“Seini”
Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Romania, Volume 2
(Seini, Romania)

47°45' / 23°17'

Translation of “Seini” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Romania

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1980


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Romania, Volume II,
pages 199-201, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1980


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[Pages 199-201]

Seini

Translated by Jerrold Landau

(Romanian: Seini, Hungarian: Szinérvárjla)

Seini is a town in the district of Satu Mare, about 30 kilometers east of the district city. The majority of its residents were Romanian.

Jewish Population

YearPopulation% of Jews in
Population
190063412.5
192045210.3
193067313.0
194171212.6
1947150 

 

[Page 200]

Until the End of the First World War

The first Jews arrived in Seini from Galicia during the 1760s. A census of the Jewish population took place with the permission of the community in 1785, in which Jews from 15 nearby villages were included. The ledger was lost during the Holocaust, along with the data on the community that included, among other things, births, marriages and deaths starting from 1850. Apparently, Seini served as an important Jewish center for all the villages of the area during the 1780s. This strengthened until the middle of the 19th century, especially due to the fact that the district city of Satu Mare was closed to the Jews until the end of the Hungarian War of Independence in 1848-49.

Aside from the traditional sources of livelihood of the Jews in the area, such as retail and wholesale commerce, trades, brokering, and service positions, the Jews of Seini also earned their livelihood from estates. Among them were some vineyard owners who stockpiled grapes for kosher wine. Among the Jews there were large-scale yeast merchants. Prior to the First World War, they were also involved in export, especially to Galicia.

The community: We do not have information on the beginning of communal life in Seini. Apparently, there was already an organized community by 1785, which owned a synagogue, a cemetery, and maintained a Chevra Kadisha [burial society], and a mikva [ritual bath]. It is almost certain that there was a local shochet [ritual slaughterer] who also made the rounds to the villages of the area. The cemetery of Seini also served the Jews of the area. The old cemetery was expanded at the beginning of the 20th century, and the community sanctified a new plot. A new synagogue was built in the middle of the 19th century, and was expanded and renovated at the beginning of the 20th century. With the passage of time, new institutions for the study of Torah and for conducting charitable and benevolent activities were started. Already at the beginning of the Jewish settlement of the place, the children received a Jewish education from private teachers. At the end of the 19th century, education was organized under the auspices of the Talmud Torah under communal supervision.

Rabbis; The first rabbi of Seini was Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaLevi Ish Horowitz, who served for about 30 years (1810-1840) until his death. He left behind many compositions, but they were not published. His son Rabbi Mordechai HaLevi Ish Horowitz published several of his father's novellae in his book “Parashat Mordechai” (Ungvar, 5626 / 1866) under the heading of “Likutei Tzvi”. Rabbi Michel Tzvi Shanfeld served in Seini from 1850-1884. He made aliya and died in Jerusalem in 1885. He maintained halachic discussions with two of the great rabbis of Galicia, Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson and the Admor of Sanz Rabbi Chaim Halberstam. Many years after his death, his grandchildren published his composition Meimei Tzvi – novellae on Talmudic discussions and sermons on the festivals (Dés 5696 / 1936). In 1889, Rabbi Yechezkel Baneth (1863-1913) became the rabbi of Seini. He maintained a small yeshiva. He also maintained contact with halachic discussions with the Torah leaders of Hungary and Galicia. Rabbi Baneth received tens of halachic responsa from the Torah giants of his time, in which several of the problems of economics, society and spirituality of the community of Seini are expressed: For example, the Yad Yitzchak Responsa (sections 1-3, from Kolafalva-Seini-Satmar 5662-5669 / 1902-1909), by his son-in-law Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Glick. Rabbi Baneth brought these to publication and included his own notes and novellae. He also brought to publication the book Shem Shlomo, by his renowned grandfather Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, the author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch[1] (Seini 5668). Rabbi Yechezkel Baneth died on Sivan 1, 5673 / 1923.

Hebrew publication: Seini was known in the Jewish and Torah world on account of the Hebrew printing press that was founded there in 1905 by Yaakov Weider, and that existed until the Holocaust. 130 Hebrew books were published in Weider's printing press. The printing was sophisticated, with attractive letters, and the chapters were delineated in good taste. The most prolific period was in the decade from 1920-1930, when 82 books were published there. This was the third largest publishing house in Transylvania, after those of Sighet and Satu Mare (see entries). It was not only authors from Transylvania who used this printing press, but also authors from other areas of Romania as well as from outside the country: broken down, there were 38 from Transylvania, 26 from other areas in the country (Regat[2], Bessarabia, Bukovina), 23 from Hungary, 15 from Poland and Galicia, 8 from the United States and England, 6 from the Land of Israel (the rest were prayer books and books of earlier authors). Eight periodicals were also published in Seini, almost all from Transylvania.

During World War I, 70 Jews of the town were drafted to the Austro-Hungarian Army, 12 of whom fell in battle.

 

Between the Two Wars

The war and the economic depression that came in the wake of the regime changes affected the Jews of Seini negatively. Many of the businessmen lost their livelihoods, especially those involved in export. Approximately 200 Jews left the town to try their luck in larger centers – mostly in the city of Satu Mare, which continued to develop. The Jewish population of Seini increased during the 1930s as a result of natural growth as well as internal immigration from the villages of the district, whose lands were expropriated due to the process of agrarian reform, and whose taverns were subject to administrative difficulties from the village authorities. This process increased at the end of the 1930s, with the increase of the Kozistim foundations of the farmers of the area, and the lives of the Jews were in danger.

Not many changes took place in communal life during that era. The communal budget was met thanks to several wealthy Jews who donated a significant portion of it. This maintained the existing institutions and even slightly expanded their scope, such as the creation of a women's organization for matters of charity and benevolence.

Rabbis: After the death of Rabbi Yechezkel Baneth in 1913, his son-in-law Rabbi Yissachar Dov Segal Levi, the son-in-law of the rabbi of Frauenkirchen, one of the “Seven Communities”, was accepted into the Seini rabbinate. While he was in Seini, he published sections 2 and 3 of the book of his father Yismach Leiv in two sections (5673, 5686 / 1913, 1926). He died at the age of 43 on the 13th of Tevet 5691 (1931). The final rabbi of Seini was Rabbi Avraham Schwartz, who perished in the Holocaust.

Virtually all of the Jews of Seini were observant of Torah and commandments, and were also vigilant about the Yiddish language. In the census of 1930, 596 identified Yiddish as their mother tongue.

Zionism: The first organized Zionist activity in Seini was apparently the founding of the local chapter of the

[Page 201]

“Aviva” youth group for girls in 1924, with 16 girls. The chapter developed with the passage of time, and additional girls became involved. The religious Zionist idea struck roots with the young people, but they only began to organize themselves during the 1930s. In 1934, the chapter already had 55 members, and one of the main activities that took place was the study of Hebrew. In 1935, the chapter held a farewell party for the first pioneer to make aliya to the land. The community also supported the Mizrachi youth, both directly, as well as by granting permission to pledge for the national funds when one received an aliya to the Torah. In 1935, a chapter of Hanoar Hatzioni was also founded, but the number of its members was smaller.

The following data surveys the development of Zionist activity in Seini. In 1930, there were 11 purchases of the shekel[3]; in 1931 – 40, in 1933 – 30, in 1934 – 40; in 1935 – 114; in 1936 – 131; in 1938 – 160; and in 1939 – 187. 202 individuals voted for the 21st Zionist Congress in 1939: Mizrachi – 193, and General Zionists – 63 (these numbers include the Jews of the village of Apa).

Approximately 15 villages belonged to the Seini rabbinical district. Some of them maintained their own communal life, such as Apa (110 Jews in 1930, see entry); Borleşti (58); Pomi (79), and Valea Vinului (57 Jews).

 

The Holocaust

We do not have any information on what happened with the Jews of Seini from the time of the Hungarian entry to northern Transylvania in September 1940 until their deportation to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944. In May 1944, the Jews of Seini were concentrated in the ghetto of Satu Mare (see entry), from where they were deported to Auschwitz for annihilation.

After the war, approximately 150 Holocaust survivors gathered in Seini, but they left a short time later. Most of them made aliya to Israel.

Today there is no Jewish community in Seini.

Yo”ch

Bibliography

Abraham, Tzvi Yaakov: “The Annals of Jewry in Transylvania”, section 1, New York, 5711 (1951), page 36;
Kohen, Y. Yosef: “Hebrew Printing in Transylvania”. A. Seini, Kiryat Sefer, volume 33 (5718 / 1958), pp. 386-403;
Op. Cit. “Seventy Years of Torah Periodicals in Transylvania”, Areshet, Volume I (5719 / 1959), pp. 299-326 (numbers 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13);
Nathanson, Yosef Shaul, “Responsa Shoel Umeishiv”, Third Edition, Lemberg 5636 (1876), Section I, paragraph 118;
Halberstam, Chaim, “Responsa Divrei Chaim”, Lvov 5635 (1875), Section II, Orach Chaim paragraph 31;
Shwadron, Shalom Mordechai: “Responsa of Maharsh”am”, Section I, Warsaw, 5662 (1902), paragraph 117; Section II, Piotrków 5665 (1905); Section III, Satmar, 5670 (1910), paragraph 243;
Deitch Eliezer: “Responsa Pri Hasadeh”, Section I, Pecs, 5666 (1906), paragraph 83; Section IV, same place, 5675 (1915), paragraph 58;
Glick, Avraham Yitzchak: “Responsa Yad Yitzchak”, Section I, Ermi-Kolafalva, 5662, paragraph 189, 202, 206; Section II, Seini, 5665 (1905), paragraphs 4, 5, 22, 209, 210, 268, 269, 270; Section II, Satmar 5669 (1909), paragraphs 8, 32, 168, 170, 187, 311, 337;
Weiss, Binyamin Aryeh: “Responsa Even Yekara”, Third edition, Drohobyce 5673 (1903), paragraphs 116, 152, 153;
Greenwald, Yehuda: “Responsa Zichron Yehuda”, Section II, Ujhel 5688 (1928), paragraph 119;
Winkler, Mordechai Leib, “Responsa Levushei Mordechai”, first edition, Even Haezer, Svalyava 5673 (1912), paragraph 12;
Brisk, Mordechai: “Responsa Maharam Brisk”, New York 5723 (1963), Section I, paragraphs 106, 117.
“Magyar-Zsidó Lexikon”, Budapest 1929 p. 1005;
Stein Artúr: “A Felekzeti Anakönyvek Magyaroszágon”, Budapest 1941, p 93;
Hegedüs, Márton: “A Magyar hadviselt żsidók Aranyalbuma”, Budapest 1941, p 50*.

 

Translator's Footnotes
  1. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Abridged Code of Jewish Law) is frequently used to this day as a compendium of practical Jewish law. Return
  2. A colloquial term for the Romanian areas of Moldavia and Wallachia, which have always been traditionally Romanian. Return
  3. The token of membership in the Zionist movement. Return.

 


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