming and lit up with great splendor, to the point where he instilled awe upon anyone who saw him. The grace from his lips and his pleasant conversations attracted the hearts of all who heard him with bonds of love…” (For additional details about Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna and a list of his works, and works about him, see the entry on Bustyna.)

{Photo page 250: Rabbi Yisrael Yakov Leifer of Nadvorna.}

Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna's younger son, Rabbi Yisrael Yakov Leifer, settled in Chust already during the life of his father. He lived in Chust for close to 40 years. His father held him in high esteem and designated him to fill his place. Indeed, he filled his place in this area of Maramures to a certain degree, for one of his two oldest sons lived in Satmar and the other in Kretshnif. A third son lived in Galicia. Rabbi Yisrael Yakov Leifer was known in Chust as a man of wonders. Even German Jews asked for his advice and support. He would write prescriptions for drugs, which were honored by the pharmacy in Chust. He died on 9 Adar II, 5689 (1929) and was buried next to his father in Bustyna.

His son Reb Shmuel Shmelke Leifer took his place. He had already become well-known and earned praise during the life of his father. He was very diligent in Torah, studying 18 hours consecutively. He was blessed with a wonderful memory. He was educated in the house of his grandfather Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna. The elder Hassidim said that his prayers were recited in the same style of his grandfather. He died on the 29 of Sivan 5694 (1934), and was also buried in Bustyna. His wife, the Rebbetzin Yuta Roiza the daughter of Yakov Kopel the head of the rabbinical court of Rzepnik, was deported from Chust in 1941. According to what was heard, she was murdered in Kamenetz Podolsk along with two of her children, a son and a daughter. The customs of Reb Shmuel Shmelke were published in the book Maamar Mordechai Hechadash that was printed in Brooklyn in 5724 (1964), in the Beit Shmuel chapter.

The last one to represent Nadvorna Hassidism in Chust was Rabbi Aharon Moshe the son of Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke Leifer. His son-in-law Rabbi Baruch Pinchas Rabinowitz of Skolia was a descendant of the Maggid of Zloczew. During the Holocaust, after his mother and brothers were exiled to Poland, he escaped from Chust and hid until the end of the war. He settled in Boro Park in Brooklyn, where he established his Beit Midrash. He added his own words of Torah under the name “Perach Shushan” in the Maamar Mordechai Hechadash book that was published in Brooklyn in 5724.

We do not know all of the rabbinical judges and teachers who served in Chust. We will mention those we do know.

Apparently, when Maharam Shik came to Chust, his son-in-law Rabbi Yakov Prager came along with him. He was a sharp scholar and decisor. A few years after they settled in Chust, he was appointed as a rabbinical judge and member of the rabbinical court. After the passing of Maharam Shik, Rabbi Yakov Prager left Chust and was accepted as the rabbi of Ada, where he died at an old age on the 16th of Sivan, 5678 (1818). He authored the responsa book Sheelat Yakov (Vienna, 5667 / 1907).

Rabbi Yakov Katina was a judge along with Rabbi Yakov Prager. Aside from his greatness in Torah, he was an enthusiastic Hassid of Sanz. Almost every year, he remained in Sanz from the Sabbath prior to Selichot until after Sukkot. He died on the 9th of Shvat, 5650 (1890). The inscription on his gravestone can be found in the Rachmei Haav book, Jerusalem, 5739 (1979). There is a responsum addressed to him in the Beit Shearim Responsa book, Yoreh Deah, section 447 (from the year 5641 / 1881), addressed “To my friend, the great rabbi… who conducts himself in a Hassidic style, Rabbi Yakov Katina, may his light shine, a rabbinical judge in the holy community of Chust.” Rabbi Yakov Katina authored several books, all of them anonymously. One of his books enjoyed unusual success, and was printed in several additions:

This small book is called Rachmei Haav (Mercy of the Father), and contains 58 sections regarding the perfecting of character traits. He wrote this book for his children to direct them along the proper path…. Czernowitz, 5668 (1908). It has 20 pages.

Six editions were printed during the author's lifetime: One in Czernowitz, three in Lwow, and two in Warsaw. In the fifth edition, the author added on the title page verses that form an acrostic of his name Yakov. After his death, a seventh edition was published by the author's grandson, Rabbi Meir Yehuda Katina, who was a bookseller in Chust. After that time, it was reprinted many times: in Munkacz, Krakow, Lublin, Margareten, Germany, Jerusalem, and New York.

This book was also translated into Judeo-Arabic and printed in Djerba[4] in 5699 (19399). During the last few years it was published several times with the addition of glosses by the Gaon Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Ehrenreich of Semleul, that were copied from his own copy.

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The book Korban Heani (the Sacrifice of the Poor), a sacrifice offered by one of the poor of the people, who took from what he had… Many adages are found in the books… and the words of morality found in that book should leave an impression upon the hearts of the Jewish people… Lwow, 5632 (1872)[5] [[3]]. 57 pages.

The new Korban Heani book… was reprinted a second time with additions and corrections… Lemberg, 5642 (1882), 84 pages.

After him, Rabbi Shmuel David HaKohen Friedman served as the rabbinical judge. His father Rabbi Tzvi Friedman was the rabbinical judge in Beregsat. Prior to serving in Chust, Rabbi Shmuel David served as the rabbinical judge in Veretzki. He is mentioned frequently in the Responsa books of the scholars of his generation.

The Responsa book Avnei Tzedek, Orach Chaim, section 23, Yoreh Deah sections 81, 120; The Responsa of Maharsham volume 1, sections 69, 70, 76, 108; volume 2, sections 150, 156; volume 3 sections 69, 76, 258, 259, 266; volume 4 sections 15, 55, 73; Responsa book Harei Besamim first edition, sections 52, 65, 68; Responsa Pri Hasadeh, volume 3, sections 105, 107; Responsa Imrei Yosher volume 1, section 175; Responsa Maharash Engel volume 3, section 78 (5683 / 1923), section 103 (5677 / 1917); volume 4 section 88 (5674 / 1914); volume 5 section 104 (5686 / 1926); volume 7, section 59 (5681 / 1921).

The rabbinical judge Rabbi Shmuel David Friedman was one of the important Hassidim and among those who were close to Rabbi Yechezkel of Sienawa. He served as a rabbinical judge in Chust for close to 50 years, and was a member of the rabbinical court of “Beit Hayotzer”, “Arugat Habosem”, and Maharitz Dushinsky.

Rabbi Shmuel David Friedman wrote the book Shraga Betahara on the laws of Nidda[6] in Yiddish (Chust, 5672 / 1912). He died in the year 5693 (1933).

The last rabbinical judge was the son of Rabbi Yakov HaKohen Friedman, who was the son-in-law of Rabbi Shlomo Eliezer Weisel, the head of the rabbinical court of Ternova. He was accepted and admired by the majority of the Jews of Chust. He was murdered in sanctification of the Divine Name in Auschwitz. A responsum from him to Rabbi Yoel Katz of Erded in the Talelei Orot Responsa book that was attached to the Responsa book of Maharap Shosberg, Groswardein, 5704 (1944), page 107 and 5702 (1942).

Rabbi Yehuda Grunfeld lived in Chust for approximately 18 years. His father Rabbi Shemaya was called Rabbi Shemaya the Hassid by everyone on account of his great piety and care in the commandments. Around the year 5617 (1857), he married the daughter of the wealthy Hassid Rabbi Mordechai Kahana, one of the important householders of Chust, who was the grandson of Rabbi Mordechai HaKohen, the brother of the author of Ketzot Hachoshen and the author of Kuntrus Hasefekot. For all the years, he occupied himself with Torah and divine service in the house of his father-in-law. He greatly enjoyed sharing words of Torah with Maharam Shik, who liked him very much and showed him tokens of honor and esteem. The author of Yitav Lev also drew him near and honored him. He became well-known, to the point where the community of Samiheli invited him to accept its rabbinate, and he agreed. It is appropriate to add an amazing fact: on the night of the passing of his father-in-law (the day after Sukkot, 5645, 1884), he wrote him a letter to Samiheli and ended with the verse “may death be swallowed up forever”[7]. The next day, he passed away. Rabbi Yehuda Grunfeld died on 3 Adar, 5667 (1907). Of all of his compositions that he left behind, only one booklet was published: the Kol Yehuda booklet of Responsa, that was added to the book of his son, Rabbi Shimon Grunfeld, Responsa Maharshag, volume 2, Jerusalem, 5721 (1961) pages 313-330, including 27 sections, all written in Samiheli.

Rabbi Pinchas Naftali Yerushalmi, a Torah scribe in Chust, was a great scholar and talented orator. He was born in the year 5588 (1828) in the city of Gombin in Poland (the city of the author of the Magen Avraham). His father Rabbi Yitzchak, who was one of the rabbis of the city, died when he was six years old. In the year 5600 (1840), Rabbi Pinchas Naftali came to Hungary with the agreement of the author of Divrei Chaim, who told the Bar Mitzvah boy to “Go to the Land of Hagar [Hungary], it will not damage you.” He studied in the Yeshiva of Maharam A”sh in Ungvar (Uzhorod). When his son Rabbi Menachem A”sh arrived in Chust, Rabbi Pinchas Naftali joined him. He also drew close to Reb Shmelke and later to Maharam Shik, who consulted with him in matters of Jewish law, especially regarding the names of men and women as relevant to the writing of Gittin (bills of divorce), for he was very expert as a scribe of Gittin. He was a scribe of Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot, and gave classes to the householders every day. He would sermonize each Sabbath and innovate sweet thoughts on Torah. He was given the drafts of the Imrei Esh Responsa book, and later the Maharam Shik Responsa book, which he prepared for publication after adding an introduction and brief notes. He died on 19 Adar II, 5645 (1885). A few years after his death, his son Rabbi Avraham Yekutiel Schwartz, who was also a Torah scribe in Chust, published his work:

The Nefesh Tova on the Torah…. Sermons… Which were delivered in public… I copied them and brought them to print… His son and student Avraham Yekutiel.. Sighet 5649 (1889)[5] [[3]], 136 pages.

With many additions from the author, it was brought to print with the name Chodesh Haaviv.

The book contains Torah thoughts that he heard from his rabbi, Maharam A”sh (page 25 folio a, 55 folio a, 60 folio b, 67 folio b, 73 folio b, 85 folio a, 89 folio b, 100 folio a, 108 folio b, 123 folio a, 125 folio a, 134 folio b and others) from his son Rabbi Menachem A”sh (page 126, folio b), from Rabbi Shmelke Klein (page 24 folio a, 61 folio a, 9 folio a), Maharam Shik (page 45 folio b, 49 folio a, 119 folio a, 121 folio b, 123 folio b), his son-in-law Rabbi Yakov Prager (page 84 folio a), Rabbi Amram Blum (page 104 folio b), Rabbi Yehuda Grunfeld (page 44 folio a, 69 folio a, 114 folio b), and also from the teacher of Rabbi Yehuda Grunfeld the author of Kol Aryeh (page 44 folio a, 114 folio b). Rabbi Pinchas Naftali also included Torah thoughts that he heard from the Tzadik Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna, almost certainly from the years that he lived in Chust (page 66 folio b).

The book was written in a superb style and with good taste.

From among the wise men of Chust, it is worthwhile to also mention Rabbi Yitzchak Frenkel. His father Rabbi Eliahu Frenkel lived in the town Liska for many years. There he basked in the shadow of the Tzadik Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Friedman the author of Ach Pri Tevua. Later, he was selected as the rabbi of the community of Levelek in the region of Szabolcz, where he died on the first day of Passover, 5648 (1888). Rabbi Yitzchak Frenkel married the daughter of Rabbi Moshe Shimon Roth the head of the rabbinical court of Jura, who died in his prime at the age of 32. The young orphan grew up in the home of her grandfather in Chust, the Gaon Rabbi Yoel Tzvi the author of Beit Hayotzer, until she came of age and married Rabbi Yitzchak Frenkel, whose father was also her uncle (the brother-in-law of Rabbi Eliahu Frenkel). Rabbi Yitzchak Frenkel lived in Chust for many years, being supported at the table of his grandfather-in-law the author of Beit Hayotzer. He apparently helped him in matters of the rabbinate, teaching, and conducting the Yeshiva. Even after the death of the author of Beit Hayotzer, Rabbi Yitzchak Frenkel continued to live in Chust, apparently being supported by the community as a rabbi, even though he did not have an official appointment. In the year 5660 (1900), he made aliya and settled in Jerusalem. With the reorganization of the Edah Hacharedit[8] rabbinate after the First World War, Rabbi Yitzchak Frenkel joined the rabbinical court of Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld. He died in Jerusalem on the 27 of Av, 5691 (1931).

Rabbi Yitzchak Frenkel published three of his father's books, with his additions. The third was already published in Jerusalem:

The book Avnei Eliahu on the Torah… He also dedicated some words of lore to his holy father in law the Gaon… Rabbi Moshe Shimon of holy blessed memory, the head of the rabbinical

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court of Jura, may his virtue stand us in good stead… Sections a and b. Munkacz, 5649-5650 (1890). [[4]], 77, [[3]]; [[1]], 54 pages.

The book Orot ElimImrot Tehorot… On the prophets, writings, and lore… Munkacz 5659. [[2]]. 36 pages, with many additions in the body of the book under the name of “Bnei Elim”. As well, at the end of the book there are several novel ideas on Talmudic discussions by the author Rabbi Yitzchak Frenkel.

The Ateret Eliahu book, including wonderful and pleasant novel ideas on great and deep legal issues of the Talmud… With didactics and straightforward explanations… Jerusalem, 5673 (1903. [[3]], 78 pages.

At the foot of every page there are many long glosses by Rabbi Yitzchak Frenkel, with the name “Vayeetar Yitzchak”.

In the years 5685-5690 / 1925-1930, the Admor Rabbi Moshe of Kalob lived in Chust. He was a renowned scholar, expert in Kaballah. His sweet voice attracted many people from the city and neighboring villages to his prayers. Due to objections from one Admor, he was forced to leave the city. He moved to the city of Sighet. During the latter years, he would come for the High Holidays on occasion.

During the final ten years prior to the Holocaust, the Rabbi of Lipsha, Rabbi Moshe Greenzweig the son of Rabbi Asher Zelig Greenzweig the rabbi of Vlahi, settled in Chust. He was a great scholar, and a student of the author of Kedushat Yomtov of Sighet. He founded a Beit Midrash in his home, and attracted many people to his prayers and sermons. He perished with his family in Auschwitz on the eve of Shavuot, 5704 (1944).

It is appropriate to mention Rabbi Itze Meir Landau, the Hassidic prayer leader of the Great Beit Midrash for tens of years. He was the brother of Rabbi Shalom Noach Landau, the rabbi of Veretzki, and the brother-in-law of the shochet [ritual slaughterer] and Hassidic composer Rabbi Berish of Vishevichi. Each holiday and festival, his brother-in-law brought in, and he himself would also compose, new melodies, which within a few days became known to the masses, and brought joy to the Jewish home.

Through marriage, Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Segal Deutsch also settled in Chust. He was born in a Transylvanian village near the city of Medvesh to the righteous and pious villager Reb Yosef. He studied for many years in the Yeshiva of the author of Arugat Habosem. From there, he was chosen as a son-in-law by Rabbi Avraham Yekutiel Schwartz, the aforementioned scribe in Chust. Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Deutsch lived in Chust until the year 5662 (1902). He served as the rabbinical judge in the community of Makovo for 35 years, where he died on the 18th of Tishrei, 5688 (1937). He wrote many useful books that are still in print until this day: Mayim Chaim on the Tractate of Nidda, Beer Yehuda on Sefer Chareidim, Rachvat Yadayim on Chamudei Daniel, Ahavat Chaim on the Torah, Ahavat Chaim on the festivals, Ruach Chaim on tradition, and Kol Yehuda on the Passover Hagaddah. Two of his sons serve in the rabbinate in Israel: Rabbi Yehoshua Deutsch the rabbi of the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem, and Rabbi Yakov Shmaryahu Deutsch, the rabbi of Satmar after the war, and after his aliya, the rabbi of Kehilat Chug Chatam Sofer in Petach Tikva.

In the year 5666 (1906) another scholar moved to Chust: Rabbi Yitzchak Meir the son of Rabbi Moshe Dov Landau. He was born in Veretzki in the year 5634 (1874), where his father served as a rabbi. He learned most of his Torah from his father. He married the daughter of Rabbi Yisrael Shalom Taub from Bergegsas, moved to Chust, and set up a Beit Midrash for himself there. His prayers were pleasant and tearful. He became friendly with Rabbi Yakov Yechizkia Greenwald (see later). For many years, he served as the rabbi of the “Tiferet Shabbath” group in Chust, founded during the days of Maharam Shik. He gave classes there, and delivered sermons on didactics and lore. He perished in Auschwitz on the first day of Shavuot, 5704 (1944) along with his wife. When he was hauled to the deportation train, his friend Rabbi Yakov Yechizkia noticed that he was wearing a kittel and tallis under his outer garment. Rabbi Yechizkia said, “I see that Reb Itza Meir knows where they are taking us.” One of his sons-in-law was Rabbi Eliahu Leichtag, a rabbi in Satmar. Another son-in-law was Rabbi Mordechai Deutsch, the head of the rabbinical court of Veliatin (see entry) – additional details about Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Landau can be seen in the appendix of Dov Moskowitz at the end of this article].

We will conclude this section by mentioning Rabbi Yakov Yechizkia the son of Rabbi Amram Greenwald. He was born in the year 5631 (1871). He learned most of his Torah from his brother, the Gaon and author of Arugat Habosem. He married the daughter of the communal leader Reb Yehoshua Reich of Stropkov, who bore him sons and seven daughters. After her death, he married the daughter of Rabbi Tzvi Bergfeld, the head of the rabbinical court of Nemescsó who bore him a son and two daughters.

He lived in Chust for his entire life, at first in the shadow of his brother whom he held in high esteem. Even after his brother's death, he remained in Chust and refused to accept the yoke of a rabbinical position. He was great in Torah, and conducted himself in a Hassidic manner. He was connected to the Admorim of Belz, who also held him in high esteem. Once, still during the lifetime of his brother, he agreed to serve in the rabbinate of Horenice under the influence of his brother, and even made preparations to move there. However, he recanted and remained in Chust. He was modest in his conduct in Divine service and Torah, but the Jews of Chust honored him greatly, recognized his worth, and realized that he was one of the sublime people who flee from honor. He was in the Chust Ghetto, and was deported to Auschwitz, where he perished on Saturday, the eve of the Festival of Shavuot, 5704 (1944) in sanctification of the Divine Name.

To complete the picture, we must also mention the personage of a rabbi and Maskil, all of whose writings note with pride his birthplace of Chust in the title page: Rabbi Moshe the son of Rabbi Yakov Shalmon, born in Chust on 7 Adar 5588 (1838). His father was “a poor man who always conducted himself honestly.” He was “numbered among those who knew the language and the book” (as stated by his son). Even before he became Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Moshe Shalmon studied in the Yeshiva of the rabbinical judge Rabbi Yakov Katina. After he became Bar Mitzvah, he left Chust and wandered afar. For a short time, he studied with the Tzadik Rabbi Asher Anshel Jungreis, the author of Menuchat Asher, in Csenger. For a longer time, he studied in the village of Urisor near Dej with the Gaon and Tzadik Rabbi Menachem Mendel Panet the author of Maaglei Tzedek. Then he studied for a short time with Rabbi Menachem A”sh in Ungvar. His prime rabbi was the renowned Gaon Rabbi Yissachar Ber the son of Rabbi Sinai the head of the rabbinical court of Lipto-Saint Miklos, the author of Minchat Ani. Around 5620 (1860) he married the daughter of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Hahn, the prayer leader and trustee of the community of Saint Mikloz. He acquired both Torah and secular knowledge in the house of his father-in-law. On the intermediate days of Sukkot 5627 (1866) Rabbi Moshe Shalmon was selected as the rabbi of the community of Tordashin in the region of Arva (today Slovakia). There, he published all of his works.

Rabbi Moshe Shalmon's works (all in the form of booklets) excelled in breadth, sharpness, and caustic language. They were received negatively by several of the rabbis of Hungary, who publicly accused Shalmon of explaining Torah in an improper fashion and in leaning toward an outlook that deviated from the way of the faithful of Israel. In several of the booklets, the reaction of the author (sometimes in anger) was to change his ideas. We do not know when Rabbi Moshe Shalmon died -- it was apparently close to the First World War. In six years, he published five works,

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and nine years later an additional work, all under the name of “Netiv Moshe”. These were Talmudic and historical research works on the evolution of the Oral Torah:

Netiv Moshe, a research work on the pathways of Torah, and especially on the logical a fortiori rules, with some useful notes. Vienna, 5656 (1896). 31 pages.

Netiv Moshe, a research work on Kabbala and scholarly jurisprudence with some useful notes and responsa… Vienna 5657 (1897). 51 pages.

Netiv Moshe, a research work on the power of scholars with some useful notes… Budapest, 5658 (1898). 48 pages.

Netiv Moshe, a research work on the way of women in faith… Vienna, 5660 / 1899. 28 pages.

Netiv Moshe, a research and moral work on the topic of faith, with some useful notes and some responsa. Vienna 5661 (1901). 40 pages.

Netiv Moshe, history, thoughts, poems, parables, and stories for study. [Vienna ?] 5670 (1910). 30 pages.

In the first poem “The Days of my Youth” (116 verses), with interesting autobiographical details about the author, Rabbi Moshe Shalmon.

 

The Community, Its Institutions and Leaders

The Organization of the Community

The Jewish community of Chust was one of the most organized and consolidated communities not only in Maramures and Carpatho-Rus, but also in the entire northeastern part of historic (“Greater”) Hungary. To our great dismay, we are not able to trace its roots and development over its 200 years of existence – not even through estimation. At this point, we do not have any historical documents or written or printed sources. Its ledgers and archives were lost during the Holocaust. The following words are based primarily on the memories of Holocaust survivors of Chust, who of course describe their city as they saw it between the two world wars. Furthermore, this information was gathered thirty or more years after the Holocaust. It is obvious that these memories will be significantly clouded and blurry. Since we are talking about a large community, which had a population of more than 6,000 Jews at its peak, there is no person, even among those who were involved in communal life, who would be able to describe the entire spectrum of variegated activities. Therefore, we must suffice ourselves with what we have, and with what we have been able to collect under the difficult and incomplete conditions.

The center of the communal activity was in a giant square spread between two parallel roads. In this square was the Great Synagogue, which is believed to have been built in the middle of the 19th century. Next to it was a large, two-story building that contained the residence of the rabbi. On the ground floor, there were stores that were rented for money. The courtyard also included the residences of the shochtim (ritual slaughterers), shamash (beadle), and bath attendant. In the courtyard, there were also the communal offices, including a large meeting hall, and the offices of several communal institutions including the Chevra Kadisha (burial society), and the Bikur Cholim (tending to the sick) society. The Yeshiva building with its Beit Midrash and classrooms was also in this courtyard. At the edge of the courtyard were the mikva (ritual bath), butcher shops, and slaughter house for fowl.

There were several Beit Midrashes scattered throughout the city, including the Sephardic-Hassidic Beit Midrash which was built in the 1860s, the Eitz Chaim Beit Midrash of the Hassidim of Sighet-Satmar, the large Kloiz of the Hassidim of Vishnitz, the Beit Midrash of the Admor Rabbi Yisrael Yakov Leifer, a small Beit Midrash in the residence of the rabbinical judge, the Beit Midrash that was built by the wealthy Reb Shlomo Stern, the Beit Midrash of the wealthy man Reb Moshe Aharon Farkas, and the small Beit Midrash that was called Dos Tzigeiner Beit Midrash [“gypsy Beit Midrash” because it was close to the gypsy neighborhood]. In addition, there were also smaller Beit Midrashes that existed temporarily, such as for the various youth organizations including Agudat Israel Youth, Bnei Akiva, the Zionist meeting places, etc.

The communal leadership consisted of 31 councilors who were elected by everyone who possessed the right to vote. From them, a smaller leadership committee was chosen that had the right to carry out the decisions of the council. This included the head of the community and his deputy, the treasurer, the charity gabbai (trustee), the synagogue gabbai, and others.

The vast majority of the Jews of Chust did not tend toward Hassidism, despite the fact that the city was surrounded by towns that were under complete Hassidic domination. The mentality of the veteran householders, who included sharp scholars, was more similar to the Jews in the cities and towns of central Hungary. The general body of Chust Jewry during the days of Maharam Shik and his predecessors, as well as during the time of his two successors, was very different from that of the nearby communities, including Sighet and Munkacs. The relatively few Hassidim who lived in Chust during that era, that is to say from the middle until the end of the 19th century, were centered around the Hassidic Beit Midrash that was apparently built during the first years after the arrival of Maharam Shik to Chust. As has already been noted, not only did the new rabbi not oppose the formation of this Hassidic community, but to the complete surprise of everyone and delight of the Hassidim, Maharam Shik obligated the community to financially support the building of the Hassidic Beit Midrash. It can be said that the attitude of Maharam Shik to Hassidism was one of neutrality and admiration. It appears that he had not come across Hassidim until his arrival in Chust. The entire interest of Maharam Shik was the dissemination of Torah and the support of the religion in communal as well as private life. The various streams and substreams within this community were not at the center of his interest, as long as they raised their children to the study of Torah in Yeshivas and the home, and they were meticulous about both the easy and hard commandments. The rest did not matter to him one way or another.

Starting from the beginning of the 20th century, the Hassidic foundations of Chust broadened. The Hassidim of Chust were sustained from within, and also externally. The Jews of the villages and the region streamed into the city. During the four decades from the beginning of the 20th century until the beginning of the Holocaust in Chust in 1941, the Jewish population of the city almost tripled from 2,371 Jews in 1900 to 6,032 in 1941. It goes without saying that a significant portion of this increase was not due to natural increase. Almost all of the village Jews who settled in the city were connected to some Hassidic rebbe or another. However, the Hassidic way of life received encouragement also from the city itself, for it was known that the author of Arugat Habosem had shown strong tendencies to Hassidic behavior and the Admorim from his youth, despite his education and upbringing in non-Hassidic upper Hungary. Already when he was a young man, he requested direction and enlightenment in Hassidic and Kabbalistic ways from the author of Yitav Lev. Later, he affiliated definitively with Belz Hassidism. He visited his master at least twice a year. Dozens of the students of his Yeshiva accompanied him on these visits. It would have been impossible for such a situation not to have influence on the local youth, who also studied in his Yeshiva – if not completely or mainly, then at least to a significant degree. Therefore, no small number of the students from Chust from veteran Ashkenazic homes

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turned to Hassidim, either due to internal conviction or external factors such as the importance of the streimel, or other such factors. The Hassidim of Belz had their own Kloiz called Dover Shalom, in which 40-50 householders worshipped.

There were already masses of Hassidim in Chust between the two world wars, even though it was almost certain that they were not yet the majority of the city. The largest faction belonged to the Sighet-Satmar Hassidism. Their Beit Midrash, called “Atzei Chaim” was the second largest after the Great Synagogue. Following it was the large faction of Hassidim of Vishnitz-Kosov, whose main strength came from the village Jews who settled in the city. As has been noted, they also had their own large Kloiz. Smaller groups of Hassidim affiliated with Belz, Spinka, and others, who had the numbers to support their own Kloizes; but given that they were scattered through the entire city, this did not work out, and they worshiped in the synagogues that were closest to their places of residence.

It was natural for there to be a certain tension between the different Hassidim, but the community was run in a communal fashion with complete unity. All of the streams and camps joined together in running the community, despite their different outlooks and even occasional disputes. The historian of Hungarian Jewry, Reb Yekutiel Yehuda Greenwald, a student at the Yeshiva of the author of Arugat Habosem in Chust, who knew the city and its Jews very well, expresses an accurate historical fact when he wrote in his works (Matzevet Kodesh page 45): “In Chust, there were never disputes or strife in the synagogue or Beit Midrash. The rabbis lived in peace, and the people of the city honored them greatly.” In the continuation of his words, he cites the words of his rabbi, the author of Arugat Habosem, in his wonderful testament “Hachana Deraba” (Great Preparation), as follows: “Behold you have earned, with the grace of G-d, praise and renown in the land, where you are a wall and fortress of strength for Israel your forbear, for the Orthodox House of Israel, from the time that the great Gaon Maharam Shik of holy blessed memory came to you with the light of his Torah and righteousness, and the rays of his light spread from here to all places throughout the state as the rule for the Orthodox institutions, through several laws that were established as firmly as nails.” One sharp dispute, albeit short in duration, took place in Chust during the final generation, in the wake of the selection of the final rabbi, as has been described above. This dispute was settled quickly, and the community of Chust returned to its long-standing tradition of peace and calm.

Even the communal institutions were organized and conducted in proper fashion. The oldest and richest communal institution was of course the Chevra Kadisha, which was as old as the community itself. It had almost full autonomy, with its own by-laws. It often helped support the financial needs of the community, whether by means of a loan with easy conditions or an outright grant. Next to it was the Bikur Cholim society, whose aim was as its name – to provide support for the infirm or their family members who were left without a breadwinner. Aside from these, there were several other charitable and assistance institutions, some which existed for a long time, and others that existed temporarily to serve a specific, passing need. One of these splendid institutions was the women's charitable organization, whose aims were quite variegated, based on the needs that were most pressing at that time for the community. The pressing needs were always urgent: providing for poor brides, providing shoes and clothing for the students of the Talmud Torah and the Jewish schools, providing clothing and fuel for the winter season, and similar needs.

Chust had many organizations for the public study of Torah, all of them intended for the worshippers of the synagogues or Beit Midrashes. The Great Synagogue had a very old organization called “Chevra Mishnayos and Cheva Lomdei Shas” (The Mishna and Talmud Study Group). Its dozens of members concluded the study of Mishna and Talmud in set cycles. Similar organizations, some for Mishna alone, others for Talmud alone, and some for both together, existed in all of the Beit Midrashes of the city. Hundreds of householders studied in regular classes in the houses of worship after a hard day of toil, aside from the studying that they did in their own homes during their free time. It is appropriate to note the set class in Gemara, Adjudicators [poskim] and Responsa of Rabbi Zalman Levi, the owner of a hotel and one of the greatest scholars in the city, in the “Agudat Habachurim” Beit Midrash.

From the beginnings of the existence of the community, it of course possessed a mikva (ritual bath), the foundation of the purity of the Jewish home. At first, it was of modest form. As the community became more established, the mikva underwent many renovations. At the beginning of the century, it was practically rebuilt and furnished with improved equipment, such as new baths and showers. The final renovation of the mikva took place in 1928, when a modern division was opened in the mikva. Thus, the mikva also served as a public bathhouse.

The communal servants included the rabbi, rabbinical judge, two shochtim (ritual slaughterers), three overseers of kosher meat, a full time cantor for the great synagogue who was assisted by a choir of young singers, an additional permanent cantor for the Hassidic Beit Midrash, whose prayers were in the style of a traditional prayer leader. There was a communal secretary who was also the registrar of births and deaths (matrikal), as well as shamashim (beadles) for the Great Synagogue and large Beit Midrashes, a bathhouse attendant, and a woman in charge of the women's mikva. All of these received a full or partial salary from the communal budget.

We do not know the names of the various shochtim (ritual slaughterers) who carried out their holy work in Chust. We know of the following shochtim from the 1880s and onward, for we find them mentioned in the books that were published during their time (prenumeration): Reb Binyamin Abba (1887-1890), Reb Moshe Shochet (1890-1909), Reb Avigdor Miller (1899), Reb Yekutiel Zalman the son of Reb Mordechai (1925). The last two shochtim in Chust were Reb Menachem Segal Shreiber and Reb Shalom Eisenstein. The latter was formerly a shochet in Tergiva. Both of them perished in the Holocaust. The secretary of the community was Reb Noach Klein, a scholar and an erudite man.

We do not have detailed information about the heads of the community of Chust in the early days. Today, there is nobody who is able to reconstruct the names, activities and personalities of the communal administrators who labored and toiled for the upkeep of this splendid community, guarding it and protecting it. There is no doubt that these anonymous people were of fine spirit, who were graced with special traits and talents that enabled them to choose spiritual leaders who had the stature of the great leaders of the generation, as we have outlined above. Furthermore, these geonim were able to live in Chust in peace and calm, surrounded by boundless love and reverence, and were able to lead all of Hungarian Jewry from Chust. This latter fact alone proves the worthiness of the heads and administrators of the Chust community. They were the ones that created the necessary atmosphere for the rabbi to conduct his holy work without any disturbances and concerns for livelihood and economic existence.

During the tenure of Maharam Shik, the name of Reb David Kraus was known. He was one of the heads of the community and founders of the Hassidic Beit Midrash, which he headed for many years. His descendants also stood at the head of the community during

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a later period, as will be explained later. During that era, we know of the following communal administrators (parnassim): Reb Leibush and Reb Shmuel Hartstein, Reb Yehuda Kestenbaum, Reb Yisrael Messinger, Reb Nachman Chaim Heimfeld (also Heinfeld), the Kahana family (Reb Mordechai, Reb Yehuda, Reb Shamai and Reb Daniel Kahana). One generation later, we know of Reb Itzik and Reb Yosef Heimfeld, Reb Tzvi Elimelech Farkas, Reb Shalom Farkas, Reb Yechiel Michel Fuks, Reb Avraham Markowitz, Reb Moshe Oestreicher, Reb Yosef Shmeilewitz, and others.

During the 1890s, we know of the children of Reb David Kraus (he himself was still alive and active), Reb Leib and Reb Nissan Kraus, as well as his grandson Reb Zanwil Kraus who was the head of the community prior to the First World War, and had already taken his first steps in communal leadership. The Hartstein family also had descendants who worked in communal affairs, such as Reb Moshe, Reb David, and Reb Yisrael Hartstein, even though Reb Shmuel Hartstein was still alive. The same was the case with the Heimfeld family, to whose chain of activists from the family was added Reb Aharon Heimfeld. Similarly, the Farkas family ascended to communal activism. Aside from the two mentioned above, there were Reb Yosef and Reb Moshe Aharon Farkas, who built with their own money a Beit Midrash that was in existence until the Holocaust.

From the end of the century until the First World War, the descendants of the veteran families continued in the tradition of Jewish communal leadership. These included Reb Yitzchak Kestenbaum, the wide-branched Kahana family (Reb David, Reb Tzvi Hirsch, Reb Shlomo and Reb Menachem Kahana), the young Reb Nachman Chaim Heimfeld (the grandson of the aforementioned man who bears his name), Reb Shamai Hartstein, Reb Yirmia Hartstein and others. However, new foundations came alongside the veteran families in communal leadership, some of whom did not stem from Chust themselves, arriving there by marrying the daughters of the wealthy and honorable people of the city, and through other means.

{Photo page 255: Reb Moshe Rosenfeld, called Reb Moshe Tetsher.)

At the end of the century the star of one of the great activists streaked through Chust, whose fame spread throughout the entire region. This was Reb Moshe Rosenfeld who was nicknamed Reb Moshe Tetsher on account of this native town. He was born around 5630 (1870). In the year 5659 (1899), he was already living in Chust. He was found among the signatories of the Beit Hayotzer Responsa book, Volume II, which was published that year. He was a variegated personality, graced with rare and unique personality traits. When he came of age, he married a girl from the Farkas family of Chust, and apparently settled in Chust at that time. During the first years after his marriage, he was supported at his father-in-law's table, studying Torah and even helping his father-in-law in conducting his business. After a few years, he began to conduct his own business and became wealthy. He was the owner of a wholesale grocery business, and was involved in the importation of coffee, kerosene and colonial fruit in a large scale manner. He was a splendid scholar and an enthusiastic Vishnitz Hasid. He conducted a patriarchal home in strict observance of Vishnitz Hassidism. His home was open wide to anyone who was in need. However, what was said to this point is insufficient to make Reb Moshe Tetsher stand out from hundreds of other Jews of Chust. His uniqueness was his communal activities. Aside from the aforementioned traits, Reb Moshe Tetsher was graced with wisdom, understanding, and great personal charm. He had a well-developed ability to gain friends and supporters from all strata of the population, both Jewish and non-Jewish. He was a friend of all of the high officials, starting from the regional governor, all the way to the smaller officials and government people. All of the government offices were open to him. Already from a young age, a few years prior to the First World War, he was known as an accomplished intercessor who knew the spirit of the rules and modes of behavior of each and every one of them. They generally responded positively to his requests. His activities extended beyond the bounds of the city and his influence was known throughout the entire region. During the First World War, he succeeded in freeing many youths from the army, or at least from being sent to the battlefront. His house was constantly bustling with Jews who were waiting for their freedom due to his intercession. He often became entwined in complex situations with the military authorities on account of these activities. Even after the change of government, Reb Moshe Tetsher quickly found his way to the hearts of the Czech officials, and set for himself a new realm of activity in caring for the Jews that required his services. Reb Moshe Tetsher was the head of the community of Chust until the end of the 1920s. His business was affected by the economic depression of 1931, and his economic status weakened significantly, but the reverence for him by the Jews of Chust was not reduced due to this. An additional character trait of his was his joviality, sense of humor, and enjoyment of jokes. Despite the fact that he was honored by people as a well-known wealthy individual, he never hesitated to act as a jester in order to bring joy to a bride and groom. He would also take the task of “Purim Rabbi” upon himself, and many people enjoyed his sharp flashes. He fulfilled this role as well in the court of the Vishnitz Rebbe when he was there during Purim. Reb Moshe Rosenfeld-Tetsher died on 1 Cheshvan 5701 (1940). All seven of his sons, who continued on his path in Torah and Hassidism, lived in Chust, as did his son-in-law Reb Yehoshua Fish, a noted scholar who also occupied himself with Kabbala. Reb Moshe's son, Reb Yitzikl Rosenfeld, was the gabbai of the Chevra Kadisha, an energetic communal activist, and one of the founders and heads of Agudat Israel.

During the 1930s, Reb Binyamin and Reb Mordechai Davidowich stood at the helm of the community. Reb Binyamin Davidowich owned a brick kiln in Chust, and was known as a sublime personality throughout the region. The government appointed him as an advisor on Carpatho-Rus (Carpathian Ruthenian) affairs in the Ministry of the Interior. He died on 11 Tevet, 5700 (1940). We will mention a few of the descriptions that are engraved on his gravestone, that testify to his personality:

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“A man of life, and many activities… The renowned scholar, sublime above people, unique in his double dose of spirit in Torah and fear of Heaven, a very lofty man… The leader of the community and unique head of state, in the deep spirit of a leader in wisdom, and at the helm of the ship, fearing Heaven and loving Torah… He would provide bountiful gifts for the poor… And salvation and redemption for many Jews.”

His son Reb Mordechai Davidowich studied in the Yeshiva of Pressburg under the Gaon Rabbi Y. Tz. Dushinsky. He headed the community during his father's lifetime. Through his efforts, the “Beit Yakov” girls' school was founded. He was also active in the realm of civic, public education. Aside from the brick kiln that was established by Reb Binyamin, Reb Mordechai Davidowich also erected a large sawmill in nearby Upper Bistra, where he used to give employment preference to Jewish youth who were preparing themselves with manual labor for aliya to the Land of Israel. There was a large library in his house, consisting of thousands of books, including holy books as well as modern Hebrew literature and Yiddish books. He made efforts to speak Hebrew (with the Sephardic accent) with his children. During the Holocaust, he wandered to several work camps. He died in the Kaufring Camp on 9 Kislev, 5705 (1944). He had the merit to have a Jewish burial in the camp, since there were Jews of Chust present who tended to him and buried him in a separate grave. In the year 5620 (1960) his children brought his bones to Israel and buried them in Har Hamenuchot in Jerusalem.

Apparently, the final head of the community was Reb Yekutiel Yehuda Hollander (mentioned in this article among the signatories of the Responsa book Kav Chaim, Leinowardein, 5703 / 1943).

 

Education

Chust Jewry, as a community and as individuals, made sure to educate their children in Torah and the ways of the world. The Jews of Chust reached the pinnacle of this Jewish obligation through the Great Yeshiva in which many thousands of students had studied Torah during its decades of existence. There is no doubt that the Yeshiva of Chust had great influence on the spiritual life of the Jews of the city, despite the fact that the vast majority of the students of the Yeshiva were not residents of Chust, but rather had come to the Yeshiva of Chust from near and far, from within the kingdom and from outside, in order to fulfill the traditional custom of “exile yourself to a place of Torah”. In this spirit of the sages, many of the youths of Chust, and perhaps even the majority, preferred to leave the Great Yeshiva of Chust and travel to a different place of Torah, even if it were lesser known. Nevertheless, at all times there was a certain percentage of local students in the Yeshiva. The Yeshiva also had influence though the Yeshiva students who had contact with the householders with whom they partook their meals on a daily rotation. On Sabbaths in particular, words of Torah and novel ideas from the Beit Midrash of the Yeshiva were heard from the Yeshiva students. Householders who had studied at the Yeshiva, and there were many such people in Chust, would exchange Torah commentaries and didactics with the youth who was with them for the Sabbath. Not infrequently, they would marry off their brothers or daughters to them. Thus, a wellspring of influence was formed between the Yeshiva and its students, and the Jews of Chust. In any case, the Yeshiva contributed a great deal toward the Torah atmosphere in Chust. On the other side, the Yeshiva students spread the good words of the place and its residents throughout the land when they returned to their parents' homes and hometowns.

In a few sentences, we will point out several typical themes of the mode of study in the Yeshivas of Chust, starting with the Yeshiva of Maharam Shik, and moving onward. Immediately after the services, when he was still wearing his Tallit and Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin[9], Maharam Shik taught the Code of Jewish Law in order, with the exception of the time period near the holidays, when he would teach the laws of the specific holiday. For three days a week, he taught an in-depth class on the tractate, and he did not jump from topic to topic. This class was delivered while standing, and with a festive ambiance and great enthusiasm, as he was wearing his Sabbath attire. Prior to the class, he would teach for about ½ hour from one of the morality books, primarily Chovot Halevavot[10]. Twice a week, he would deliver a lesser class with only a few commentators. Once a week, he would teach the Tur and Code of Jewish Law, Yoreh Deah section. On Friday nights, he would deliver a class on the weekly Torah portion with the commentaries of Rashi and Nachmanides, along with his own novel ideas, and those of his rabbi, the author of the Chatam Sofer. According to Maharam Shik, a rabbi is not only a hose that merely transfers words of Torah, but also primarily a man from whom the student must learn manners of conduct in life. The student must ask the rabbi everything that is difficult for him in all areas of life. Maharam Shik did not refuse the study of “a bit of other wisdom” for a veteran student who had filled himself up with Talmud and halacha, and for whom the true faith has been etched on his heart as an immovable peg. However, this must be done discretely, and of course not at the expense of the Torah lessons.

{Photo page 256: The gravestone of Rabbi Mordechai Davidowich.}

Rabbi Amram Blum would deliver his classes as he walked around his desk, an activity that allowed him to collect himself. With every circuit, a new bright thought would light up in his mind. “When they asked him any difficult question, he would walk around his desk, and think of a new answer with each circuit. Once he would use the words of Tosafot,

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the second time, the words of some ancient commentator, the third time he would state that there is no question in the first place, the fourth time would be dedicated to sharpness, and the fifth time he would add some straightforward explanation, and so on without end…” He did not prepare his classes. He had a pedagogic aim with this, for he wanted to demonstrate a methodology of learning to his students, showing them how they could weary themselves by delving deeply into Torah, and how to delve deeply into the understanding of the words of Gemara. In this manner, he included his students in the act of crystallization of his ideas during the time of study. Rabbi Amram Blum rejected the study of any secular subjects. “The Torah of G-d is pure, as clear as the sun, without intermixing any wisdom from any external subject area.” This was stated in connection to his objection to the rabbinical seminary, and we can assume that this was his general outlook.

The author of Arugat Habosem, in whose Yeshiva 400 students studied, regarded the dissemination of Torah to students as the primary task of a rabbi. In his will he commanded his sons as follows: “Any of you who G-d assists in coming to the divisions of Reuben… to occupy a rabbinic seat, I order him to strengthen the Yeshiva, and you are not free to desist from this… This goes even for someone who is in a small city with few people… To set up a place, where one can have a great deal of Yeshiva study… and attempt to supervise matters so that the students will be proper, and diligent with Torah and Divine service, and they will have no occupation with external books. Heaven forbid, they should not be among those who cut their peot or shave their beards… They should teach the classes in exacting order, so that the study should not be from haphazard Talmudic discussions, as if one is skipping over the mountains… as is the custom in several Yeshivas of our country. I was attracted to them several times, but the experience made me wise, for this does not lead to the desired goal.”

The Yeshiva of Rabbi Yosef Zvi Dushinsky excelled in the stringent protocols that were conducted there. He personally supervised each lad. Each student had to set a place of prayer for himself, and during the classes, everyone was to sit in their set seat. This was so that the rabbi could find each student. As the class was being delivered, all of the rows were completely silent, with nobody entering or leaving. Sometimes, the doors were locked at the beginning of the class. Rabbi Dushinsky was also particular about the external appearance of each student. He concerned himself that the Yeshiva students should arouse feelings of respect in all their mannerisms. “Even when the lad is walking through the markets of the city, it should be evident that he is a Yeshiva student who studies Torah.” He would preach to his students at every opportunity that they should conduct themselves with respect and politeness toward every person. He concerned himself with the economic existence of the students, and he asked the householders to help him with the maintenance of the Yeshiva. He also asked them and their wives to treat the lads who come late for their meals with patience, for the tardiness is due to a class that went overtime. He preferred to accept to the Yeshiva younger students who had just finished heder, working on the assumption that it would be possible to educate them in accordance with his spirit and to forge their form as clay in the hands of the craftsman. He was particular that the students not change from the custom of their fathers and their places, and not change their mode of clothing that they used to wear in the home of their parents.

Unlike most of the Yeshivas of Hungary, the students also studied Bible in Rabbi Dushinsky's Yeshiva. Before the in-depth class, they would study Chumash with the commentaries of Rashi and Nachmanides, and before the regular class, they would study Bible with the commentaries of Rashi and Radak. He had a special fondness for the Book of Psalms, which he concluded with his Yeshiva students several times. (Apparently, this study gave rise to his commentary on Psalms.) Despite the fact that Rabbi Dushinsky conducted himself in the manner of “treat harshly [lit. 'cast gall upon'] the students”, he barely discussed with them anything that did not relate to the study material itself and only rarely did he smile at his students – his students loved him deeply, since they felt that a pedagogue imbued with great love for his students was hidden beneath the veneer of strictness. In his answers to the students' queries, he loosened the bonds of superficial “strictness” and wrote to them in a heartfelt manner, using the formula: “My beloved student who is dear to my soul,” etc. He would tell those close to him that all of his pains and difficulties would disappear when he would begin to deliver his classes to the Yeshiva students. Every day before the in-depth class, he would also teach a chapter of moral teachings from Chovot Halevavot, Sefer Charedim, or Mesilat Yesharim.

Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky was born in the year 5627 (1867). Rabbi Yisrael's father was the sister of the Maharam Shik. He was named Yosef Tzvi after his grandfather the Gaon Rabbi Yosef Shik (the father of the Maharam Shik), and his father-in-law's in-law the Gaon Rabbi Tzvi Konitz.

In the year 5638 (1878), his elder brother Reb Matityahu came to study in the Yeshiva of Maharam Shik, where their father Rabbi Yosef had studied in his youth. Maharam Shik asked about the well-being of his younger brother Yosef Tzvi. Reb Matityahu told him that he was planning on coming to the Yeshiva in Chust a year after his Bar Mitzvah. Maharam Shik said “He will yet come here,” and repeated this sentence twice. This was a half a year before the passing of Maharam Shik. After time passed, the Gaon Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky mentioned the aforementioned words of the Gaon during his first sermon in the city of Chust – that with his innuendo that “he will yet come here,” he was prophesying that he would eventually serve in the rabbinate of that city. He was known already at a young age among the recognized Torah greats of that generation, as well as among the Hassidic greats. Despite the fact that he had been raised and educated in the Ashkenazic spirit, he had a soulful connection to Hassidism. During his youth, he spent some time in Sieniawa with the Tzadik Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam, who advised him and encouraged him to accept the rabbinate in Galanta, after he hesitated on account of the dispute that had taken place there. With the passage of time, before he was chosen for the city of Chust, they offered him the rabbinate of a large and famous city. He sighed and responded, “Woe on us for those who have passed, for I do not have anyone to ask for advice as I did before I came to Galanta, for then I asked the holy Tzadik of Sieniawa, the light and brightness of that generation.” There was a special love between him and the Tzadik Rabbi Yisrael of Vishnitz. They hugged and kissed at every meeting.

From the day he began standing on his own, he regarded the dissemination of Torah as his central task. Through the 60 years that he conducted the Yeshiva, not a day passed when he did not give several classes. Despite his very serious attitude toward communal needs, he did not give up his learning even for one day. He led his community in accordance with the method of Chatam Sofer, and fulfilled this in a complete fashion. From there stemmed his relationship and love for the Land of Israel. On one occasion, he said that his soul desired to settle in the Land of Israel already from the time of his youth, without any expectation of rabbinical office, however his mother prevented this.

During his visit to the Land in the year 5692 (1932), he paid a visit to the ill Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, the rabbi of the Orthodox community of the Land of Israel, two days before his passing. As he left, the aforementioned Gaon hinted to his relatives that he would like the rabbi of Chust to fill his position. Indeed, a few months later, Rabbi Moshe Blau, the head of Agudat Yisrael and the Edah Charedit of Jerusalem came to Chust and invited Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky to serve in splendor as the rabbi of Orthodox Jewry in the Land of Israel. This invitation gave him great trouble, which he expressed in several meetings with the heads of the community when they came to beg him not to leave

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the city. However, his love of the Land of Israel prevailed over his love of the community and its people, and in the month of Elul 5693 (1932) he made aliya to Jerusalem, with several dozen of his students. Thousands gathered around to accompany him, and throngs came to honor him at every railway station along the route.

On the Sabbath prior to his departure, he parted from his community in the Great Synagogue. After delivering a sermon for several long hours, he concluded with emotion, “I did not want to tell this, but I must.” (He repeated this sentence several times.) “This was not a dream.” (He also repeated this sentence several times.) “I was half asleep and half awake. The door opened, and my father of blessed memory along with three very old men entered. My father introduced them to me: Maharam Shik, Rabbi Yosel Tzvi Roth the author of Beit Hayotzer, and Rabbi Moshe the son of Amram the author of Arugat Habosem. The three of them were my predecessors in the rabbinate of the city. Each one turned to his friend and said, “You tell.” Finally Maharam Shik began and said, ‘we have come down from above to thank you and to extend our good wishes for the way in which you conducted the city in the ways of Torah, fear of Heaven, and the way you disseminated Torah.'” The emotion in the synagogue was great. The parting was difficult both for him and for the members of the community.

The Yeshiva of Rabbi Yehoshua Greenwald was based on the principle of “a strict person should not teach.” He took interested in each of his students with a pleasant demeanor and light face, love and warmth. He even took interest in personal issues of the student, and advised them and guided them in seeking marriage partners. If a youth got confused during an exam, he would take him aside, encourage him and calm him with soft words so that his spirit would not fall. His classes were noted for their simplicity and clarity. There was almost no need for a “chazer bocher” (a lad who repeats over the class) who would repeat the rabbi's class for the younger students. Every Sunday, Rabbi Yehoshua Greenwald taught an in-depth class on some Talmudic discussion with the commentators. On the other days of the week, he taught a simple class in the order of the tractate that was being studied at that time. This Yeshiva, which superseded the Yeshiva of Chust, was in its essence a Hassidic Yeshiva. Most of the youths immersed themselves in the mikva daily, wore gartels during prayers, etc.

{Photo page 258: Uncaptioned. The Union of Yeshiva Youths of Chust.}

From the Yeshiva of Chust, which was in its essence a national institution for the dissemination of Torah and fear of Heaven, let us turn to the elementary education of the Jewish children of Chust. Most of the Jewish students studied in the Talmud Torah, which was under the supervision of the community and under its partial funding. They began with the study of the aleph beit, and went all the way to the study of Gemara and Tosafot at the level of an elementary Yeshiva. Hundreds of students studied Torah with the teachers in the two buildings on Dubnowich Street. The communal supervision was double. First of all, they supervised the teachers themselves. Every new teacher who presented his candidacy had to pass a short test with the rabbi, who evaluated the qualifications of the candidate and determined to which learning group he would belong. The students were examined every week by scholarly householders who were active in the Talmud Torah group. Tuition fees were graduated. The majority of the parents, who were of sufficient means, paid full fees. Some of these parents were wealthy, and paid the tuition fees on behalf of the poor parents, who were freed from tuition fees, or paid a minimal, symbolic fee. Aside from the Talmud Torah, there were non-organized smaller cheders scattered throughout the city. They conducted their classes in various Beit Midrashes as well as in private homes. The study of Torah of the Jewish children of Chust was as old as the community itself, and even preceded it, for, as is the custom of Jews at all times and in every country of the Diaspora, the parents concerned themselves with the education of their children in Torah, and dedicated their souls to this end.

In 1923, a group of parents with a Zionist outlook organized themselves in order to establish a school that would have Hebrew as the language of instruction. A teacher was brought in from Ungvar (Uzhgorod). Approximately 40 students studied in this school. Of course, this school aroused the wrath of the Orthodox and the Hassidic circles from all streams, particularly due to the fact that the Hebrew teacher did not observer the Torah commandments. After about two years, the school disbanded due to a lack of students. In the meantime, the Zionist foundations grew in the city, and in 1929, they attempted to reestablish the Hebrew school, this time on firmer foundations. The teachers were Rabbi Freilich and Dr. Farkas, who were religious Jews. The school maintained itself through tuition fees, government support, as well as the education fund (“Shul fund”) of Munkacs. It was recognized by the education authorities as an elementary school, and its diplomas were recognized. Later, the school turned into a “citizens” school (Polgári), at a senior elementary level, where the language of instruction was Czech (later Hungarian). Jewish and religious subjects were taught in Hebrew. The school operated in its own structure, the same as all the Zionist activities in the city (see later for information on the founders of the school).

In 1934, the Agudat Israel circles founded a “Beit Yakov” orthodox school for girls, under the leadership of the teacher and educator Flora Silberman, a graduate of the Beit Yakov Teachers' Seminary. The number of students oscillated incessantly. It had 80 students at its peak. This school did not earn official recognition, for it did not follow the government curriculum. All of the studies took place after the school hours of the Czech school that the girls attended. The Beit Yakov School also taught Hebrew as a language, although the language of instruction was Yiddish, which was used for laws, Jewish history in accordance with the Bible, the geography of the Land of Israel, and Jewish thought.

 

Economic and Social Life

The social and economic composition of the Jews of Chust is unknown. Today, there is nobody who can recreate the Jewish economic state of Chust in the inter-war period, and even more so of the preceding eras. However, this unfortunate fact

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does not exempt us from attempting to give over to future generations at least the very basic information we have succeeded in collecting from the memories of the survivors. Through the most general estimation, it seems that the Jewish livelihood earners in Chust, who numbered approximately 1,500, were divided up as follows: 60-70% were of middle income, who earned their livelihood in an honorable and more or less sufficient fashion. This was the middle class, ranging from the upper middle class and going down to the lower middle class, bordering on poverty. Above them was a small stratum of 8-10% of wealthy Jews who owned property. A few of them had very large incomes, and were of a very strong economic situation. Approximately 20% of the families were poor, without property, without a set income, and without a firmly based economic situation. Some of them lived on the verge of hunger, and had to be sustained by charity, requiring communal support in its various forms.

The city of Chust was situated in a very comfortable geographic location from an economic perspective. Had this strip of land developed similar to the rest of the regions of the country, there is no doubt that Chust would have become one of the most flourishing cities and a commercial and manufacturing center. A very important railway junction was located near the city: From the south came the railway line from the large Transylvanian cities: Arad - Groswardein - Satmar - Chust. From the west, the city was connected by railway to several Hungarian cities. It was connected to the city of Ujheli, and from there to the cities of Csép- Szelis - Chust. Along its way to Sighet in the southeast, this line branched off near Platfina and turned northward to Rachow and Jasin on its route to Galicia. From Sighet, the line continued on to Bukovina. Similar to the railway and parallel to it for many kilometers, the old highway crossed the narrow Tisza Valley -- the most green and fruitful area of Maramures that covers the entire length from Chust to the entrance to Sighet. Wide orchards of fruit trees and grassy meadows covered this area. Sufficiently comfortable secondary roads spread out toward the north and south from this main, paved highway, reaching almost the entire settled area of Maramures. In addition, Chust was located along the water route of the Tisza River that widened there, after many streams and rivers flowing down from the Carpathian Mountains merged into it. This trio of means of communication would have blown a breath of life into the somnolent economic life of Maramures were it not for the fact that they went in one direction only – from Maramures toward the outside, because at first the Hungarian government neglected the region of Maramures since it was settled by two nationalities that they did not like: the Ruthenians and Romanians. It goes without saying that the third minority, the Jews, were also not at the top of the interest of the Hungarians. As the Hungarians began to develop Hungarian manufacturing on a large scale during the 1880s, this region was left in its state of poverty and neglect. The Maramures region gave a great deal to this massive enterprise. Entire forests were cut down, and massive quantities of building materials streamed flowed from Maramures to Hungary in an unending stream through all the three modes of transportation – railway, dirt roads, and along the Tisza River. However, it received nothing in return. The Czech regime only changed this situation slightly. The city of Chust was indeed a spacious district center (more precisely a half district center), but it was populated by a poor and meager population whose needs were minimal. Commerce, manufacturing and the financial economy of Chust was almost fully in the hands of Jews. Naturally, this was a quite modest situation relative to the great potential that existed among the 105 settlements in the district of Czech Maramures.

The large wholesale businesses in Chust that provided the administrative roles for the entire region were in the hands of the following Jews: The enterprise for mixed merchandise was in the hands of the partners Yakov Kahana and Nachman Heimfeld. It was founded in 1865. This was a large general store along with warehouses that provided groceries, kerosene, haberdashery, agricultural implements, other work implements, and other goods. Similarly, there was the store of Reb Moshe Moskowitch (Nankewer), one of the heads of the Hassidic Beit Midrash. Of course, there were dozens of Jewish owned stores in Chust, for groceries, textiles, haberdashery, clothing, shoes, etc. There were also inns and taverns. After the First World War, two large stores in the hands of the Czech cooperative were opened with government support, which competed with the Jewish businesses. Jews were also very active in other branches of commerce. Most prominent was the lumber business in all forms – firewood, building materials, and railway ties – which were almost all in the hands of Jews. This was also the situation with wheat, fruit, cattle, sheep, and dairy products.

The manufacturing enterprises in Jewish hands included, among others, a brick kiln that was founded by Reb Binyamin Davidowich in 1903, which employed approximately 100 employees, including Jews. After the First World War, Mordechai Gross and Moshe Heimfeld established an electricity station that provided power for light and manufacturing. A stone quarry for building was established by Hollander. There were two large furniture business in Chust -- that of Marci Kahan and of Dinkels. Later they united. Most of the 50 employees were Jews. Nine Jewish cooperatives also set up a cooperative enterprise for furniture, which also employed 40 - 50 people. There was a large sawmill owned by Shmuel Yitzchak Heimowich, one of the heads of the community. The Heimfeld and Markowich families owned steam powered flour mills and gristmills. The Jews also owned factories for hats and tallises, oil refineries, and other such things.

Owners of real estate such as plots of land and large areas of forest included the Kraus brothers, Shmuel Lazarowich, Hirsch Farkas and others. Owners of plantations (especially potatoes) included Engelman, the Salamon brothers, the Hartstein family, and others.

Most of the tradesmen in Chust were Jews who worked in all branches of trade and small-scale manufacturing that were needed by the Jewish and gentile population. Most of the carriage drivers who transported people to their desired destinations, as well as the wagon drivers who transported merchandise to the villages, were Jews. Dozens of families were also involved in small-scale farming or worked as day laborers at any job that came their way.

From a social perspective, most of the Jews of Chust were in a closed community. Contact with gentiles was restricted to commerce and work. There were always several Jewish representatives on the city council. One of them was generally the head of the community at the time. Some of the senior administrators were Jews, and several Jews worked in the regional administrative offices, both in the Austro-Hungarian period as well as the Czech period. Wolbowich was among the veteran officials in the regional financial administration. He was the director of the district Sick Fund during the Czech period. In the last years before the breakup of the republic, Dr. Yisrael Aizikowich (today Artzi) worked in the district financial administration.

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There was a small stratum of Jewish intelligentsia in Chust. The veterans of them were trained in Hungarian culture, language and literature. The younger ones obtained their education in the Czech educational institutions of Prague, Brno, and other places. Most of the free professionals in Chust were Jews, such as the lawyers Dr. Moshe Bulgar, Dr. Miller, Dr. Hegedüs, Dr. Yisrael Aizikowich (Artzi), Dr. Hartman, Dr. Tichtenberg, Dr. Elias, and Dr. Rosenthal; and the physicians Dr. Wasserman, Dr. Salamon, Dr. Weiss and Dr. Josowich. Almost all of them were active in Jewish communal life, and most of them had a strong Zionist and national consciousness, as will be mentioned in the next chapter.

 

The Jewish and Nationalist Youth Movements

Zionist activity in Chust was organized and encompassed large segments of the youth. Valuable moral support for Zionist aspirations was given through the personage of Dr. Birenstein, a known personality throughout the entire country as a judge in the national Supreme Court. He was a very active Zionist, and conducted comprehensive publicity efforts primarily during the times of parliamentary elections, where he called for support of the candidates of the Jewish Party in which the Zionist had decisive influence. Dr. Birenstein would often visit Chust and the villages of Maramures in order to forge a vital contact with the masses of Jews whose Jewish consciousness flowed naturally from their observance of Torah.

The lawyer Dr. Moshe Bulgar was prominent among the local Zionists. He was a veteran Zionist from the time of his studies in the University of Budapest. Dr. Bulgar was born in 1881 in a small village in the district of Ugutsha that borders on Maramures. He studied for a few years in the Yeshiva of Chust during the time of the author of the Arugat Habosem. There he met the well-known poet Joseph Patai, who was already a clandestine Zionist. They became friends, and studied “external wisdom”[11] together secretly. They left the Yeshiva together and entered the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest, but they did not find peace there either. They left the seminary and registered for university. Dr. Bulgar graduated from the Faculty of Law and was certified as a lawyer. He was active in the Zionist movement. He wrote articles and poems in Hebrew and Hungarian, and he edited the Zionist weekly Zsidó Szemle for some time. He settled in Chust in 1923 and earned his livelihood as a lawyer. Among his Hebrew poems was one called “Study My Son, Study,” based on the life of a Yeshiva student. Reb Yekutiel Yehuda Greenwald, Bulgar's friend from the time they studied together at the Yeshiva of Chust, published in his book “Matzevet Kodesh” a photocopy of Bulgar's Hebrew letter from 1939, in which he asked Greenwald to help him immigrate to the United States. Among other things, the letter states, “Here I am standing at the crossroads. I want to, and am forced to leave this land, and my eyes are gazing at two countries: the Land of Israel and America. Of course, if I was on my own, if I had not been blessed and was not responsible for a lovely family, it would have been easy for me to travel to Palestine and settle there, where my heart pulls me. However, under the present circumstances, I am not sure if I can actualize the old dream that I have been dreaming for these 40 years: to make aliya to Zion and find rest and work there… I recall the grace of our youth. Help me in accordance with your ability to travel to America… and to find there some salvation and some sort of livelihood…”

Wolf Farkas and Oskar Rotenbach were among the first to disseminate Zionism in Chust. The latter, who came to Chust from the village of Toren, directed the JOINT[12] Bank. He made aliya to the Land of Israel in 1931, and passed away there in 1975. As had been stated, among the first activities of the Zionists in Chust was to found the Hebrew School, and to renew it after it disbanded. Dr. Wasserman, a refined and respected physician who became wealthy through his profession, assisted them in this matter. He donated a large sum (approximately half of the needed funds) to set up a special building that would house the school and in which the offices of all of the Zionist youth movements would operate. This building also had a meeting hall and a small library.

The first Zionist group in Chust was organized by the Mizrachi a short time after the First World War. Halpert was instrumental in this. Later, it was headed by Yitzchak Freilich and others. Apparently, this was the most firmly based of the groups. Most of its members were former Yeshiva students who were taken with the Zionist idea. They had a provisional house of worship at their headquarters, where they worshipped on Sabbaths and festivals. All donations and pledges were transferred to the Zionist funds.

A Beitar chapter was founded in Chust in 1930. Its first leader was Dr. Yisrael Aizikowich (Artzi). Prior to this, he headed the “Hashomer Kadima” non-factional scouting organization. As the founder of the group had participated with the members of the group in a celebration of the Beitar chapter in Munkacs, and even participated in Beitar parades, the neutrality of the group was compromised, and they decided to remove him from the ranks of “Hashomer Kadima”. As a result, the entire group moved to Beitar, and thereby one of the more active Beitar chapters in Carpatho-Rus was formed. Regional meetings took place in Chust, and members of the local chapter participated in activities of national scope. They sent their members to courses, Hachshara (training), and other such activities. Following Aizikowich, commanders of the Beitar chapter in Chust included Moshe Farber, Wolf Eisler, Steinfeld, Yakov Berner, and Ludwig Frumer. The Beitar chapter had about 80-100 members.

A Shomer Hatzair group was organized at the end of the 1920s, but only became active in a practical fashion in 1931. It also had 80-100 members. After a year, the group divided up, with those who left founding a Hechalutz chapter in Chust. The founders of HaShomer Hatzair included Shlomo Klein (who was later elected to represent the leftist circles and Communists on the city council), Yakov Wasserman, the Roth brothers, and others. Yitzchak Mordechai Roth headed the Hechalutz organization.

In 1930, the Mizrachi organization underwent reorganization, and a Young Mizrachi group was founded by Yehuda Deutsch who came from Terniva. The founders included Avraham Goldstein (Giladi), Moshe Hoffman, Dov Klein, Yosef Josowich (who later founded a similar group in Horintsh), and others. With the passage of time, this group numbered approximately 200 members. They had their own headquarters in the home of Daniel Glick, one of the communal leaders.

Dozens of the Zionist youth went to Hachshara in Slovakia, where they worked on farms and in factories in order to learn advanced agricultural techniques and get accustomed to manual labor. Some of them made aliya to the Land of Israel, either through legal means, or through the underground immigration (Haapala). Bondi Gross, who made aliya in 1932, was among the first chalutzim (pioneers). Following him, additional chalutzim made aliya including the Roth brothers, Moshe Farber, Aharon Liberman, Rose, and many others.

The Orthodox Agudat Israel organization had broad communal support in Chust

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among the Hassidim of Vishnitz, the Ashkenazic circles, and the Yeshiva graduates. The activities of Agudat Israel took place in the Beit Midrashes, through the organization of Torah classes and campaigning for the local and national parliamentary elections. Reb Moshe Tetsher and his sons were among the activists and leaders in this organization. As has been mentioned earlier, one of the most prominent activities was the founding of a Beit Yakov School for girls. The most active facet of this organization was in its youth group, Tzeirei Agudat Israel. One of the most serious activists was Shmuel Rosenfeld, a talented youth and fiery orator. He participated in the major conventions as well as national and district meetings. He wrote articles for the “Darkeinu” newspaper of the movement. His outlook was supportive of the Land of Israel and its upbuilding as a center of activity. His articles were also imbued with this spirit.

{Photo page 261: Uncaptioned. Tzeirei Agudat Israel in Chust.}

From the time of the major Agudat Israel convention in Vienna in 5683 (1923), in which several natives of the town participated, primarily students of the Yeshiva of Pressburg, the Aguda ideas became prevalent among important people of the city. It became prevalent among the masses with the arrival of Rabbi Moshe Blau to the city in the year 5692 (1932) to invite Rabbi Y. Tz. Dushinsky to be the rabbi of the Eida Hachareidit in Jerusalem. Rabbi Blau was the leader of Agudat Israel in the Land of Israel, and one of the leaders of the Eida Hachareidit. His appearance at mass meetings captured the Orthodox youth toward the Aguda idea with a storm. The Orthodox youth formed the majority of the Jewish youth of the city, both in numbers and quality. With his initiative and influence, a Young Agudat Israel organization was immediately founded in the city. After some time, it encompassed hundreds of young people and was involved in various organizational and spiritual activities, such as the study of the daily page of Gemara (Daf Yomi), the founding of the Beit Yakov school, and the collection of money for the Torah fund and the Fund for the Settlement in the Land. The movement quickly spread out through the entire region, and to other cities in Maramures and Carpatho-Rus. A connection was forged between the local chapter and the central headquarters in Pressburg. After a few months, the first convention of Young Agudat Israel in the country took place with mass participation from all over the country. Youths with leadership abilities, and speaking and writing talents became known, and were placed at the helm of the chapter and organization. The most prominent of them were Yeshayahu Weiss as chairman, Reuven Braun, Avraham Lieberman, Uri Segal, Moshe Chaim Kahana, Shmuel Rosenfeld, and the young writer and poet Yehuda Romibash, who was studying at the Yeshiva of Chust at that time. His poems and articles enthused the youth to the Aguda idea.

The love and longing for the Land of Israel was very great, and the theme of the Land of Israel was very prominent at the convention. One of the results of the convention was that, several months later, an agricultural hachshara for chalutzim was set up in Slovakia, and three members of Young Agudat Israel from Chust – Yosef Chaim Moskowitz, Meir Hoffman, and Dov Itzkowitz – were among the first chalutzim of Young Agudat Israel, who made aliya to the Land with certificates that were designated for Agudat Israel. At that time, Rabbi Y. Tz. Dushinsky made aliya to the Land. The Yeshiva students who accompanied him included some who were members of Young Agudat Israel in Chust, including Menachem Hershkowitz, Shmuel David Klein, Aharon Rosenthal, Dov Moskowitz, and others.

In the wake of the youths, a chapter of Agudat Israel for the householders was also set up. Its members included the head of the community Reb Binyamin Davidowitz, Reb Moshe Rosenfeld, Reb Moshe Moskowitz, Reb Matityahu Widerman, and others. Many of the Vishnitz Hassidim, headed by Reb Alter Segal, Reb Yosef Meir Lebowitz, the sons of Reb Moshe Rosenfeld including Reb Yankel who was active in communal affairs and was one of the heads of the Chevra Kadisha were also members. The members of Young Agudat Israel also concerned themselves with organizing a chapter of Poale Agudat Israel for workers and their apprentices, as well as Pirche Agudat Israel, which encompassed most of the children of the Talmud Torah of the city.

 

The Holocaust

The Holocaust of the Jews of Chust, just as the Holocaust of the Jews of all of Carpatho-Rus, can be divided in two primary parts: 1) From the conquest of Czech Maramures by the Hungarian Army on March 15, 1939, until the conquest of all of Hungary by the German army on March 19, 1944. In the center of these five years stands the great tragedy of the exile to Poland in the summer of 1941, and in its wake, the mass murder of the deportees near Kamenetz Podolsk and other areas. The vast majority of the victims were Jews of Carpatho-Rus, part of which was Maramures. 2) The spring and summer months of 1944, from the German conquest, to the establishment of ghettoes, the deportation of the Jews to Auschwitz, and the final liquidation of Chust Jewry. After the description of these two eras, we will present a bit of information about the lives of the Holocaust survivors in Chust after the Second World War under Soviet rule,

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for the Soviet Union annexed Carpatho-Rus to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine.

The process of the breakup of Czechoslovakia was conducted in a secret way. At the beginning of October 1939, the Sudeten region was annexed to Nazi Germany. The “Vienna Arbitration” from November 2, 1939, transferred sections of northeastern Slovakia, including the city of Kosice, to Hungary. At this arbitration, the transfer of the western area of the Carpatho-Rus, including the cities of Ungvar and Munkacs was decided upon. In accordance with the new laws of the dismembered Czechoslovak Republic that was enforced on November 22, 1939, eastern Carpatho-Rus, i.e. Maramures that is the topic of this book, received broad autonomy within the context of the republic that existed on paper only. Thus, Chust became the “capital” of the autonomous region and a “Ukrainian parliament” was set up there.

Apparently, the Ukrainian-Ruthenian nation actualized a portion of its nationalist dream that had existed for some time since after the First World War, and which it was prevented from actualizing between the two world wars by the central government of Prague. However, its joy was momentary. Not even five months passed until Hungary forcibly took control of Czech Maramures on March 15, 1939 and within a brief time suppressed the Ruthenian powers that were headed by the nationalist Ukrainians who were called “Siczes” – most of them refugees who had escaped from the Soviet regime while it existed. The Siczes were under Nazi influence and they threatened to slaughter all of the Jews of Maramures. During the brief period of their rule, they were busy preparing “blacklists” of Jews who would be taken out to be killed and extorted for money. It is therefore very easy to understand the sense of relief with which the Jews greeted the Hungarian conquerors, hoping that the nightmare of the dilettante regime that caused economic and political chaos would be removed from them.

The new reality came quickly with its full cruelty, slapping the face of the Jews of Chust and the region. Already during the first month of the government, the Hungarians fired all of the Jewish communal officials and replaced them with Hungarian officials, for the most part brought in from Hungary. They were virtually all imbued with traditional anti-Semitism, and conducted themselves in the style of “a slave who becomes a ruler.” Even the senior judges were brought in from Hungary, after the Czechs had fled. Only the small-scale village judges, who were Ruthenians for the most part, were left in their posts. Most of the Jewish lawyers had their work permits confiscated. Only the veteran lawyers who had been certified during the Austro-Hungarian era or family members of the victims of the First World War were permitted to work in their professions. The Jewish physicians in Chust and the region were not displaced, apparently due to the serious dearth of physicians among the Hungarian people.

During the following phase, an inspection of business and work permits of the Jews of Chust and Maramures began. Dozens of Jewish manufacturing enterprises and businesses were taken from their owners and replaced with Hungarians who were brought in from the interior of the country. In most cases, the new Hungarian owners would employ the prior owners of the enterprises, for they did not have the necessary knowledge and expertise to run a business in such a situation, where the area was foreign to them both with respect to the population whose language they did not understand, and with respect to marketing strategies. In the best case, the extorters (“Shtruman” as they were called locally) paid the Jewish owners a salary sufficient to sustain themselves. However, in many cases, and possibly in most cases, the previous owners were treated coarsely, and were paid a very meager salary that was insufficient for their livelihood. As an example, we can mention the situation of Yehuda Segal, who owned a factory for hats and caps, whose monthly salary was a ridiculous 40 pengo.

From economic pressure, the Hungarians moved on to physical injury of the Jews of Chust. During the years 1940-1941, the attacks of the hooligans continually increased. On a Sabbath eve in the beginning of 1941 the “Atzei Chaim” Beit Midrash was attacked, and all of its windows were broken. The houses in the area were not damaged. Groups of Hungarian hooligans wandered through the streets and beat any Jew they met along the way. We must add that the military commander of the city, who was indeed an anti-Semitic Hungarian, did not tolerate these wanton actions and reined in the hooligans. At times, he would arrest them for a brief period. The civilian authorities of the city related to the Jews in a relatively proper manner during that period, and generally did go over and above the anti-Semitic laws and edicts of that era. Nevertheless, there was no shortage of arbitrary imprisonments based on false pretexts, such as buying and selling on the black market, and accusations of Communism, espionage, etc. Arrests were also carried out for absurd reasons, such as the case of a Jew who went to purchase a packet of cigarettes with a 100 pengo bill in his hand. The saleswoman claimed that the Jew received the cigarettes along with change from 100 pengo, but had not given over the bill. This Jew was held in a detention camp in Hungary for a full year for this “crime”.

During this difficult era, mutual assistance and a feeling of sharing a common fate developed among Chust Jewry in a way that had never been seen before in all its years of existence. All of the families whose livelihood had been weakened due to the economic decrees were able to get support and assistance from the charitable and benefit funds, as well as from the united community center (consisting of the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox) in Budapest. The Jews of Chust also extended their hand in assistance to their brethren, the refugees from Poland who had fled from the ghettos and the valleys of killing, and arrived in Chust alone or in small groups after hair-raising experiences. The refugees were secretly housed for several days in Jewish homes until they regained their strength and were provided with forged documents and provisions for the journey to Budapest. Jewish girls from Chust who were fluent in the Hungarian language accompanied them to Budapest.

1941 was also the year of enlistment to the work groups of the Hungarian Army. Some Jews of Chust were already enlisted in 1940, particularly those who had served in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War and were therefore considered more trustworthy by the authorities. They even wore Hungarian Army uniforms. Those enlisted from 1941 and onward did not wear uniforms. The draft center was the city of Kosice, from which they were sent to various places. After the outbreak of the German - Soviet War, they were sent to the battlefronts in Ukraine. Most of them perished there by direct murder or by other means of death, such as hunger, harsh labor, freezing, clearing of mines, and other such things. Some of them were later sent to Red Army prisons. Only very few of them were able to return to Hungary for a short time before the deportations and murder of 1944. An entire brigade (101/8), most of whose members were from Chust, but also consisting of residents of other places in the region, was sent to work in the copper mines in the infamous

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Bur Camp in Yugoslavia. Almost nobody survived from that brigade, for they were murdered by the Hungarian Army.

The Hungarian people perpetrated one of its most serious crimes against the Jewish people during the months of July-August 1941. The venue of this criminal activity was the district of Maramures, which had been emptied of Jews for the most part, as is described in the entry on all of the settlements and towns of this book. The deportation in Chust took place on Sunday, the fast of the 17th of Tammuz (delayed from Saturday) (July 13, 1941). In accordance with a list that had been prepared from the outset, composed in the division for registration of foreigners affiliated with the interior ministry in Budapest, dozens of gendarmes spread out throughout the houses of approximately 150 Jewish families in Chust. With murderous haste, without any possibility of preparation or packing vital provisions, approximately 150 families (500-600 people), including women, children, the sick and the elderly, were rushed to the train station and loaded upon the waiting trains. From Chust, they were transported to Jasina, where many Jews from all over Carpatho-Rus and Hungary were already concentrated, under the pretext that they were not citizens of Hungary. In Jasina they were loaded upon trucks and taken across the border to Galicia. In Galicia, they were afflicted with all of the tribulations that one might imagine, until they were mass murdered at pits that had been prepared from the outset near Kamenetz Podolsk and other places.

Very few of the Jews of Chust succeeded in crossing back over the border. Many of those who tried to return, after the great suffering that they endured, were shot and killed at the border. There were also those who expired due to hunger or lack of strength. For example, this was the fate of one of the children of Reb Yakov Yechizkia Greenwald, who fell down and died near the border, not far from Jasina, after one of his young children died of hunger. Even the Jews who succeeded in carrying out their desire and reached Chust were liable to be exposed, which would lead to being sent back and death. This can be shown from the incident with the brother and sister of the Pasternak family. The boy and girls were deported from the city and turned over to the gendarmes, who immediately took them across the border and murdered them in cold blood.

The deportees of Chust, unlike those of most of the residents of Maramures, stemmed from the poorer or weaker classes from an economic perspective, and who did not make arrangements to obtain the papers needed for establishing citizenship while there was still time. Most of the Jews of the city were nevertheless able to provide themselves with certificates, and were not deported. However, there were those who did not take care of such matters due to their concerns for obtaining a morsel of bread. They did not relate to the citizenship decrees as an actual, immediate danger, for with their simpleminded and pure thinking, they could not imagine such a diabolical possibility. They knew that not only themselves, but also their fathers and grandparents were born and died on this land.

Exactly three weeks after the deportation of the Jews of Chust, on Tisha BeAv (August 3, 1941) the gendarmes again searched through the houses of approximately 60 Jewish homes in Chust. The scene of the 17th of Tammuz was repeated exactly. They were also taken to the “Zamir” transit camp next to Jasina. When their turn came to board the trucks, a command was received from the central authorities in Budapest to delay the expulsion for a brief period. After a short time, the gendarmes were commanded to send back to their own homes all of the Jews who had not yet crossed the border. It was clear that the intercession of Hungarian Jews who had influence with the authorities as well as Regent Horthy had finally had its effect. The deportation order was canceled, and the second group shipment of Chust Jewry was saved from murder and given a reprieve – until May 1944.

 

The Ghetto and the Extermination

The reprieve given to the Jews of Chust lasted for approximately two and a half years, from the end of the summer of 1941 when the deportations and murder in Poland started, until April 1944 when the end of Hungarian Jewry, including Chust, began. Even during this relatively calm period, there was no shortage of tribulations. The enlistment to work camps lasted throughout that period, and many of the draftees were sent to Ukraine, which sentenced them to an almost certain death. Many of the Jews of Chust, especially the families of the draftees, lost their livelihoods. They lost their sources of bread and lived on communal support, something that they were not used to. However, life continued more or less along its path. The deportations to Ukraine almost stopped during 1943 and the beginning of 1944. Most of the draftees during those months were sent to locations inside the county. Even so, the situation of these “fortunate” people was not at all easy, for they worked at hard labor for 10-12 hours per day, and were open to the libels of any Hungarian “riffraff” who stood at the head of their work brigades. The Orthodox Jews who were drafted into these work groups suffered additionally under the Hungarian commanders, who took the opportunity to oppress them in an evil fashion for their lack of knowledge of the Hungarian Language. They starved for they would not eat the non-kosher food, and therefore suffered additionally. The Orthodox were the majority of the Jews of Chust. Aside from this, their lives were not in danger. There was also an era of several months in 1943 where there was a bit of economic improvement for several people of initiative, including dozens of Jews of Chust, particularly among some of the girls who were fluent in the Hungarian language and their Jewishness did not “prick” the eyes of the gentiles. They would travel to starving Budapest with food provisions in their sacks. The food was in greater demand in the capital. They received good prices in exchange, which they used to purchase articles of clothing and haberdashery – merchandise which was in demand in Maramures. In this manner, these young girls were able to greatly assist the livelihood of their families.

This continued until that bitter day arrived, that Sunday March 19, 1944, when the German tanks crossed the Hungarian border and conquered Hungary in a storm, while Regent Horthy, the ruler of Hungary, came under the diplomatic and military command of Hitler. It quickly became known throughout Hungary that the “liquidation process” would be carried out by German Army that was responsible for carrying out the Final Solution and executing it upon the Jews of Hungary as well. From this time and on, events unfolded at a dizzying speed, and there is no place here to describe them in all their detail. We will only describe those events that are unique to Chust.

Immediately after the German forces entered the city at the end of March, all of the Jewish residences were confiscated in order to house the army captains. These were the veteran soldiers of the Wehrmacht, who did not treat the Jews coarsely. On the contrary, among them were some captains who acted politely and properly. This instilled feelings of hope and encouragement in the perplexed Jews, that perhaps

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the situation was not so bad. Change came rapidly. The Gestapo appointed a Judenrat, headed by Dr. Hegedus, a lawyer and intelligent man, who was fluent in the German language. The Gestapo constantly made demands of “give, give!” The first thing that they demanded was a half a million pengo in cash. After that, new demands came each day: typewriters, radios, rugs, bedding, gold, and silver.

Preparations for the establishment of a ghetto in the city began on the day following Passover. At first, the government wanted to set up the ghetto in one of the suburbs of the city where most of the residents were not Jews. However, the residents of that suburb objected to leaving their homes, so the ghetto was set up in the center of the city, between Masaryk and Csillag Streets and the lanes that branched off from them, where almost all the inhabitants were Jews. The courtyard of the Great Synagogue and all of the buildings therein were also within the precincts of the ghetto. Several additional streets, between which there was no direct passage, also fell into the area of the ghetto. It was forbidden to go from street to street. The offices of the Judenrat were located in the residence of the rabbi.

{Photo page 264: A forced labor camp in Chust.}

Already on the day after Passover, approximately 40 Jews of Chust were taken out of their houses and brought to the Atzei Chaim Beit Midrash. These were the wealthy Jews, the communal notables, and influential people. They were taken as hostages to ensure that the process of entry to the ghetto would be carried out without difficulties or opposition. Therefore, the influential people who were liable to arouse the Jews and cause problems were selected. The intention was also to depress the spirits of the Jews, who were separated from their leaders. The hostages were held there until the end of the procession. They were tortured and beaten in a cruel fashion, and degraded with various tribulations. We should add that the Chust Ghetto was one of the first in Hungary, and, following the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that took place one year earlier, the Germans did not know what they might expect from such a well-rooted and vibrant community as Maramures Jewry, which was not very different from Polish Jewry in terms of its national consciousness and other Jewish features.

The entry of the Jews of Chust into the ghetto was conducted in stages between April 20 and April 27, 1944. The gendarmes entered every Jewish home, accompanied by members of the local police and communal delegates, and informed the inhabitants of the entry into the ghetto, and of the amount of belongings that each person was allowed to take with them (generally up to 50 kilograms). Valuables and money were stolen from the Jews on the spot. The Jews were hauled from their homes to one of the synagogues, which was filled to the brim. There, they were held for one to three days while the great pillaging was taking place. Each Jew, men and women, underwent a thorough and degrading body search. Everything of any value or that was desired by the searchers was taken from them on the spot. In the interim, while the Jews of Chust were held in the synagogues, the Jewish homes were emptied of all furniture and objects of monetary value. From there, they were brought to the ghetto where they lived in great crowding. The allotment was two square meters per person. Average sized rooms housed from 15 to 20 people. A fence was set up around, and all windows and doors facing the street were boarded up.

In comparison to other ghettos in the region, especially the Mátészalka Ghetto, to which most of the Jews of Czech Maramures were sent, the living conditions in the Chust Ghetto were almost tolerable. Of course, even in the Chust Ghetto there was no shortage of torture and torment. The rations in the ghetto were also relatively orderly and of almost logical size, of course in comparison to other ghettos. The authorities acceded to the request of the Judenrat that a large proportion of the food provisions that were pillaged from the Jews be placed at the disposal of the public kitchen that was set up in the ghetto. Of course, this does not mean that the Jews ate to satiation in the Chust Ghetto. Apparently, there was a certain degree of humaneness in the relations between the police and gendarmes and the Judenrat. However, there were officials and men of power whose cruelty stood out greatly. The Holocaust survivors repeat the name of the Hungarian sub-aviator Biro Juszka. Less frequently, the name of the Ruthenian judge Laszlo Andriovich is mentioned. Biro was taken up to be killed after the war.

Jews from the following settlements were also brought to the Chust Ghetto: Nankovo,

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Szuden, Sojmy, Sinovir, Szilas, Kopcany, Kryva, and Slatioara. In total, there were approximately 8,000 Jews in the Chust Ghetto.

The Jews of Chust were deported to Auschwitz in three transports. The first transport left on May 22, the second on May 25, and the third on May 30, 1944. Before the deportation, each group was taken to the brick kiln, where each Jew, man and woman, was subjected to an additional painful and degrading body search. The private parts of the body were searched for objects of value and coins. The women were checked by midwives. The sadistic acts of the midwife Sarosi stood out for their cruelty. Aside from the degrading check, she would beat the women, kick pregnant women, and do other such things. The examinations took an entire day, with each of the 3,000 Jews waiting their turn while standing in the sun beating down upon their heads. From the brick kiln, the deportees were hauled on foot for the four kilometer distance to the train station, where the train to Auschwitz was waiting for them on a side track. Those who were weak and could not keep up the pace along the long walk were beaten by the butts of the guns and cursed. Many of those walking let go of their belongings, which were picked up by the non-Jews who were watching the spectacle with joy, or in the best case, with indifference. Only a few showed signs of sympathy with the tribulations of the entire population with whom they had lived and worked together for generations. The third deportation was not taken to the brick kiln, but rather to the rooms of the Talmud Torah, where they were subject to the examination with the same murderous cruelty.

Heartrending scenes took place next to the train cars, where family members were separated, and babies were even separated from their parents. The Jews were arranged in groups in accordance with the number of people who would fill up a car, between 70 to 90 people per car. The groups were loaded upon the cars without concern for the fact that some of the family members were placed in a different car. The screams and pleading were to no avail. On the contrary, those who pleaded for the families being together were pushed into the cars by the butts of the rifles with great brutality. Last minute examinations of those people suspected of hiding valuables took place at the cars. Several people were shot on the spot, including the forestry merchant Winkler, an honorable Jew from Kosice, whose former friend, a German forestry merchant, reported that he was hiding dollars. They indeed found dollars in the soles of his shoes, and he was shot on the spot. Several incidents of this nature took place. The journey to Auschwitz lasted for three days in the cramped cars with unbearable heat. Several people died in several of the cars. For example, in one car, two elderly people and a young woman died. In another car, a woman went into labor. Both the mother and baby died.

There were attempts to escape from the Chust Ghetto. Most of them did not turn out successfully. Several of the escapees wanted to join the partisans who were active several dozen kilometers away from the forests of Maramures. Apparently, however, not one of them survived. Some of them were exposed by the Ruthenian and forest guards while escaping, and turned in to the gendarmes. Even those who succeeded in reaching their destination were greeted by the partisans with a volley of shots. Even those who were apparently accepted into their service were later killed by them during the battles with the Germans. The Ukrainian partisans were confirmed anti-Semites who did not tolerate Jews among them. A small number of those who were drafted to work service and sent to Ukraine, as has been mentioned, were imprisoned by the Germans. These people later joined the Czech brigade of General Sodova. Some of them fell in the battles, and some survived. Most of those who survived made their way to Israel during the illegal immigration, and participated in the War of Independence – most of them as captains with battle experience.

It is appropriate to note what took place with one family of Chust who attempted to escape from the annihilation through resourceful and brave means. Mrs. Helena Rosenfeld, a native of Bavoshelitz (the daughter-in-law of Reb Moshe Tetsher) was active, along with her sons, in saving people. Her son Shmuel, who prepared forged documents for the refugees of Slovakia and Poland, was especially involved. When his turn came to enlist in the work groups, he disappeared and hid in the house. One Saturday, the gendarmes came to look for him in the house. His mother told them with complete self-assurance that her son had lived in Budapest for three years already, and she had no information about him. The gendarmes were convinced, and left the house, while Shmuel was in the next room listening to everything that was said.

Before the entry into the ghetto, the entire Rosenfeld family, consisting of the husband, the wife, four sons and a daughter, fled to Budapest on a train, holding Aryan papers. The forged documents that were the handiwork of Shmuel Rosenfeld were impeccable, and did not cause the escapees to be turned in. The issue was the Jewish appearance of the people. All of the men were taken from the train and send to Auschwitz. The mother and daughter hid in Budapest, pretending to be gentiles, until the liberation of the city on January 18, 1945. The mother made aliya in 1948 and settled in Bnei Brak, where she rebuilt her family from scratch. She died on 25 Iyar, 5738 (1978).

One Jew named Roth, who was a government official (notary), remained in Chust even after the deportation. He was married to a gentile and did not leave his house for the entire period. He was simply forgotten about, and nobody searched after him.

 

After the Holocaust

The survivors began to return to Chust with the liberation of the Carpatho-Rus region. There were approximately 50 of them at the beginning of 1945. As the Nazis were pushed toward the direction of Germany, and allied armies began to surround them and cut them off from the east and the west, additional Jews of Chust were liberated. Some of them found their way to the city, and Jewish residents of the nearby villages joined them. There were already 400 Jews in Chust by the summer of 1946. Religious life centered around the Beit Midrash of Reb Moshe Aharon. There they worshipped and gathered so that they could be together. Along with this, they also cleaned up the Great Synagogue and other Beit Midrashes, which the Nazis had left behind desecrated and filthy. The community did everything in its power to revive religious life. Among other things, they hired shochtim (ritual slaughterers). The first was Reb Amram Taub, one of the grandsons of the brother of the Arugat Habosem. When Reb Amram left Chust, Reb Menachim Markovich of Kalin was chosen as the shochet (today he is a shochet in one of the Moshavim of Israel). During the brief period prior to the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia[13] and the transfer of Carpatho-Rus to Soviet rule, a significantly intensive religious life was conducted in Chust.

Jewish survivors reached the echelons of upper government and took advantage of this situation for the benefit of the Jews, both in a communal and private manner. The aforementioned Dr. Israel Artzi was the deputy mayor of Chust for a few months. Among other things, this period was utilized for the return of

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pillaged Jewish property to its owners or their heirs. Most of the Jews were astute enough to sell the property and leave the country secretly. Many were captured at the border and imprisoned; however, due to Jewish influence, they were not brought to trial, and liberated. A Soviet Jewish captain from Odessa, Pinchas (Petri) Lissa was involved with smuggling across the border. Despite the fact that this young Jew received his entire education under Soviet rule, he was dedicated with heart and soul to his Jewish brethren in Chust. Later, he became the deputy mayor. Still later, he was appointed as editor of the local newspaper. In 1965, when the aliya movement to Israel became active in the Soviet Union, Lissa became involved in this activity in an energetic and helpful fashion behind the back of his superiors. He secretly came to the aid of those who registered for aliya, with both advice and with deeds, for he was familiar with all the contortions of the Soviet regime. He would formulate their request in perfect Russian and fill in their questionnaires and forms. Thus did he act in secret until the summer of 1967. When a demand was made of Lissa, following the Six Day War, to publish an article in his newspaper denouncing “the Israeli attack”, he confronted the authorities and refused to fulfill the command. Of course, he was removed immediately from his position, but to his own great surprise, more drastic steps were not taken against him. From that time, he worked openly on behalf of aliya to Israel, and he himself was among those who requested an aliya permit, which was refused time after time. His request was finally granted, and he made aliya in May 1978.

Even under the Communist regime, Jewish life continued to some degree in Chust. To some degree, Jewish life even continues today. The Jews of Chust maintained several mitzvot with great dedication and personal danger. The Jews of Chust baked matzos every year, albeit not always with a permit. Several Jews were imprisoned and taken for inquisition for the baking of matzos. Despite the great danger, most of the Jews circumcised their sons. The Chevra Kadisha continued to operate through all the times in accordance with its ancient customs, and according to Jewish tradition. Even the Jewish Communists who served in senior government and party positions gave orders before their deaths that they be brought to Jewish burial in accordance with tradition. We know of one case that is quite typical. The party heads came to arrange a Communist style funeral for one of the party heads, and of course to bury him in one of the new cemeteries set up for atheists. How surprised were they to find out that the deceased had already been buried in a Jewish grave in accordance with Jewish customs. The party and government officials, headed by the mayor, threatened those who were involved with imprisonment. To their surprise, the Chevra Kadisha members took out a photograph of the will of the deceased in which he requested that he be buried in accordance with tradition. The government officials quickly began to negotiate with the Chevra Kadisha members – in return for the original will, they promised to “forget” the entire incident, for they were interested in covering up the incident that did not reflect well on the party and its leaders. The Chevra Kadisha was headed until a few years ago by Reb Mordechai Hoffman (he made aliya and lives in Bnei Brak.) An official Jewish community of some form, recognized by the government and State controlled, exists to this day in Chust. In its latter form, the head of the community is chosen from among the “workers” in accordance with the proletariat government. The communal heads included the bookbinder Shmuel Hershkovitch, the carpenter Israel Yakov Kaufman, and others.

The Beit Midrashes were expropriated by the civic government and given over to secular uses. The Hassidic Beit Midrash is used as a movie theater today. The Atzei Chaim Beit Midrash had been turned into a warehouse of merchandise. It collapsed miraculously when it was covered with heavy snow. In 1958, the civic authorities also decided to expropriate the Great Synagogue. They designated it to be torn down, so they could build a Communist hall in its place. However, the Jewish women of Chust acted with unusual energy and strength. Several hundred women of the city and the region gathered at a stormy demonstration. They raised an outcry stating the plan would only be carried out over their dead bodies. Dozens of policemen arrived at the place, but the women stood their own. After the spirits calmed down somewhat, a woman of the community stood up and addressed the government representatives with the following words: “You have taught us for many years that full equality between the nations and religions exists under Communist rule. In Chust, there are ten Christian churches of the various denominations.” She continued on, “We will agree to the dismantling of the synagogue on one condition, that the synagogue of the Jewish religion be the second in line.” Indeed the synagogue was saved, and continues to exist to this day. They even conduct services there at set times. Today, this is the only synagogue in all of Carpatho-Rus, including the cities of Ungvar (Uzhgorod) and Munkacs.

 

Bibliography

Notes of Reb Dov Moskowitz, a native of Chust who made aliya in the year 5693 (1933), among the students who accompanied Rabbi Dushinsky when he made aliya to Jerusalem to accept the rabbinate.
Interviews with Chust natives.
Daniel Kahana: Memories from Father and Grandfather… Sections 1 and 2. Bnei Brak, 5719 (1959). Two volumes (in stencil).
Moshe Aryeh Stern: The Voice of Blood, a Scroll of Lament and Horror. Yiddish. (New York, about 5727 / 1967).
Shlomo Roseman: Memories of the martyred Jews of Carpatho-Rus -- Maramures (Yiddish). (Rechovot, 5729 / 1969). Various places in the book.
The aforementioned: Rashei Galut Ariel, Volume I. Brooklyn, 5736 (1976). Pages 210-237.
Yehuda Erez (Editor): The Book of Carpatho-Rus (Encyclopedia of the Diaspora, volume 7, 5719 / 1959) Pages 27, 31.
Avraham Fuchs: The Yeshivas of Hungary. Jerusalem 5739 (1979), pages 478-494.
Yekutiel Yehuda Greenwald: A Holy Monument. Volume I; Sighet and the District of Maramures. New York, 5712 (1952). Pages 45-52, 82-85. 95.
Zichronot Hamaor. Volume II, New York, 5734 (1974). Pages 340-341.
Yehoshua Levi: Annals of Beitar in Czechoslovakia. Tel Aviv, 5721 (1961). Page 306.
Rabbi Eliezer Deutsch. Responsa Pri Hasadeh Volume 3. Paksh, 5673 (1913), sections 105, 107.
The aforementioned: Responsa Chelkat Hasadeh. Podgorova. 5660 (1900). Page 29 folio a. Section 184.
Magyar-Zsido Okleveltar, Budapest, vol V (1969) nrs. 741, 849, 1033; vol VII (1963) pp. 189, 140, 808, 740; vol XVI (1966), p. 105.
Magyar-Zsido Lexikon, Budapest 1929, p 123.
Encyclopaedia Judaica, Jerusalem (1971), vol. X, pp. 958/9.
Testimonies from Yad Vashem: 015/154; 015/527; 015/584; 015/617; 015/618; 015/657; 015/669; 015/680; 015/681; 015/684; 015/782; 015/796; 015/868; 015/980;015/1254; 015/1255; 015/1256; 015/1298; 015/1412; 015/1304; 015/1350; 015/1351; 015/1389; 015/1396; 015/1404; 015/1406; 015/1407; 015/ 1413; 015/1418; 015/1419; 015/1445; 015/1453; 015/1478/ 015/1484; 015/1552; 015/1510; 015/1515; 015/1568; 015/1595; 015/1856; 015/1860; 015/1896/ 015/2119; 015/2161; 015/2302; 015/2305; 015/2378; 015/2543; 015/2646; 015/2752; 015/2800; 015/2814; 015/2816; 015/2828; 015/2630.
Translator's Footnotes:
  1. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maharam_Shik Return
  2. Circumcision ceremonies are generally held in the morning. Although they may be performed all day, they are invalid if performed after nightfall. Return
  3. The traditional Purim gifts. Return
  4. Tunisia. Return
  5. There is a footnote in the text here #3. I will highlight these footnotes with double parentheses. However, there are no text footnotes noted at the bottom of the pages, or at the end of the section. Return
  6. Ritual menstrual impurity. Return
  7. Isaiah 25:8. Return
  8. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edah_HaChareidis Return
  9. Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin are a second set of Tefillin, with slightly different construction, worn by especially pious individuals in order to fulfill both sides of a difference of opinion in the construction of Tefillin. Return
  10. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chovot_ha-Levavot Return
  11. Non Torah-oriented subjects. Return
  12. The American Joint Distribution Committee. Return
  13. In 1948. Return

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