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Suceava (Shotz) and its Environs
and the Jews throughout the Ages

 

Introduction

by Simcha Weissbuch

Translated by Dr. Ida Selavan Schwarcz

Edited by Benzion Fuchs

The town of Suceava in southern Bucovina, a region of Romania, lies in the valley through which the Suceava River flows. It is an ancient town. The first document in which its name is mentioned dates from 1388, when Petru Mushat was the ruler of Moldova (1375–1391). Moldova existed as an independent entity from the 14th century, and the town of Suceava was its capital until 1564. Afterwards the capital was moved to Jassy (Iashi).

 

History of the Bucovina Region

The name Bucovina first appeared in 1392. The origin of the word is Slavic. Buk means beech tree, thus the land of beech trees. In Austria it was also called Buchenland.

In 1241, after the Tatar invasion, the region came under Tatar rule, until the Hungarian King Louis I (1342–1382) drove back the Tatars and southern Bucovina was annexed to Hungary. The founder of Moldova, Bogdan I (1359–1365) conquered Bucovina from Hungary and until 1774 it belonged to Moldova and shared its fate. From 1387 up to 1497 Moldova was ruled by Poland and from 1514 it was under the rule of the Turks, remaining part of the Ottoman Empire until 1774. After the Russo–Turkish War (1768–1774) under the Constantinople Treaty, Austria annexed Bucovina, which served as a bridge between Galicia and Transylvania. The Austrian Habsburg dynasty controlled Bucovina for 144 years (1774–1918).

During the first years of Austrian rule in Bucovina (1774–1848) the economic condition of the Jews was difficult. Joining with Galicia in 1787 did not improve the condition of the Jews of Bucovina. The revolution of 1848 opened the Jews the era of Emancipation and thus began the “Golden Era” which characterized the rule of Kaiser Franz Josef (1848–1916).

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The Kaiser treated the Jewish minority with sympathy and respect. The Jews received many privileges which had been denied to them until then. When Austria declared war against Serbia and Russia in August 1914, many Jewish youths volunteered to fight for the Kaiser. There were Jewish soldiers among the dead. Brothers Leib and Zusia Weitman from Suceava fought in that war and were wounded. Between 1848 and 1890, many Jews acquired German higher educations. Most Jews studied in secular German language government schools. Only a small minority continued to study in the Cheder (one room Jewish schools}. Many Jews enrolled in the university which opened in Czernowitz in 1875. In 1890 there were 65 Jewish students who constituted 24% of the total, and in 1910, there were 264 Jews, 41% of the student body.

The German language press was mostly owned and edited by Jews. The following periodicals were published: Morgenblatt, Allgemeine Zeitung, Ostjuedische Zeitung, and Bukowina Volkszeitung. Between 1919–1938 there were published the Zionist weekly Neue Juedische Rundschau, the Vorwaerts of the Bucovina Social Democrats, and in Yiddish: Di Naye Zeitung and the Arbeiter Zeitung. There were Jews in the municipal councils and in the regional parliament, as well as in the parliament in Vienna.

At the end of 1918, after World War One and 144 years of Austro–Hungarian rule, Bucovina was returned to be part of Greater Romania. At the Versailles Congress of 1919, Romania was obliged to grant equal rights to all the residents of the country, as a condition of the recognition by the Allies of its annexation of Bucovina, Bessarabia, and Transylvania. Nevertheless, the government of Romania continued to violate its clear obligation to grant equal rights to Jews, even though the principle of equal rights for Jews had been written into the new Romanian constitution which was ratified on March 28, 1923.


Jewish Life in Suceava

Simcha Weissbuch

Translated by Dr. Ida Selavan Schwarcz

Edited by Benzion Fuchs

At the beginning of the 15th century, Alexandru cel Bun (1400–1432) invited Jews from Galicia and Hungary to contribute to the development of economy and trade. Another ruler, Stefan cel Mare (1457–1504) was under the care of a Jewish physician, Shmil, and sympathized with the Jews. The ruler Aron Voda (1591–1595) was of Jewish descent. Stefan Razvan, who ruled in Suceava (1595) also invited Jewish merchants to help develop trade and economy.

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At the beginning of the 17th century, Jews fled from Russia, after the tyrant Chmielnicki and his bandits destroyed hundreds of communities and killed tens of thousands of Jews. Some refugees reached Suceava and brought with them the Hassidic movement and the Yiddish language. There was an organized community by the beginning of the 18th century, headed by a rabbi in charge of matters of law, finances, and the status of citizens. Antioh Cantermir, the ruler of Moldova (1705–1707) granted the Jews the right to live in Suceava. Merchandise from Galicia or Hungary passed through Suceava on the way to the ports of the Danube River and the Black Sea.

When Bucovina was conquered by Austria in 1774, there were 50 Jewish families in Suceava (203 people, 108 men and 95 women). In 1771 the synagogue burned down and it was only in 1781 that permission was granted to build a new synagogue. In 1782, General Enzenberg ordered to expel all those Jews who had infiltrated Bucovina since 1769 without paying the annual tax of four gulden. As a result, 31 families, 90 people altogether, were expelled.

From real estate transactions records of the city of Suceava it appears that the majority of the houses in the city center belonged to Jews. One of the main streets was surnamed Judengasse and the name continued to be used unofficially until the expulsion of the Jews in October, 1941.

Representatives of the Suceava community, Leiser Yoel, David Shimshon and Efrayim Moshe actively participated in all the meetings with the representatives of all of the thirteen regions in the country. The meetings took place in the city of Czernowitz and a petition was submitted in the name of the entire Jewish population to make it possible to obtain kosher food and to confirm the leases of lands and the opening of businesses. A committee of three members of the community headed it and they were elected every three years by the members of the community in the presence of a representative of the ruler. In 1786 an attempt was made to compel the Jews to work in agriculture. The community was requested to provide five “volunteers.” These families included 12 men, seven women, 10 sons, and nine daughters and they received, besides land, five houses, five barns and storehouses, five sets of tools, 10 horses, 10 oxen and 13 cows.

In 1790 a Jewish–German secular school was founded and the first teacher was Enoch Goldenthal, who, according to the community report of June 17, 1791, fell into disgrace after having made offensive remarks towards the Jewish religion, and was replaced in 1792 by a teacher named Bally. Private Jewish one room schools (Cheiders) were supported by the community. In 1808 there were 73 Jewish families in Suceava, a number large enough to organize a community and to elect leaders who would receive the blessings of the local authorities.

The main pursuit of the Jews of Suceava was the manufacture and sale of liquor, beer, and alcohol. The owners of the beer brewery were Avraham Schaechter, Aron Barber, and Bauer. It competed with breweries belonging to Christians in Czernowitz and Suceava. They complained to the regional authority and to the organization of beer brewers, arguing that the Jewish firm did not have the necessary license for apprenticeship. Thus, in 1802, the Jewish brewery was shut down. It was also ruled that Jews could only open a buffet in Suceava and they were heavily taxed, as were all the Jews in the country. In 1817 there were 272 Jewish families in Suceava and environs and because of the heavy taxation they were often in arrears.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the members of the elected board were Hersh Barber, Feivish Hatner, Solomon Rohrlich, Yuda Kraemer and Yosl Bandel. The religion teacher, Natan Goldstein, was supposed to stay until the end of October 1810, but he stayed on until 1821. On September 21, 1821, he received a license from the regional authority to grant divorces to Jewish couples if one of the pair had converted to Christianity.

The Jewish population of Suceava continued to grow after 1841 and by the end of 1880, out of 10,104 residents, 3,750 (37.1%) were Jews. The number of Jewish pupils also grew proportionately. In the district of Suceava in 1871 there were 28 Jewish boys (3.3%) and 39 girls (12.5%). In 1875 there were 34 boys (3.5%) and 40 girls (9.4%) and in 1889 there were 75 boys (7.2%) and 282 girls (24.6%). In the private schools there were only 10 girls in 1871, and in 1880, one boy and one girl. Suceava was always a center for intellectuals and before Bucovina was annexed by Romania, there were many merchants and few artisans. The Jewish populace was very active and played a significant role in public life.

In 1901 there were 6,787 Jews in Suceava, and another 1,500 Jews in the entire district. In 1914 there were already 8,000 Jews but only 900 of them paid taxes to the Jewish community. The Chairman of the Board of the community at that time was Attorney Dr. Adolf Finkler, and his Vice Chairman was Samuel Hellmann. The members of the Board were Carl Scherzer, Attorney Dr. Leo Bogen, Dr Ya'akov Kraemer, the city doctor, and Ben–Zion Fraenkel. Dr. Avraham Levi officiated as rabbi and Leo Moscovici as religious court judge. The secretary of the community was Solomon Gottesman. Religion teacher was Bernhard Fraenkel, the Cantor was Avraham Hitman, and the teachers in the Talmud Torah were A.M. Rosenstrauch and S.M. Kupferberg. The community budget was 100,000 Kronen. In 1930 there were 3,522 Jews in Suceava, comprising 20.7% of the population.


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Zionist, Cultural, and Sport Organizations

Simcha Weissbuch

Translated by Dr. Ida Selavan Schwarcz

Edited by Benzion Fuchs

The Zionist movement in Suceava was founded at the end of the 19th century. It was very influential in the lives of the Jews in the city. It sent Max Ellenbogen and Yishayahu Langer as delegates to the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897. In 1908 there was a conference in Suceava of all the Zionist organizations in Bucovina. In 1906 “Po'alei Zion” was founded. One of its leaders was Dr. Meir Teich. In addition to organizations such as “Hovevei Zion” and “Theodor Herzl”, “Tikva” and “Mada” were active in academic institutions. There were also active branches of Keren Kayemet Le–Yisrael and Keren Hayesod.

Among the founders of “Hatikva” were Dr. Yosef Ellenbogen (died in London in 1905), Dr. Simon Holdengraeber, Dr. Adolf Gabor (died in Shargorod in 1941), Dr. Meir Teich, Dr. Erich Lupul, Dr. Wilhelm Lupul, Alfonse Kraemer, Dr. Adolf Wagner, Eng. Heinrich Gruenseid, Dr. Phavus Tuttenauer, Hayim Gudvald, Dr. Max Schwarz, Dr. Heinrich Marcovici, Shaya Becker, Dr. Yosef Halperin, Prof. Jancu Gabor, Prof. Natan Dalfen, Dr. Perez Strominger, Dr. Solomon Wagner, and Dr. M. Berger.

Other members were Fritz Gruenseid, Prof. Philip Rohrlich, Prof. Brauner, Prof. Isidor Klueger, Dr. Shaul Klueger, Dr. Kalman Tarter, Adv. S. Menkes, Shlomo Bari, Prof. Waldman, Lucian Solomovici, Adv. Erich Lesner, Jean Hammer, Att. Leib, Dr. Walter Horowitz–Rohrlich, Vice Mayor (ret.) Dr. Josef Rohrlich, Att. Natan Strominger, Dentist Dr. Fuhrer, Dentist Dr. Zwilling, Judge Dr. Goldschlag, Ya'akov Katz, Att. Mark Haber, Dentist Dr. Leon Itzik, Att. Dr. B. Wagner, Att. Oslwald Weber, Ervin Weber, Dr. Heinrich Marcovici, Dr. M. Berger, Dr. Koerner, Dr. Wolf Schaerf.

The academic organiztion “Hamada” was founded by Bruno Hart, the Schiller brothers, Engineer Natan Gabor, N. Kupferberg, and others. There was as well an academic organization of the secondary school, “Zioniah” which was founded by Att. Natan Strominger, Richard Ludwig, Att. Siegfried Barber, Ya'akov oldberg, Rabbi Dr. M. Nussbaum, Shlomo Weissbrod, Erich Lesner, Gustav Schaechter, Poldi Schaechter, and Att. Lucian Salomovici.

From 1903 there was active women's Zionist movement –“Ruth.” There were also women organizations such as WIZO, under the leadership of: Dr. Teich, Sabina Gottesman, Jetty Fuchs (later Koerner), and Blanca Isolis, and the OSE[1], that concerned itself with the health of poor children, with the support of the community, and Hadassah, under the leadership of Ernestina Albrecht. All these individuals served on a voluntary basis.

 

Communal workers of the Keren Kayemet le–Yisrael in Suceava
Standing, right to left: Dunyu Dickmann, ???, Dr. Gabor, Dr. Leib Schapira, Loebel, Dr. Meir Teich, Hersch Fuchs, Leon Glueckmann
Seated: Riegler, Sabina Hausvater, Anna Teich, ???, Jetty Fuchs, Sabina Gottesman

 

In the Socialist organization, the Bund (founded in Russia in 1897), there was a nucleus of Jews of Suceava. Most of the members of the Social Democratic Party were Jews. The Chairman was Att. Baruch Schaefer and among its leading members were Leib Rotkopf, Martin Haas, Isaac Rotkopf, Shmil Zentner, Z. Hilsenrat, Iso Tein, Berl Denker, Sender Kern, Shloyme Freier, Blaustein, Klein, Bernhard Kern. The Bund cooperated with the Social Democratic Party. It founded the first Jewish workers' union and organized lectures and courses. There were courses in Yiddish, Marxism, and the workers' movement. Among the outstanding members of the Bund were Shmuel Zentner, Berl Denker, B. Waldman, M. Popik and Gimpl Strominger who died in Transnistria.

As was mentioned, among the Zionist organizations was the “Po'alei Zion” among whose founders were Dr. Meir Teich, Josef Beiner, Zwilling, Moshe and Max Gruenseid, Fishl Tulpan, Leiser Gottlieb, Hersh Vogel and Benyamin Tennenhaus.

The drama circle of the “Po'alei Zion” presented theatrical performances to Jewish audiences. The actors were the talented Leon Altkopf, Miriam Tennenhaus, Dora Fuchs, Schwarz–Fuhrer, Spiegelschulz, Frenkel–Bercovici, Alter Becker, and others. They performed plays by Sholem Aleichem, Y.L. Peretz, An–sky, and others. The ”Ze'irei Zion” was founded by Hersh Kahn, Jeannette Rudich, David Dieckmann, Norbert Deutsch, Zunyo Kamfer and Ethel Koenig–Deutsch. They had a theatrical troupe and a library named for Gordon. In “Ha–Shomer ha–Za'ir” the Chairman was M. Schapira who succeeded Leiser Grossman. The other members were Eng. Neumann, Dr. David Loebel, Muliu Reif, Heinrich Zwilling, Josef Kahn, Dr. Phoebus Kahn, Mrs. Sally Oberwaeger–Auerbach, Mrs. Zibner Pistiner, Mrs. Spiegel–Schapira, Eng. Wilhelm Storfer, Eng. Makitra, and Louis Kahn. There was also the “Mizrachi” with Y. Tarter, H.L. Rosenblatt, P. Wagner, and Schwarz. There were General Zionists with Dr. A. Gabor, Dr. Fuhrer and Dr. H. Kupferberg.

 

The Ihud Committee, Tishrei 2, [5]708 [September 16, 1947]
Leaders of the Ihud Party

 

In the area of culture one should mention the Yiddish opera, initiated by Dr. Wolf Schaerf, with members Dr. Libi Schaerf (well known cardiologist in Israel before his death), Coca Tennenbaum–Goldstein, Rica Barber–Wijnizer, Rica Schlaefer–Hermann, and others. Among the musicians who concertized were Dr. Josef Halpern, the former principal of the Jewish gymanzie [secondary school] in Cuceava, Leo Reiner, Mrs. Schapira–Soba, and Isidor Kahn (who was also known in Bucharest). We should also mention the music teachers Spielman, Zwilling, Glazer and Max Glueckmann. Also appearing on stage were artists like Dina Koenig, Sidi Tal, Sevila Pastor, and Alexander Moise and the Willner Troupe with Paul Baratov, performing plays like The Dybbuk, Tuvia the Milkman, and Kuni Lemel.

 

Translator's footnote:

  1. OSE stands for Oevre de Secours aux Enfants. It was founded in St. Petersburg in 1912 to help needy Jews.


The Revisionist Movement & Beitar

by Simcha Weissbuch
(according to the late Dr. Adolf Weitmann)

Translated by Moshe Devere

One of the consequences of the harsh policy of British Mandatory power after the 1920 San-Remo Conference, which severely restricted immigration, was the strengthening and intensification of the

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Revisionist movement, whose flag proclaimed uncompromising struggle against this perverse policy. This was reflected in the rise of the number of young people, most of them from Beitar, who already in 1932, served as the spearhead [for illegal emigration?].

In 1928, the Revisionist Zionist Movement of Romania held its first conference in Czernowitz. Although there were no cohesive organizations in Eretz [Israel], there were groups of proponents of this movement in Bucovina who supported Ze'ev Jabotinsky's views. Suceava's representative to the conference was Rica Barber-Vizhnitzer, and elected National Chairman, Avraham Feller, who met Jabotinsky at the Congress held in Vienna in August 1925.

In 1930, Beitar of Suceava was founded with a representative of the Hebronia Student Organization from Czernowitz, Tsino Weisbrod and two representatives on behalf of Beitar of Rădăuţi. The nucleus [group] included Israel Blackman-Abush, Dov Bogen, Friedel Bogen, Ḥaim Fischler, Jacob Fischler and others. That year, Bouma Blei, Adolf Weitmann and others joined. Bouma Blei became the first ken [branch] commander of Beitar Suceava. The ken [branch] began activity in private apartments and later moved to the Jewish Community House.

Hundreds of boys and girls were members of Beitar over the years. They were divided into “Bundles.” So, for example, a Bundle of girls was called “Sarah Chizick,” and the boys: “Tel-Ḥai.” So was the movement's gesture in memory of the place where Trumpeldor fell on 11 Adar, 5680 (March 1, 1920). Extensive activities in each Bundle included learning the Hebrew language, the history of the Jewish People, Zionist ideology and knowledge of Eretz [Israel]. The Revisionist Zionist Alliance and Beitar organized meetings in Suceava and public trials. Among adult devotees of Jabotinsky's Revisionist teachings, we should note the Chairman, Dr. N. Wijnipolski, S. Goldberg, Adv. Z. Barber and his wife Rica Barber-Vizhnitzer, who both drowned in the “Struma” disaster. Dr. Wijnipolski was returned at the last minute before boarding, thus saving his life.

In Vienna in the early 1930s, the book, Untergang des Judentums (The Decline of Judaism) by Otto Heller appeared. In it the author refers to the idea that the Jewish autonomous region of Birobidzhan in eastern Siberia on the shores of the Amur River, will solve the Jewish Problem. The Beitar Movement in Suceava organized two public trials on this topic. Supporters of the Communist idea (A. Rachmut and others) confronted Revisionist Zionists from Czernowitz who attacked and ruled out the book's thesis (A. Weitmann, Dr. B. Sternberg).

Activists from abroad and from Eretz [Israel], such as Wolfgang von Weisel and Naomi von Weisel, Dr. Benzion Sternberg, also one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence, the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel on 5 Iyar 5708 (May 14, 1948); Dr. Severin Lazarovitz (who drowned in Struma), Moritz

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Geiger, and Aryeh Disenchik, one of the founders of the Beitar movement and a journalist. In 1932, Nathan Bistritzky later visited Agmon, a playwright, journalist and writer who engaged in Zionist propaganda and also raised money for the Tel-Ḥai Fund. The money collected was transferred to the foundation's representative, Yosef Tartar.

After the first commander of Beitar immigrated to Eretz Israel, Friedel Bogen, Adolf Weitmann, Ḥaim Fischler, Benjamin Weiner and others joined the movement's management one by one. Ḥaim Fischler, who came to Czernowitz, became commander of Beitar after the Red Army entered the city. He was deported by the Soviets to Siberia. The Beitar management in Bucovina district also appointed Adolf Weitmann as Suceava's representative.

The leader of Beitar's High Command organized training for several members in the Civita Vecchia Naval School. In 1934, Beitar member Zeidel Gruenberg participated. Several members trained as pioneers in immigration training centers, including A. Augenstein, A. Shaechter and others. In Beitar's 1933 Summer Colony Camp, held in Vyzhenka near Wiśnica, there were also two youths from Suceava.

In 1935, the training farm was opened in Iţcani Scheia under the leadership of Shmuel Gabor. In 1938, Beitar in Romania established a school for nurses that, after graduation, were supposed to emigrate, two of whom were from Suceava.

When Ze'ev Jabotinsky left the World Zionist Organization and founded the new Zionist organization, the Beitar movement was discriminated against and did not receive certificates for Aliyah.


The “Zionist Youth” Movement in Suceava

by Yehuda Tennenhaus

Translated by Moshe Devere

According to Freddie Shani (Roth), back in 1939, when he was in the third grade of the gymnasium, his private teacher, Friedel Bogen, told him about a youth movement called “Zionist Youth” belonging to the General Zionist stream, in which there is no obligation (and does not interfere) to be religious, and does not promote aggressive Revisionist ideas. Bogen related that he met with the board member of the Zionist Youth, Berl Shiver from Dorna, who tasked him with recruiting members for a movement that would operate underground. Friedel Bogen did indeed ask Freddie to bring friends to the movement and spoke to his two good friends Freddie (Pachko) Eidinger and Boumi Stettner, who were enthusiastic about the idea. The three of them formed the movement's first group in Suceava. The intention was to operate in small groups of 3-4 members compartmentalized from each other, taking maximum precautions. The activity amounted to reading Zionist material brought by Friedel Bogen to meetings and discussions on the subject.

The situation in Romania was getting worse. New antisemitic laws sprouted up daily, Jewish children and youth were being expelled from schools; a curfew was been imposed requiring Jews to sit at home from 5 PM and wear a yellow Star of David on their clothes. Understandably, it was not possible

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to expand the movement and it remained a small core of Zionist youth in Suceava: Boumi Stettner, Freddie Eidinger, Freddie Roth and Friedel Bogen, until deportation to Transnistria.

 

Three friends
From the right: Ariel (Freddie) Roth, Menachem (Freddie) Eidinger and Avraham (Boumi) Stettner, obm, (Suceava, 1946)

 

During the three years of exile in Transnistria, Maffi Schaerf, a member of the Movement, met with Freddie Roth and told him that elsewhere in Transnistria, Zionist youth members met and there was even a chance of receiving financial help from Bucharest. However, there was no follow-up and financial support did not arrive. When, in 1945, before returning to Suceava, Freddie Roth and Freddie Eidinger met in Mogilev and planned how to re-establish the movement; this time, no longer underground. When they arrived in Suceava, they met with Boumi, who had come home a year earlier, and Friedel Bogen, who already in 1944 had begun reorganizing the movement and gave them the leadership of the branch, which operated in the Community Center's auditorium. In their efforts to expand the movement, they found a cohesive group of friends, students of the Jewish School, also held at the Community Center, who also joined the movement. They were Emanuel (Manio) Michalovich, Meir Kostiner, Santa Altman, Simcha Weissbuch, Benzion (Boutzi) Fuchs, Martin Rosner, Yitzhak (Isio) Bessler, Israel (Bubby) Huebner, Yaacov (Yanio) Fuhrer, Yaacov (Jacqui) Strominger, Yehuda Tennenhaus and others. Together, they formed the mainstay of the new Zionist youth movement in Suceava. They handled its expansion until it reached about 50 members, becoming an important and respected movement in the city. Suceava was also then an educational center for all Bucovina, thanks to the Jewish school established in the Community Center in the city, with the aim of allowing the students to catch up on the material they had lost during the deportation. Thanks to this, many friends from other cities in the city also visited the branch because of their studies.

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The activity in the ken was varied: studying The Zionist Idea, learning the Hebrew language, geography of Eretz Israel, old and new Hebrew songs, dancing, scouting and hiking in the surrounding area.

 

The Havazelet Group in the Zionist Youth branch
From the right: Lenny Shapira, Simcha Weissbuch, Sasha Merdler, Leon Singer,?, Britty Rubin, Erich Segal, Sunny Wax, Meir Kostiner, Jetti Lederman

 

The Abba Berdichev Group in the Zionist Youth branch
From the right: Standing: Icky Shaechter, Litzy Weiner, Hilda Frankel, Lala Genzler, Benzion Fuchs;
Sitting: Ericha Wagner, Pearly Schnarch, Biette Haber, Santa Altman

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Typical of our movement's branch was its human composition: Almost all the members were educated boys and girls, and there were hardly any who did not study. Activities were by age groups and divided accordingly, a group of trainees [lit. listeners] (up to the age of 12) under the guidance of Rachel (Lala) Genzler (later Kostiner). The Abba Berdichev Group, first under the guidance of Santa Altman; after she went to the training farm, under the guidance of Benzion Fuchs. The Havazelet Group, led by Meir Kostiner and Simcha Weissbuch and the Carmel Group (composed only of boys) under the guidance of Manio Michalovich and Yehuda Tennenhaus.

 

The Carmel Group in the Zionist Youth branch

From the right: Standing: Yehuda Tennenhaus, Lexi Neuberger, Akhim Hofmeier, Manio Michalovich;
Sitting: Ichio Saldinger, Jacqui Strominger, Bobby Huebner, Richard Bloom

 

The Zionist Youth Branch Leadership (1946)
From the right: Simcha Weissbuch, Meir Kostiner, Yehuda Tennenhaus

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Activities took place twice a week on weekdays and every Saturday afternoon from 14:00 until evening. The Oneg Shabbat included readings in Yiddish and Romanian, songs and dances. Activities were also held during the holidays, a lecture on the meaning of the holiday besides the entertainment program. During Hanukkah they used to have a celebration in the evening for friends where we ate potato-filled kreplach. But one of them was filled with feathers and served as a joke on the one who got it. Of course, we made trips to the Citadel, to Zemka and to Burdujeni Forest. In winter when it got dark early, we would accompany homes those [girl] trainees who lived far away.

After a while, we had to leave the branch in the Community Center but we received a room in the Talmud Torah. There, lessons ended at 18:00, after which we had additional rooms to use. The ken was decorated with pictures of Herzl and Weizmann, posters with Zionist content made by our friend Martin Rosner; an artist in this area as well. There were also wall newspapers. The Carmel Group had a magnificent wall newspaper with respectable content as well. Its frame was made by a craftsman.

At the national elections for the Zionist leadership, our members were very active for the Hat'ḥiya (Renaşterea) and the Zionist Worker lists. We also worked for KKL-JNF through fundraisers we sent to weddings to collect donations. Also, for Keren Hayesod: our friends visited Jewish stores and collected money.

In the summer, the national movement held a summer camp where members from all over the country gathered. Our ken was charged with organizing the trip to the summer camp of 1946, called the “Forging Camp” held in “Vadu Crişului.” It was also called the “Camp of the Millennium.” We had to take care of transportation for the branches from Bucovina, Fălticeni and Botoşani. The ride was in freight cars. We filled two cars and took care that at the main stations we would be put on faster trains. Even so, the trip took several days. The camp was in the Transylvania mountains on the edge of a 4 km-long stream that flowed out of a cave. The water was ice cold and was used for drinking, cooking and cooling watermelons. The lodging was in tents or an abandoned house, once used as a cabin for hunters but now it was without doors or windows. We grabbed a room and a large balcony: the room for the girls and the balcony for the boys. We participated in hikes and all kinds of scout games such as Capture the Flag and more.

The trip home was an affair in itself. It took six days and we were all crowded into one [freight] car. The trainees and girls were inside the car. The boys rode on the roofs of the freight cars and on the steps of the cars. The main thing was, we got home safely and full of experiences.

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In 1947, the camp was in Dorna Candrenilor, and in the middle, the Romanian government announced a devaluation and change of banknotes. We received new money in Suceava from Bucharest by sending Coca Fallenbaum on behalf of Hechalutz; rented trucks from Shloime (Shlomo) from Suceava, to return the comrades to Dorna and from there they continued by train to their homes. The movement also held seminars and meetings in Rădăuţi, Botoşani and Colentina, also attended by members from our ken.

One of the great projects in our ken was presenting a play called “The Ash Man” in a theater attended by many of our friends. The lead role was played by Boumi Stettner OBM. It was a great success and we also presented it in Burdujeni and Fălticeni.

Contact with the main leadership in Bucharest was through circulars, letters and visits by the leadership. In the ken, Itzio Herzig (later Artzi), Berl Schieber, Tutyo Yablonover (may he live long), and the emissary from Eretz [Israel], the late Yehuda Sha'ari, also visited our ken. For a while, the leadership sent messengers to counsel and supervise the activity. Mozzie Ribenson, Ikki Shaechter, Nathan Croitoru and Linzi were the emissaries who guided us.

Over time, we also had to vacate the room in the Talmud Torah. We rented 3 rooms on Petru Rareş Street, moved the ken there, and held activities there until the Zionist Movement was dismantled.

Our relationship with the General Zionists, to which we belonged, was through Dr. Fuhrer, Dr. Kupferberg, Avigdor Nussberg and Moritz Liquornik. Romanian Independence Day and on the day of liberation by the Russians, we would march as part of the general parade, as a separate department, under a blue and white flag and dressed in white shirts and dark pants. Our goal was to educate the children about Zionist values and fulfillment in Eretz [Israel]. The movement maintained training farms for this purpose, as a station before emigrating to Eretz [Israel]. Similarly, the movement supported two children's homes where children were raised under boarding-school conditions and from there they were sent to Eretz [Israel].

Our ken leadership (Boumi Stettner, Freddie Eidinger and Freddie Roth) also reached fulfillment. Meir Kostiner, Simcha Weissbuch and Yehuda Tennenhaus were chosen to lead the ken in their stead. After a period of training, the previous leadership was elected to the main leadership and, of course, on their visits home, also visited the ken. Many ken members went to the training farm and emigrated to Eretz [Israel].

Finally, it was also the turn of the new leadership to go to the training farm. And indeed, Simcha Weissbuch moved to counsel at the children's home in Dorna; Meir and Yehuda went for training at the Aiud branch and from there, Yehuda went for training at the children's home in “Gegi” , then to the Barashov branch (for the purpose of absorbing the liquidated Aiud branch), Benzion Fuchs went for training at the children's home in “Gegi” , and then to the one in Dorna.

[Page 37]

The ken in Suceava continued its activities under the leadership of Manio Michalovich and others. Our movement was well-known and a magnificent one in the city.

All this ended at the end of 1948, when the Romanian government banned the Zionist movement. Some activity continued underground, but eventually the entire beautiful Zionist enterprise was dismantled and the activists were ordered to find an arrangement for themselves until they emigrated to Israel. Some did manage to soon emigrate, but others were delayed for a long time. Persecutions began, the leaders were put on trial and sentenced to long prison terms and only later were most of them released and allowed to emigrate.

 

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