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[Page 85]

Yedinitz in the Encyclopedia Judaica, Jerusalem 1972

[H,Y,English]

Translated by David Goldman

YEDINTSY (Rum. Edineti). Town in N. Moldavian S. S. R. in the region of Bessarabia. Yedintsy developed in the first half of the 19th century from a village into an urban settlement as a result of the settlement of Jews who were then coming to Bessarabia. In 1897 the Jews numbered 7,379 (72% of the total population) and in 1930 5,341 (90.4%). The writer Judah Steinberg lived there at the end of the 19th century. The institutions of the community included a hospital which was established in 1930 and a Tarbut school. [Et. F.]

HOLOCAUST PERIOD. The town was occupied by Germans and Rumanians on July 5, 1941. Within two days 500 to 1,000 Jews were murdered. Women and young girls were raped and some of them committed suicide. The victims were buried in three large ditches and the Jewish gravediggers who had interred the bodies were in turn murdered and buried on the spot. Rumanian gendarmes and troops were assisted in the massacre of the Jews by many of the peasants living in the area. In the middle of August a concentration camp was set up at Yedintsy, where all surviving Jews and those from different places in the north of Bessarabia, particularly from *Bukovina were interned. In September there were about 12,000 Jews in the camp. Many of the inmates succumbed to disease, cold weather, hunger, and thirst; 70 - 100 persons died every day. On Sept 16, 1941 all the inmates of the camp were deported to *Transnistria and only a few managed to survive. The few dozen families still alive at the end of the war settled either in Chernovtsy or in Israel. Only a handful chose to return to Yedintsy. In the late 1960's the Jewish population was estimated at about 200. There was no synagogue although the Jewish Cemetery was still extant. [J. AN.]


[Page 87]

Yedinitz in Yizkor Books

[Yiddish]

Translated by Miriam Dashkin Beckerman

During the past two years 2 large historical memorial books have appeared in Israel: “Pinkas of the Rumanian Communities,” published by “Yad Vashem,” Jerusalem 1970, and “The Jews of Bessarabia,” in the series “Encyclopedia of the Diaspora,” Jerusalem 1971. In both books Yedinitz is often mentioned in various contexts.

In both books we find historical research regarding the distant and recent past of Bessarabia. The particulars about Yedinitz are very limited and very condensed.

First of all, in the book, “Rumania,” the name of the shtetl (in Hebrew) is spelt Adinitz. That's how the translator of the material that was originally published in Rumanian, transliterated the names of the shtetl from Edinti into Hebrew, and nobody pointed out the error to him.

More particulars about Yedinitz are found regarding the overview of the expulsion during wartime to Transnistria.

Regarding the overview of the Jews between the two world wars, (when Bessarrabia was part of greater-Rumania) Yedinitz is not mentioned. Nor are those mentioned who were murdered on the seventh day of Passover 1915, nor is Shimshon Bronstein's demise, etc. mentioned. However Levise Gukovski is mentioned, the parachutist from Israel during World War II.

By the way, this is the first volume of “Pinkas of the Communities of Rumania,” in the second volume, we have been promised that amongst other things, Bessarabia will also be mentioned, and there Yedinitz will have a separate chapter, based on archival material, which is, by the way very very scant.

The first volume of “Pinkas Rumania” does not have an index of names nor places, so that we could not systematically research where Yedinitz and its inhabitants are mentioned.

More is mentioned about Yedinitz in the book “Jews of Bessarabia.” The name is spelled in Hebrew “Yadinitz,” and this book has an index.

[Page 88]

There is no word about the origin of the shtetl. Regarding the Czarist period it is stated that in the years 1895-1900 orders were issued that the Jews must register. The Jews were persecuted on the border settlements and Yedinitz was in this category. The decree was withdrawn, however, and for this reason the incident was not retained in the memory of the Jews of Yedinitz.

[Above is a copy of an insert in “The Columbia Lipincott Gazetter of the World” where it says: “this is what the world knows about Yedinitz: In 1941, 3960 residents agricultural center, flour mills, lime-stone…until the war, majority of the residents – Jews…” How much misinformation in five brief lines.]

But also in the historical overview of later times, from WWI to WWII, the overview is very scant regarding Yedinitz. The important events of Yedinitz are not mentioned, such as: the pogram of 1917; the murdered ones of 1915. On the other hand the order is mentioned, that one must bow down to the hat of the gendarme – chief Dimitriv.

There is also a report of a case where a Jewish merchant (no name given) was beaten to death because he carried on a dispute with a peasant. There is also an extensive report on a case involving the director of the Seminary, the Priest Georgestco. No mentioned is made in the book, however, about the anti-Jewish demonstrations that the seminarians conducted.

The case of Shimshon Bronstein is barely mentioned (without his name). On the other hand Yedinitz is mentioned a lot with regard to the expulsion to Transnistria in the years 1941-1945.

No mention is made in either book about Yedinitz merchants, spiritual leaders, Rabbonim, teachers, etc., however the overview does include “Chazzanut in Bessarabia,” by Isaiah Vinitski (“Jews of Bessarabia”). There one finds many particulars about the cantors of Yedinitz. As already mentioned, the editors and publishers promise further publications of both books. Let's hope that they will consider more complete reports of Yedinitz.

(signed I.M. “ G.)


[Page 89]

The Joy of Our Town and of its Jewish Community

[Yiddish]

How Old is the Shtetl and Its Jewish Population

by Josef Magen Shitz

Translated by Miriam Dashkin Beckerman

The editors of this book debated much regarding the idea of how to spell the name of the shtetl” Yedinitz, Yedknitz, Yedinitzi, Yedinitz or Yedinetz. It was decided in Yiddish to write “Yedinetz” and in Hebrew – “Yedinitz.” Both spellings are close to the phonetic pronunciation of the local Jews.

The exact entymology of the name is not known. It is all speculation without any real basis. It is believed that the name of the shtetl was “custom made” from the Russian (or Ukrainian) word “Yedinitza” (singular) or “yedintzi” (the only one) or Yedinetz (the only one). From this we can learn that before the settlement was recognized and got official status, there were single houses or lone scattered residents and the place did not yet have a name. The local residents did indeed call their growing settlement: “Yedinitzi” (the only one – houses or people). That is what the self-starting settlement was also called under the new Russian rule.

The Russians had their own way of writing the name of the shtetl (in Cyrillic of course, Yeditzi), but a “yednitzer” was called in Russian “yedinstski” in the singular and in the plural “yedinchaniye.”

The “goyim” who spoke spoke “Goyish” or “Khakhlatze” – the Russians (whose language is similar to Ukrainian) called the shtetl “Yedinitz”: as it was also called by the Moldovians in their folk tongue, just like the Jews.

[Page 90]

When the Rumanians entered Bessarabia (1918) they didn't all use the same Rumanian spelling of the name of shtetl. I recall very well that they wrote:

EDINITA, EDINITI, EDINET, EDINT, EDINTI, EDINTA. Finally the Russians settled on the YEDINTSY – spelled out, of course, in the exact transliteration from the official Russian name.

The fact that the Rumanians didn't have their own (that is to say a previous name for the shtetl) is proof that it was established after the Russian annexation of Bessarabia (1812).

The settlement doesn't have a long history in its past, not a gentile one nor a Jewish one. The “Yevreiskoya Encyclopedia” (Petrograd, 1909) reports that the “Yedintski” settlement received municipal status from a “magistration” (shtetl) in 1835.

The land of the shtetl belonged to noblemen who lived far away: the families Kuzichin and Kazimov. The later stemmed from Poland and were Catholic. The noblemen established several community institutions in the shtetl: built a public school, a …house, a “Norodni Daam” (Folks' House) where later, under the Rumanians, a gymnasium functioned, (and last of all, the Jewish Old Folks' Home). There was an annual exhibition there. A boulevard (tree-lined) was built by him, as well as a large palace for himself, surrounded by an orchard.

The writer of these lines visited the old Jewish cemetery in the early 1930s (together with Yisrael Kolker, who is presently living in Lvov).

In the Exact Statistic -- Reb Shmuel Karmansky writes: It was not hard to know how many Jews were there in Yedinitz. All one had to do is calculate the number of receipts for the kosher slaughtering of chickens that the “karobke” sold before Yom Kippur for “Kapores.” There was not one Jew, God forbid, who didn't or for whom the traditional “Kapores” was not heeded.

[Page 91]

The oldest gravestone that we came across, after a long search, was from the year 1821. Obviously, one should look for the beginning of the shtetl at the start of the 19th century. Taking into account that most of the shtetl and shtetlach in the surroundings are Moldovian, and very few names are Russian or Ukrainian, including Yedinitz, and that Bessarabia came under Russian rule only in 1812 – one can surmise that the “settlement of the singular ones” was founded after the Russian occupation of Bessarabia by Russian or Ukrainian speaking settlers; or it was after 1812 recognized as a municipality and from that got its Russian name. It seems that Jews were amongst the first “singular ones,” who settled there. A sign of this – the Jewish gravestone from the year 1821! But – very few Jews, as we shall see later.

There is no possibility to search archives since, understandably, there are none. Who knows if there ever were any, but no archives that could tell about the founding of Yedinitz and of its Jews exist.

I found mention of Yedinitz in three encyclopedias that I secured. In the Jewish Encyclopedia in Russian, published in Petrograd in 1909, in “Navi Enncyclopedichheski Slovar” from the end of the 19th c, and in the Grand Soviet Encyclopedia, second edition of the recent decades.

The above mentioned “Jewish (Yevreiskaya) Encyclopedia” says the following about “Yedinzi”: “A municipality (since 1835), Khatiner district Bessarabia Gubernia in 1897, the general number of residents 10,211 of whom 7,379 are Jews.” The encyclopedia is based on the census taken in Russia in 1897.

In that year, this encyclopedia states (in another article) there resided in all of the Khatin district 307,532 people, amongst them 48,000 Jews (close to 16%!). The city of Khatin had a population of over 18,000, amongst them 9,291 Jews (over 50%!) and here are the census figures of the settlements inhabited by no less that 500 residents

[Pages 91-92]

Name Total
Population
Jews
Atanki (Otek) 831 123
Balboka 829 84
Britchan 7446 7184
Balashkova 1050 119
Yedinitz 10211 7379
Klishkowitz 7707 1000
Lipkan 6865 4410
Neparakova 1631 268
Navoselitz 5891 3898
Rebovnitzi 2140 369
Securan 8982 5042
Tchepleantz 1555 163

What do we see from this table? That already at that time, at the end of the 19th c. Yedinitz was the second largest city in the district, after Khatin, both according to the number of the general population, as well from the number of Jews. After Yedinitz comes Britchan (the most Jewish shtetl in the whole area!), Securan, Lipkan and Navoselitz.

In 1897 the first modern census was undertaken in Russia. For the first time, individuals were counted. Formerly only “families” were recorded.

A previous census took place in Bessarabia in 1847: It was called “Revision.” The “Jewish Encyclopedia” records the following numbers for the Jewish Communities by which is meant groups, associations, because there was no organized Jewish Kehillah. Following is a table of the Khabin area, according to the revision of 1847:

In Khatin itself: 1067 families
Lipkan 713 families
Novoselitz 81 families
Britchan 602 families

Yedinitz is not mentioned in this table, nor is Securan. Apparently there were in Yedinitz, at that time, less than 81 families that were listed in Novoselitz and we must not forget that already in 1835 Yedinitz got municipal status.

The general population, and particularly the Jewish population of Yedinitz, sprung up in the 50 years between the first count, the “Revision” of 1847 and the census of 1897.

What is the reason for this growth? It is incomprehensible for me. The shtetl was not situated beside a large highway, had no industry, certainly no rich natural resources, and was generally off the beaten track. Perhaps the growth stems from the large agricultural space of which Yedinitz was at the center.

[Page 93]

From whence did the Yedinitz Jews come? According to “names” by which the Jews were called: Terebener, Risener, Zabrichener, etc., many came from the surrounding far and near villages. Some came from the Ukraine, from across the Dniester.

In the 18th century most of the Jews lived in the villages. In the 19th century many Jews left the villages and settled mainly in the shtetl and shtetlach. This process increased during the Rumanian rule, after 1918. After the catastrophe hardly any Jews were to be found in the Bessarabian villages.

And there is another interesting point that concerns the shtetl in the last years of the previous century. In old Rumania one by the name of Zamfir Arbore, a Bessarabian with a “nationalistic-Rumanian” consciousness, who, it appears, ran away from czarist rule in Bessarabia, at that time Rumania (Regat) and had a book published in a geographical lexicon format. In his book Arbore listed all the settlements in Bessarabia in which he included some historical and geographical facts, to the extent of which he was aware. But in this book also there are no particulars about the founding of Yedinitz. He writes the name of the shtetl in a very unique name: EDINTA (Yedintza). Conclusion: This is another proof that there was no Rumanian spelling-tradition for the name of the shtetl.

The above mentioned author “knows” to convey the following dates regarding “Yedintza.” Total population 3450, of these, 1242 Russians. In the shtetl there are approximately 670 houses. That's it. Who are the “Russians” and who are the other 2208 residents? This he doesn't tell us. Nor does he say when (year or epoch) these residents lived there. As stated, it apparently deals with the end of the 19th century. We can't be enlightened by the above mentioned work of Arbore's book of numbers and dates.

And another Rumanian source:

The Rumanian sociologist, Victor Tufesko, released a research about the “Moldavian Shtetlach and Their Economic Importance.” (See Klishe, in the Hebrew version of the article.)

The writer wants to show that the Jewish shtetlachs are a “foreign body” in the agrarian-Rumanian district. He states that the shtetlach were partially founded at the end of the 18th century but mostly in the 19th century. He adds historical and demographic particulars about the shtetlach which he mentions. He apparently relied on reliable sources. This is what he tells about Yedinitz:

[Page 94]

Yedinitz (Khatin). A shtetl founded in 1820. In 1930 it had 5625 residents of whom 5354 were Jews. There was a weekly fair, an oil factory, etc.

The year it was founded (that's to say reorganized as a stable settlement) 1820, is the same as we have previously encountered. The writer has repeated these many errors where it appears as though there were two different settlements – the “town” and the “village.” He only gives statistics for Yedinitz “berg” (town).

Incidentally, the research appeared in 1942, when the Jewish shtetl of Bessarabia, Bukovina, Transilvania and Norah-Moldova was destroyed and the Jews had been expelled and many murdered. The researcher justifies this calculation though his research was unnecessary.

The Rumanians, during their rule in Bessarabia, conducted only one census, but in that period there existed an administrative municipal division for both parts of greater Yedinitz – “Yedinitz town” and Yedinitz village.” And this is what that census gives in its official publications.

In the shtetl-Yedinitz (targ) there was a total population of 5910. Of these, according to their ethnic roots:

Jews 5341
Rumanians 194
Russians 344

But according to “ religious affiliation” the following figures are given:

Mosaic religion 5349, which means that only 5328 people (Jews) declared that their spoken language is Yiddish. That means that eight Jews declared themselves as such from a religious standpoint and not from an ethnic-national standpoint. Twenty-one Jews declared that Yiddish is not their daily spoken language but rather Russian or Rumanian. Factually, a small percentage of assimilated exceptions. Or maybe we have here a mistake in the registration and here are the results of the non-Jewish part of the settlement in the Yedinitz-village. The total number of residents: 5260, amongst them:

According to the “ethnic roots” 398;
According to the Mosaic roots 401;
Yiddish speakers 401

[Page 95]

The other residents (the majority Christians) are listed according to their nationality:

        Rumanians 2183

There are the Moldovers. The true Rumanians from Regat, and the gypsies who declared themselves as Rumanians.

        Russians 2183

(including the “Katzapes,” part of the Bakhlahzke-speaking and the true “Russians” whom the Jews called “Christians” in contrast to those who spoke Ukraine dialects. These the Jews called “goyim”).

        Ukranians 353
        Germans 3

( !- Who are they? Perhaps the remainder of the Ehrlich family, true Germans who lived peacefully amongst Jews? Or maybe the convert Yohan Kaufman's family who became Lutherans, registered as “Germans?”

From the religious standpoint the Christians from the “village” registered as follows:

        Pravoslavneh-Orthodox 3792
        Actually all Christians except:
        Katzepas (Lipovener, Stara-Verbzi) 1014.

In total there lived, at that time, in all of Yedinitz, both in the “shtetl” and the “village,” 11,170 people, less than was previously thought. This included 5150 Jews-330 more than non-Jews (5420). That's to say that in 1930 there were,in the whole shtetl, only 59 people more than in 1897 (10,211!). The number of Jews in 1930 (5750) was reduced by 1629 from 1897 (7379). The difference between the number of Jews and the number of Christians that was in 1897 (2832) more than Jews, in contrast to 1930 (5750) declined by 1629 from the year 1897 (7379). The difference in numbers was even greater between the number of Jews and Christians which was in 1897 (2832 more Jews) as opposed to 1930 (only 330 more Jews). Percentage wise: In 1897 the Jewish population was over half of the total population 72; in 1930 – percentage of Jews fell to 51.

As far as I remember, there were in Yedinitz, at the beginning of the thirties (I worked for a short time in the "Primaria" then), approximately 3000 houses and in more than half of them Jews lived. It was believed at that time that there were around 15,000 in the shtetl of whom more than half were Jews and roughly a smaller portion of Christians. As we see, the Jewish population did not grow but rather declined in Yedinitz since 1897 (7379 Jews!) meanwhile the Christian population grew – nearly double.

[Page 96]

The main reason for the slowed-down growth process of the Jewish population of Yedinitz after 1897 is the emigration to overseas – to North and South America where there are more than 1000 stemming from Yedinitz. Hundreds emigrated to Palestine. Only a few hundred moved to other cities in Russia, or later, Rumania.

And now let us make a further leap to the Bolshoi Sovietski Encyclopedia, second edition. In Volume 15 (published in 1952) we find the following about Yedintski:

A settlement of the city kind. The center of “Yedinctykova region” Yedinitz region. ( Beltykova district) Moldovskya S.S.R. (Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic) is on the railway line Kishenev – Chernowitz, 17 kilometers south-west of the train station Redin Mara (line from Aknitza-Beltz). There are small factories in Yedinitz – of soap, leather, bricks, a mill, schools in 1954, agricultural technions, two middle schools (languages of instruction Russian and Moldavian), a school for the working youth, a cultural center,one cinema, two libraries. Wheat grows in the region, also soybeans. Milk production is also developed. Cattle and sheep are raised. There is a station M.T.S. (Machine and Tractor Station).

Population figures are not given. In Soviet Russia there were, I believe, two national newspapers after the last war. We did not receive any particulars.

The last “shoichet” and Rav, Reb Yeshayeh Elkis, who went on Aliyah to Israel in 1972 reports that in Yedinitz there gathered, in the period of the Soviet rule 300 Jewish families. (See interview with him.)

Where are the Yednitzer survivors now after the catastrophe?

According to a rough reckoning that is, in my opinion, close to the reality, there now live:

        In Israel 600 Yedinitzers
        In North and South America 1000 Yedinitzers
        In other lands 200 Yedinitzers
        In Russia and Rumania 200 Yedinitzers
        In Yedinitz itself 300

Approximately 5000 perished in pogroms, during the Rumanian-German invasion in 1941. In their wandering during their deportation in the death camps of Transnistria. May their memory be blessed!


[Page 97]

Landscape and People in Town

[Yiddish]

By Pinchas Man – Maidlman

Translated by Miriam Dashkin Beckerman

Childhood and homeland!
There's really no difference
It's she that's the seed for wide horizons
And she is the center of the universe
That's why it's no wonder, let's publicly say.
That we all – why should we deny it?
Carry deep in the hidden chambers of our heart,
Forever and always the city of our childhood.

        By Shimshon Meltzer


Memories – What for!

[Yiddish]

At first glance the words seem right of that shtetl-nostalgia-enemy that argued. What do we have in common with that out-of-the-way shtetl, whose way of life we were so fond of and that we left without longing?

It appears that there is much truth in this argument, that the youth who left the shtetlach in Eastern Europe years ago, led by a strong national feeling, a vision of the future, has no grounds for nostalgia for the past. Their direction in life is a result of uprising and struggle against the past and against what awaited them there.

Furthermore, ever since they planted themselves in the Land of Israel, they managed to have a very full life being witnesses to wonderful and colossal changes to which they themselves contributed.

Now the citizens are in a free and sovereign State. The majority raised families and their children live far from the disastrous events that their parents lived through in their childhood and youth.

The boys and girls of yesterday, it's true, have in the intervening years grown grey and lost much hair, but biological changes alone aren't sufficient reason to clamor into the past.

[Page 98]

We must not forget, however, that only once in the history of mankind was there “Braishit” (The Beginning) and from then on there exists a steady connection in the historical process; also the sharpest changes in the individual's life and of the masses, have their roots deep in the social and spiritual weave of the community in which the changes began. One cannot understand them, therefore, without knowing the faces and the background that existed before those changes took place.

Furthermore, we are living in a generation that is swiftly moving forward, true, there is an interest in Middle Age archeology but to mock the graves that were but yesterday dug, are the later not entitled that we should halt there for a moment to tell them that there was once life here? Maybe the gravestones that we are erecting are not monumental, but small and at times provincial, like the shtetlach from which we sprouted, but they are also intimate and individual so that they enable us to unite with relatives, friends and chaverim from whom we have parted forever. The self-confirming eternity is the thread that connects us.

The Shtetl Landscape: Aroma of Gardens
The Spirit of the Shtetl and the Fearful Bells

All around where the steppes spread, there was the apple orchard of Zhilovky behind some houses. There blossomed in the Spring, many colored and wonderfully fragrant plants. There were orchards of apples, pear, cherries and plums. Birds sang and the lawns were green in the summer months. In the sea of autumn gold a wind blew and spread out into the surrounding forests. Winter there was sleigh riding on a horse-drawn sled, the two horses speeding along in a clear white world in the moonlight.

But in spite of the wonderful landscape, Yedinitz was one of the most out-of-the-way places, in a far-off province that “sits” on the border of two nations.

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