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[Page 6]

The Era of the Moldavian Princes

by Dr. Manfred Reifer (Tel Aviv)

Translated by Jerome Silverbush

The Romanian colonization of Bukovina (Land of Beech Trees) flowed from Transylvania1 (Siebenbuergen) and took place in the late Middle Ages at a time when the Tartars had flooded this region and were storming the borders of Siebenbuergen. The Hungarian king felt it was necessary to set up forts on the far side of the Carpathians which on one hand would halt the advance of the Tartars and on the other hand, would protect the trade caravans that traveled from Hungary over the territory of Moldavia to the harbors of the Black Sea. The individual forts that were built along the courses of the Prut, Siret and the Suceava and which later developed into larger and smaller settlements also served as rest stations for the passing caravans. In the interior of Siebenbuergen, itself, certain defensive measures had to be taken against the enemy attacks from the east. For that reason, this region was placed under a unified political and military organization.

The Hungarian king Ludwig the Great (1342 – 1382) created the Ostmark (Marcha Orientalis), which encompassed the regions of Maramuresch, the Szekler , the counties of Kronstadt and Szatmar and trusted the administration of this region to the faithful Andreas, who supposedly was of Romanian descent.

When in 1352, the Tartars attacked the borders of the Szekler teritory2, King Ludwig went into the field against them and defeated and drove them off. The territory on the other side of the Carpathians, stretching from Baia to the Moldova River, that had been cleared of Tartars was put by Andreas under the administration of Sas, the Vojvoden3 coming from Maramuresch. The founding of the city of Siret is attributed to him.

As after his death, unrest broke out among the Romanians of the new province, another Romanian Vojvode from Maramuresch called Bogdan, took advantage of the confusion to force his way into this territory and tear it away from the sons of Sas. Under him and his successors, occurred the gradual separation of this territory from Hungary and the founding of the independent principality of Moldavia, whose capital from 1388-1564 was Suceava.

It cannot be exactly determined when the Jews arrived here. Presumably, Jews already lived here in the Roman-Dacian times. Individual settlements in Bukovina originated in that epoch: Cecina, now Czernowitz, Sucidava, now Suceava, Rachacenum, now Radauti, Poralissum, now, Pojorita, Docirina, now Vatra-Dornei. These events are described by J. Neugebauer, in his book: “Beschreibung der Moldau und Walachei” and R. Kaindl in his “Geschichte der Bukowina.4

In any case, it is interesting to note that the ordinary Romanians recognized the presence of Jews in Romania in the period of “giants and pagans.”

It can without doubt be historically proved that Jews were present in large settlements in the neighboring lands of Moldavia; in Hungary, in the principality of Halicz, in Poland and in the Genoese commercial cities around the Black Sea. But even in Moldavia itself, in the Genoese commercial city of Monte Castro, Jews, who lived in their own quarter of the city are mentioned and already carried on trade in the year 1330.

Around this time, Jewish trade caravans from Poland transported their goods through Bukovina on the way to the Levant. It can't be proven historically, but more than likely, these caravans stopped to rest in the larger settlements in Bukovina and especially in Jewish hostels, to spend the Sabbath. In addition to commercial reasons, the founding of these hostels can be ascribed to religious needs. The Jewish merchants from Poland, Russia and Hungary already stopped traveling on Friday afternoon in order to pas Sabbath in a Jewish settlement; to have a kosher meal and to take part in the religious service.

Also, in the contracts that the Jewish merchants from Constantinople had with the non-Jewish freight carriers in Moldavia, there was always a clause stipulating that the trip had to be interrupted on Shabbat and rest taken.

Out of these rest places and Jewish hostels developed in the following period, larger Jewish communities out of which developed the first Jewish settlements in Moldavia. In these settlements, in part, continued the exchange of goods between Jewish merchants from the Orient and the Occident. The Moldavian princes found it necessary to set up customs stations in these settlements in order that a part of the imported goods were set aside for domestic use.

In the 15th century, a brisk trade through Bukovina and Moldavia could be observed. The Moldavian prince, Alexander the Good (1400-1432) who was a vassal of the Polish king Wladislaw Jagiello (1386-1484) closed a contract on October 8, 1408 with Lemberger merchants, Ruthenians, Tartars, Armenians, but chiefly Jews, an alliance contract, according to which he gave these merchants free access to the Moldavian roads for through travel. This prince had issued special regulations for the Jews in Moldavia5.

The main artery of traffic led from Prague, Krakow, Lemberg, Luck and Wladimir-Wolynsk over Sniatyn to Czernowitz where it divided into two branches: one along the Pruth valley away from Czernowitz to Stefanesti, and from there to Iasy, Bender (Tighina) and from there to Kaffa (Theodosia), the main trading center of the Genoese on the Crimean Peninsula. A second trade road led from Czernowitz over Siret to Suceava, the capital of the land and then along the Suceava, a tributary of the Siret to Chila (Vicostonomium). In addition to these roads coming from Poland, a trade route from Siebenbuergen ran to Bukovina.

This road started in the city of Bistritz (in Siebenbuergen), ran through Vama, a Romanian customs station in South Bukovina and then over Suceava to the harbors of the Black Sea.

These Bukovina caravan roads, became all the more important in the following period, since the Tartar Road which ran along the courses of the Dniester nd Dnieper Rivers became uncertain after the conquest of the Black Sea harbors by the Turks and traveling on this road was fraught with great danger.

The significance of Bukovina as a “transit” region became all the more important in this period, since Suceava became the capital and residence city of the mightiest Moldavian prince, Stephan the Great (1447-1504). This ruler maintained good relations with leading Jewish figures. He received at his court, the Jewish ambassador from the Shah of Persia, the doctor, Isac Beg who offered him a military alliance with his government against the Turks. Likewise, his personal doctor, Menghli Ghirai was a Jew.

For the presence of Jewish settlements in Moldavia, including Bukovina at the beginning of the 15th century testifies a report, according to which, the Lithuanian ambassador, Bogusch bought the freedom of a Lithuanian noblewoman for 120 ducats from a Moldavian Jew. The Jew had ransomed the noblewoman from captivity by the Tartars for a similar sum.

An ordinance issued in the year 1613 by Prince Stefan Tomsa (1611-1616) described a new trade road that led out of Poland, through Czernowitz and from there followed a route through Hotin, Soroca and Bender to Akkerman. From this we can see that already in the 17th century, Czernowitz was a goods storage place, where caravans would stop to rest before they continued on the difficult danger filled route to Hotin. They had to carefully follow the prescribed route if they wanted to be assured of protection by the prince.

Without doubt, there was already a Jewish settlement in Czernowitz at this time. This can be deducted from a report by the Polish chronicler, Martin Bielski from the year 1540, according to which, Jewish converts, fleeing from persecution by the Polish church found refuge with Jews in Moldavia. This report is made more creditable by the fact that in Poland under the influence of the counter-reformation, the sects of the Arianer and the Sozinianer saw in Christ, a Jewish prophet. Actually, rumors were spreading in Krakow that Jews were seeking converts and that Christians were secretly converting to Judaism.

About the middle of the 15th century, great world political events took place, which had an important influence on the development and nature of the Moldavian Jews. With the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Turkish sphere of influence spread by steps over the entire Balkans. The great Genoese commercial cities were conquered by the Turks and in the following period, Moldavia was also occupied. Next, this land got its own prince who was selected by the boyars6, but had to be confirmed by the Porte7.

In the course of time the throne of Moldavia was purchased from the Porte by foreign “pretenders to the crown.” These were mainly Greeks who lived in Phanar (Lighthouse), a suburb of Constantinople and came forward as the highest bidders for the Moldavian throne. They were called “Phanariots” after their dwelling place. In Constantinople itself, lived important Jewish figures during this era, who had access to the Turkish court and a not insignificant influence on the finances of the Porte and sometimes were able to have influence in who got the throne in Moldavia.

Under these circumstances, it is clear that the Jews in Moldavia, in a certain sense were protégées of the Jewish financiers in Constantinople with whom they carried on a close business connection. Jewish merchants from Turkey did business in Moldavia and used Moldavian freight carriers to transport their goods to Poland. The progress of the Moldavian Jews was especially favorable during the period Don Josef of Naxos had a significant influence on the court of Suleimans II, (1524-1574) which went so far, that in 1571, he received the throne of Walachia as compensation for the damage done by the Venetians to his islands. Even though he had the Sultan's agreement for it, he made no use of it, but remained in Constantinople, and was satisfied with the duty free importation of wine from Romania to Constantinople, granted to him by the Porte.

The business of the Turkish Jews received a heavy blow during the regime of Mihai Viteazuls (1593-1601) who rebelled against the Turkish upper classes and attempted to unite Walachia, Moldavia and Siebenbürgen8. His soldiers massacred both Turkish and Jewish merchants and drove the Jews of Bucharest into a synagogue and set it on fire (1594). Also at this time in Moldavia, there were riots against the Jews in which numerous Jewish merchants from Turkey were murdered. This criminal activity was enough to keep Turkish merchants in the future from entering Moldavian territory. Thus, at the beginning of the 16th century, the Turkish-Moldavian business connection was broken off.

In contrast to this, Jewish trade with Poland developed further and at times was protected by the Polish kings who stood up for their Jewish subjects against the Moldavian princes in all those cases when they suffered an injustice while carrying out their business in Moldavia. The Jewish merchants from Poland were active in Moldavia, not only in the transit business, but had their own factories in the cities, with large inventories, that engaged in all branches of production. The business situation of the indigenous Jewish population was, thanks to their excellent business connections with the Turkish, Polish and Ukrainian Jews, a favorable one. They filled an important business function, as intermediaries between farmers and boyars and they were favored by the princes, since they got advantages from the Jewish trade and were able to fill the state coffers with direct and indirect taxes. In the 17th century, the wine and brandy trade was an exclusive product and business monopoly of the Jews. They even became “Royal Warrant Holders” and exported the best Romanian wine to Poland.

The Jewish merchants dealt with tobacco, cotton, rice, and foot wear, supplies for farmers, fabric and fancy goods. They also engaged in the cattle and grain businesses. In general, it can be said that there was hardly a branch of business in Moldavia in which the Jews didn't dominate. They contributed substantially to the well being of the non-Jewish population and influenced their social development. The wellbeing of the Jews in Moldavia, their wide field of business endeavors, and the relatively favorable political situation attracted Jews from neighboring lands. The immigration of Jews from the Ukraine and Poland in the 19th century was encouraged by the fact that the Moldavian princes excused them from paying taxes if they were in the position to open new businesses. It is known that in 1741, the Moldavian Prince Alexander Mavrocordat granted the Jew Avram from Poland tax freedom, since he imported valuable goods from Holland. He also gave the same advantage to the Polish Jew David, who was a silversmith. The acquisition of goods was forbidden to Jews, but Jewish converts had this right.

One can't even begin to estimate how many Jews lived in the land. From the tax register which was located in Iasi, no exact numbers can be determined, since the Jewish tax payers, for financial reasons didn't give any specific data. It is certain, however, that the Jews held a dominant position in trade and business.

The Jewish position of economic strength was severely shaken in the 17th century. In 1656, Chmielnitzki's (Cossack chief) hoards led by his son Timusch invaded the land and caused great destruction to the Moldavian population. A half year latter, the Moldavian Jews suffered another heavy blow. During the so-called “Interreguum” that began with the flight of the Moldavian Prince Dumitru Cantemir to Petersburg in 1711 and lasted until Nicolai Mavrocordat ascended to the throne (1716), the principality was temporarily occupied by enemy armies. The soldiers robbed and plundered the entire land, but especially in Iasi and it cost many Jewish lives and fortunes. The Tartars called in by the princes, received as compensation for their military aid, a free hand to plunder Iasi. Also here, Jews were the first victims of this strange military alliance.

Along with the war came disease and starvation which severely effected the Jews of the land. As was customary, the Jews were held responsible for the disaster that had befallen the land. The non-Jewish masses took Jewish lives and property to make up for the losses that they had suffered. The often repeated lies were trotted out, desecration of the Host and rituals with Christian blood.

The stream of animosity against the Jews found another expression in the regulation that forbids Jews to employ female Christian household help under the age of 30 years. The influence of the Western European “Culture and Civilization” is apparent in this ordinance. It is not uninteresting to note that the anti-Jewish movement in Moldavia grew ever stronger as the influence of the Turks grew weaker. The war that the Porte had to wage against Russia and which for the most part was turning out unsuccessful, heightened the Russian influence in Moldavia, which naturally had the effect of damaging the political and economic situation of the Jews. Moreover, the persecution of the Jews in the Ukraine by Chmielnitzki and the suppression of the Jews in Poland was not without an effect on the shaping of their situation in Moldavia. With the beginning of the 18th century started the epoch of the political disfranchisement of the Jews of this land which extended into the 20th century and temporarily ended with the signing of the Minority Treaty in 1919.

The internal organization of the Moldavian Jews was based in principal on the constitutional form of the Jewish communities in Turkey. The Jews were organized, in a certain sense, according to their professions. At the head of the Jewish community stood the Chacham Baschi, whose office was hereditary. He served as the highest Jewish authority and represented the Jews before the authorities. This organization existed since the oldest times following custom and tradition and was first codified under Prince Vasile Lupu (1634-1653) in the so-called “Pravila.” This Jewish self government was favored out of state interest and encouraged for fiscal reasons. The Jews of Moldavia got a more formal type of self government through a decree of Prince Grigore Ghica (1735-1741), who in 1741 awarded the Jewish communities of Moldavia an autonomy on the basis of which he gave the Starosten the right to collect taxes, which right “We have sold to you, in accordance with your communication, as you have drafted it, since you have created this “crupca,” for the use and aid of all the members of your community, according to your previous customs. Whoever does not hold to this custom will be judicially punished.”

The final form of the Jewish self government in Moldavia in the middle of the 18th century follows:

The Jewish communities were organized by professions or “guilds.” and had a cooperative character. Every guild (bresla or Zunft) had its own Pinkas. At the head of the Jewish community stood rabbis and Starosten who were elected by the members of the guild. The selection had to be confirmed by the Prince. The post of the spiritual leader of the whole land, the Chacham Baschi was hereditary while in contrast, the Starost had a fixed term of office. As the number of Jewish communities grew larger, the number of Starosts was increased to 3, of whom one received the title, “Rosch Medina.” This honor was first given to the Jew Mordechai in 1716. His position was a privileged one, especially favored by the prince. He didn't have to pay any taxes, was responsible for order in the Jewish community and for collecting the taxes punctually, in proportion to the wealth of the Jews and delivering them to the Royal Finance Office. The community Rabbis acted as judges in civil processes and were in charge of the registry office. The adversarial parties could appeal the rabbi's decision to the Chacham Baschi and make a final appeal to the Divan (Privy Council).

The Jewish Oath9 (“more judaico) can first be documented in judicial proceedings that took place before Jewish and non-Jewish courts during the reign of Prince Grigore Ghica (1739-1741 and Constantin Mavrocordat.

The procedure of the swearing in of a Jew, “more judaico” was practiced in Romania until the second decade of the 20th century. There are various reports from different time frames about this procedure.

The first rabbi in Moldavia who was awarded the title, “Chacham Baschi” by the Sultan in 1710 was Rabbi Bezalel Cohen. This office was hereditary until 1717 and in 1834 was finally abandoned. The income of the Jewish communities (guilds) consisted of the taxes (gabela) collected on the cattle and the poultry, part of which went to the royal treasury and part to paying for the maintenance of the synagogue, the Talmud-Torah, the rabbi, the old folks home, for the sick and the poor, to free Jewish slaves and for the support of the needy in Palestine. The Jewish “Repraesentanz” was certain of the support of the prince when collecting the taxes.

The starosts also had the right to collect “direct” taxes, but only with the consent of the prince. The constitution of the guilds (bresle) guaranteed the members the right to free, undisturbed business. Through a royal decree, Prince Constantin Racovita granted a further expansion of the power given in 1753 to Chacham Baschi Isac, the son of Bezalel. In 1764, he received the right from the new Moldavian prince to collect, in place of the “crupca,” a tax of one leu from each family head.

The Chacham Baschi and the Strosts stood in the same relationship to the Moldavian princes, as these stood to the Porte. Both purchased their privileges through regular contributions which they had to deliver to their patrons.

The political events in the lands bordering Moldavia were not without significant consequences for the Jews of this land. Jews from the Ukraine and Poland came into Moldavia.

The invasion of Jews from Poland and the Ukraine had a decided influence on the cultural and intellectual development of the Moldavian Jews. Important rabbis came along with the masses into the land and brought new methods of learning and teaching with them concerning the intensive study of the ancient scriptures and tried in the following period to achieve a deeper understanding.

The consequences of the introduction of fresh blood to the stagnant indigenous Jewish population was demonstrated by the introduction of the Polish Jewish rituals which replaced the Turkish Jewish rituals. The Jewish community was expanded on the Polish pattern by the introduction of social organizations such as “Chewra Kadishot,” “Hekdeschim,” and “Moschawot Skenim.”

The leading rabbis of this period were: Nathan Hannover, Patachia Lyder and Naftali Cohen.

Also, Chasidism found true and devoted followers among the Moldavian Jews.

In most cities of Moldavia, in this period, there were Jewish cultural centers. the Batei Midraschim and the Talmud-Torah schools. Great yeshivas which could be found in Poland and Lithuania didn't exist in Moldavia. The great masses of the Jewish population were at a low cultural level and since the beginning of the 19th century; they streamed to Hasidism which didn't demand a deep knowledge of the inherited scriptures from its adherents.

The written and business language of this period was Hebrew. The rich responsa10 literature which was connected with an active exchange of correspondence was conducted in the Hebrew language. The same language also served the merchants of the European commercial centers who conducted a rich correspondence among themselves and with their business friends in the Levant. The Polish-Jewish invasion of Moldavia brought along the Yiddish language which was spoken by the masses of the Jewish population in Moldavia. The Jewish population used this language and expressed in it all their feelings of joy and sadness, used it for their children's lullabies, for their Purim plays and used it to mourn the leaving of their sweetheart. In its later development, they made Yiddish conform in many ways to the Romanian language and the Romanian forms of expression, but in general, it kept its original rules of grammar.

Also, the influence of the Sephardic Jews on Moldavian Judaism was rather strong.

From a report by Josef Salomo Dolmedigo (1591-1655), who came from Kandia to Iasi and then traveled further to Poland, we learn that there was a thriving Jewish community in this city, at whose head stood the famous Cabalist, Salomon ben Aroya.

Also, the movement of Sabbetai Zebi and his acolyte, Jakob Frank found followers among the Moldavian Jews. In a work of the Vienna sermonizer, Dr. A. Jelinek, it is pointed out that the prophet Nathan (Gazatti) was associated with an Iasi rabbi. Also, the term “Sabbetaizwbinik” has come into common usage to signify a person who was a cheat, a hypocrite, a man whose words contradicted his deeds. Frank's movement found very little following in Bukovina.

Both movements left behind no detectable traces in the development of the Moldavian Jews.

The Responsa literature is an important source of information about the history of Jews of Moldavia in the 17th and 18th century. Although the Responsa was concerned mainly with Aguna11, this copious exchange of letters holds, nevertheless, a treasure trove of historic material about geographic, commercial-political, social and religious subjects. Often, Jewish commercial caravans passing through Bukovina were subject to attacks in which Jews lost their lives. The wives of these men in Germany, Poland and Turkey remained in a state of “Aguna” until, in a long tedious process directed by a rabbi, it could be proved by witnesses, without any doubt, that the husband had died either a natural or a violent death.

For a description of the history of the Jews in Bukovina, in a narrower sense, the sources become richer in the second half of the 17th century. We can determine this first in South Bukovina, in the Kimpolung region. According to a description by Prince Dimitrie Cantemir in his “Descriptio Moldaviae” the residents of the Kimpolung district enjoyed special privileges and a certain amount of self government. One spoke in documents of the little republic “Vatra Campulungui” whose residents had a sort of preferred position. According to the description by Dimitrie Cantemir, this district encompassed 15 villages under the administration of Kimpolung. The seat of justice (Scaunul de Judecata) was located here as was the residence of the governor appointed by the Wojwod. Here also, the whole administrative apparatus was to be found. From here were issued all the decrees and orders for the district. This autonomy was partially maintained even after the annexation of Bukovina by Austria in 1775.

The oldest source we have available to us and which points to the existence of Jewish settlements in Bukovina originates from the year 1684. It is a contract that was written in the house of Meir the Jew and witnessed by Jews who signed using their fingerprints. This document is in the Romanian language and is written in old church Slavic script. From it, we gather that there is a good understanding among the population and that the writer of the contract also had it signed by Meir, in whose house the contract signing celebration took place. In all probability, these Jews were engaged in the liquor business.

In a second document from the year 1766 (Jan. 25) we read that the priest Andronachi together with his wife Ioana sold a small house in Kimpolung to their nephew, the son of Dumitru Burduhosul, because they couldn't live in the city any more. Many noted citizens are mentioned in the contract who stood at the top of Kimpolung society. (Socotindu noi si multi bameni de cinste si de frunte din Campulung), first of all, the priest Sandu Ilie Mandrila and other Reseschen (free farmers), among them also the Jew David who can be counted in the above mentioned category.

In a document from October 2, 1769, the farmer Toader Siul gives his daughter Catrinca his house, which is located next to the house of the Jew David in the old city, as a dowry.

Another document from the year 1709 tells of a protracted lawsuit which the Jew Cerbul (Hirsch) from Iasi brought against the Bojar from Berbesti, a village in North Bukovina on the Ceremus and which he won in the highest court. He was promised half the Bojar's farm as security which he could hold until the Bojar paid him the debt owed and confirmed by the court.

A document from 1751 concerns the complaint of the Jews of Czernowitz against the Prince Racovita because of the salt tax unjustly imposed on them. The Jews brought into evidence old privileges granted them in princely letters. These letters were “borrowed” by the Czernowitz Starosts, under the pretext of obtaining a deeper insight into the subject, and not returned. The Jews no longer had the documents to prove that they had been freed from the salt tax – “quod non est in actis, non est in mundo” – and were therefore being forced to pay it. A finding was made in favor of the Jews, who according to old custom were not required to pay the tax. This privilege concerning the non-payment of salt taxes was again confirmed through a decree issued by Prince Ioan Theodor Callimachi (1758-1761) in 1760.

The Jesuit Boscovich, who in 1762 accompanied the English envoy in Constantinople, Jaques Porter on a trip to Poland and who was forced to remain in Czernowitz for 14 days because of storms, reported that he found many Jews in the city. A document from the year 1773 reports on the Jewish community giving a building lot to the Jewish arendator12 so that he could build a house. This arendator fled with his family from Hotin, to Czernowitz where he obtained the residence privilege, to avoid the unsafe conditions caused by the Russo-Turkish war in Hotin. This document mentioned a Turkish cemetery in Czernowitz, which cleared up previously incomprehensible facts for the researcher. The old Czernowitz Jewish cemetery has wonderfully ornamented grave stones which for the most part originated from the period when Bukovina was occupied by Austria. If one wants to use these stones as a guide to the history of the Jews in Bukovina, one must place the settling of the Jews in Czernowitz in the middle of the 18th century.

The fact that there was an old Turkish cemetery in Czernowitz lets one come to the conclusion that we are dealing with the oldest Jewish cemetery in Czernowitz and it was only called “Turkish” because it originated during the period of the Turkish occupation. Its situation in the center of the Jewish quarter confirms the previous assertion. Moreover, no documents mention a Turkish settlement in Czernowitz. Also, it can't be a Turkish military cemetery since it can be proved that no military actions took place and no Turkish soldiers were stationed in this area. Unfortunately, no excavations were made in this cemetery, so no important historical material was brought to light.

In this connection, it should also be pointed out that there were Jews living in Czernowitz who in their petitions to the officials, signed in Turkish, the only language which they were able to speak and write. One such document has been preserved for us. From a paper originating in 1774, we learn that the Jews sent a petition to the Divan ad hoc (Privy Council) in Iasi requesting permission to rebuild the synagogue that had been burn down by the Kaiser's Russian Army. The Divan ad hoc13 considered this petition and gave the Jews permission to rebuild their synagogue. It had to be built in the same dimensions and in the same place that as the old one. The starost was made responsible for fulfilling these requirements.

For the historical development of the Jews in Bukovina, the year 1774 marked a turning point of crucial significance. This region, in accordance with the Treaty of Constantinople of May 7, 1775, became part of the Austrian Empire.


1) Transylvania: Transylvania is a historic area. It was part of the Roman province of Dacia after 107. It is bounded by the Transylvanian Alps and the Carpathian Mountains. It is the north-west part of modern Romania. The German immigrants who lived there used to call it Siebenbuergen. Romania finally took it over from the Hungarians after World War I. Return

2) Szekler: Ethnic group in Transylvania similar to the Magyars, now just about absorbed by the Romanians. Return

3) Vojvoden (Wojwoden): Some kind of Romanian nobleman. Return

4) Books: Description of Moldavia and Walachia and History of Bukovina Return

5) Moldavia: Moldavia was a principality created in the Middle Ages. It doesn't exist as a political entity anymore. It more or less occupied the north-east corner of modern Romania. It extended from the Carpathian Mountains to the Prut River and at times extended as far east as the Dniester River (area now occupied by the country of Moldova). Moldavia used to be know as Moldava or Moldau, the words originating from the Old German “Molde” meaning “open pit mine.”Return

6) Boyars: A boyar was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Ruthenian and Romanian aristocracy, second only to the ruling princes, from the 10th through the 17th century. Return

7) Porte: The term used in diplomatic circles to refer to the Ottoman Empire. Return

8) Moldavia, Walachia and Siebenbürgen: This is more or less modern Romania. Return

9) Jewish oath: Author's note: Rabbi Dr. Jakob Nacht, for the first time, opened the fight against the Jewish oath (more judaico) at the Iasi congress of Jewish communities in 1901. He was the chairman at this congress and developed the guidelines for the future fight. In the city of Fokschany, where, since 1900 he was rabbi, he categorically refused as rabbi to cooperate with the administering of the denigrating Jewish oath (more judaico) and in a hard political fight, pushed a measure through the Tribunal in Fokschany, according to which, Jews, just like non-Jews would be sworn in without use of the more judaico. Encouraged by this success, Dr. Nacht and his fellow workers, Rabbi Dr. J. Rabinovici, Rabbi Eisik Taubes and Rabbi M. L. Landu among others were able to in 1909, get the Court of Cassation to decide that Jews would be sworn in, in the presence of a Rabbi, but without administration of the more Judaico. Also this decision was disputed and led with the help of bold front line fighters for Jewish emancipation like Dr. Adolph Stern, Moritz Wachtel and J. Brociner to a final victory in 1912. In this year, the oath “more Judaico” was finally put to rest. The following describes the administering of the more Judaico oath: The fingernails of the subject are cut off like those of a corpse and wearing the funeral shroud he is led into the synagogue where he lays down in a coffin placed before the Ark and the oath, consisting mainly of slanders and curses is spoken by the rabbi and repeated by the subject. Return

10) Responsa: Answers to specific questions of Jewish law, written by the most respected rabbis of their time. Return

11) Aguna: If a Jewish woman wants a divorce and for any reason she can't get her husband to sign and give her the bill of divorce, the woman gets stuck in a state of “suspended animation” called “aguna.” For instance if her husband drowned at sea with no witnesses, she might never get out of aguna. Return

12) Arendator: In some provinces of Russia, “one who farms the rents or revenues.” Return

13) Divan ad hoc: The Divan ad hoc is a privy council created when the Turks left Moldavia. It shared power with the prince. Return

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