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[Page 37]

The Mizrahi and its movements in Mordechai

by Shaul Weidberg and Mordechai Gross, adapted by Meir Kostiner

Translated by Moshe Devere

The first association in Suceava by the “Mizrahi” Zionist Association took place during the tenure of Rabbi Moshe Ḥaim Lau OBM, HYD, a strong supporter of The Zionist Idea. The late Meir Gross told his son Mordechai that a Jewish soldier who remained in Schotz after World War I (1918), gathered young people in the Tailors' Synagogue (Schneidrisha Shiel) and told them about The Zionist Idea. Under the slogan, “The Land of Israel for the People of Israel according to the Torah of Israel.” Among the founders who joined the movement were: Berl Liquornik, Shmuel Oberweger, Aharon and Hersh Gottlieb, Baruch and David Alter, Avigdor Nussbrauch, Yosef Tartar, Meir and Koppel Zwibel, Ḥaim Carten, Shlomo, Baruch and Nehemiah Kostiner, Mendel Kerzner, Hersh Leib Rosenblatt, Ḥaim and Israel Reif, Baruch and Moshe Singer, Baruch Zlotshower Alter Kostiner, Michael Wasserman, Benzion Geffner, Michal Huebner, Ḥaim Messing, Yosef Shapira, Shlomo Sternlieb and others.

A most prominent figure in the Mizrahi, before and during World War I, was Israel Shapira, a native of the city (1892). He emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1925 but continued public and partisan activities here. He was one of the founders of Kiryat Motzkin, one of its first settlers and its Local Council's first chairman.

Between 1926 and 1928, young people joined the “Torah Va'Avoda (Torah and Labor)” movement after Samuel Ḥaim Landau founded it in Poland. Among the members were: Zvi Blei, Jacob Walzer, Yonah Klieger, Maklović, Hadassah Haas, David Eisenthal, Eliezer Riegler, Baruch Shnapf, Zeinbal Fuchs, Yehuda, Zeinbel and Moshe Zollinger, Bruria Kostiner (Koppel), Yitzhak Geffner, Moshe Schwartz, Benjamin Leibendman (Lebanon), Shraga and Ḥaim Wagner, Michael Haas, Joshua Herling, Mikhlović of Bălăceana, Jacob Bergman of I┼úcani, Suessman from Comăneşti and others. Later, in 1930, The youth joined the “Torah and Labor - Hashomer Hadati” movement,

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among them Bouma Blei, Shaul, Jacob and Ḥaim Leib Weidberg, Mordechai Faism of Bălăceana, Leizer Geffner, Shlomo Schtekel, Jacob Fuhrer, Gedalia Gruenberg HaCohen, Shlomo Dovidovici (died at a young age in 1932), Yehoshua Saldinger, Isaiah and Aharon Neumann, Aharon, Uri and Sarah Carten, Leibish Gruenberg, Motel Silber, Simcha Marianne, Yehuda Walzer, Ḥaya Michalovitz, Shulamit Mergler, Rachel Berl, Hannah Augenstein, Deborah and Gusta Weindish, Mendel, Sally and Shlomo Meir, Eidel Haas, Shlomo Craimer, Bobby Tabak, Feivel and Mendel Donenfeld, Tzipi Druckman, Sarah Shaechter, Kehat Flick. The movement's leader was Alter Yehudah Cohen.


The Torah Va'Avoda ken in Suceava


In 1930, at the initiative of members Jacob Weidberg, Moshe Zollinger, Israel Rosner and Mandel Meir, the Bnei Akiva movement was established. The members were Kalman Avraham, Israel Schumann, the Kerzner brothers, Menashe and Avraham Haas, Shimon Rudich, Kalman, Zalman and Shmuel Shaechter, Sioma Tartar, Leib Geffner and others. The women's activity took place as part of an organization called “Ruth” under the direction of Mrs. Roekhenstein.

The activity in the various branches was supported by emissaries from Eretz Israel who occasionally came to Schotz. They helped organize, explain and distribute Eretz [Israel] culture, songs and experience. Among the emissaries was the memorable Rabbi Yehuda Leib Maimon OBM who lectured on the settlement of Eretz Israel, Nathan Bistritzky, Nahum Nardi, S.Z. Shragai. Rabbi Meshulam Roth, OBM, who served as city rabbi,

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was himself an avid Zionist (Mizrahi) who visited the movement's branches and encouraged the activists to campaign for Eretz Israel. The Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Baruch Hager OBM, HYD, directed Mizrahi activities throughout Bucovina.

Mordechai Gross found in the archives of Bar–Ilan University that during Tevet 1929, a conference of Mizrahi Youth in Czernowitz was held with the participation of representatives from Schotz: Israel Reif, Koppel Zwibel, Bruria Kostiner.


Members of Bnei Akiva Branch, 1946


The Mizrahi Conference in Czernowitz in 1933 was attended by Schotz' representatives brothers Baruch and David Alter, Ḥaim and Deborah Wagner, Jacob Walzer, Eliezer Feivel Meir, Koppel Zwibel, Bruria Kostiner, Israel Reif, Eliezer Riegler, Yosef Shapira, Baruch Shnapf.

The organizations' activities focused on Zionist information and education, collecting funds for KKL-JNF and Keren Hayesod, and especially for training pioneers and sending them to Eretz Israel. It was very difficult to get immigration Certificates. The English reduced immigration licenses and for every 100 pioneers who wanted to emigrate only 10 received them. The pioneers' lives were vibrant with their aspiration to emigrate to Eretz Israel. In 1928, we know of 15-member training group who worked in agriculture in the fields of Comăneşti and Bălăceana, while those in Schotz took carpentry courses. In 1932,

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Kibbutz Hachsharah was in Todireşti, and from there Shraga and Ḥaim Wagner, Joshua and Moshe Zollinger, Michael Haas, Mandel and Bruria Koppel (Kostiner) and Mordechai Faism from Bălăceana emigrated to Israel. In 1933, Jacob Weidberg and Moshe Schwartz emigrated to Eretz Israel. In Eretz [Israel], among the founders of Sde Yaakov was David Eisenthal, from the village of Marzi near Schotz.

Shaul Widberg himself went to the training farm in 5695 (1935). In the summer, they worked in agriculture with a Jewish manor owner near Czernowitz but during the winter, the kibbutz was in Schotz. He emigrated to Israel in 1941 on the SS Dorian II, about six months before the deportation to Transnistria. The 900 immigrants spent three months at sea, were caught by the English, imprisoned for six months in the Mizra'a camp near Acre, and then a year in the Atlit camp.

The tragic deportation to Transnistria ended the beautiful and extensive activity of religious Zionism in Schotz, but resuming after returning from deportation.

(A note from the Editorial Board: Chapters on the activities of the youth movements; Beitar, The Zionist Youth and Bnei Akiva, in Schotz after the deportation, can also be found in articles by those who wrote about the movements as they viewed them.

Aliyah to Palestine before the War

by Simcha Weissbuch

Translated by Moshe Devere

The pioneering Zionist activity in Suceava gained momentum and many young people emigrated to Eretz Israel, some of them after undergoing training. In 1932, five Beitar members, including Bobby and Munio Tennenbaum of Suceava and Erlich (from Ilichishti), bicycled overland through Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Likewise, Coca Tennenbaum, A. Augenstein, W. Heller, Benjamin Weiner, Albert Beck, Bouma Blei, Maltzia Blei, Hanzi and Dov Beck, Jetti Rosenblatt, Rosenthal and others also emigrated. Grossman the locksmith and Engineer Dickmann emigrated on behalf of Hashomer Hatzair. From Mizrahi B. Geffner, Gruenberg with his family, W. Fuhrer, B. Goldstein, Riegler and others emigrated. Likewise, Erich Klopfer studied agriculture at the Hebrew University for a period before returning to Romania. Jacob Fuhrer of Suceava emigrated as a pioneer, died of tuberculosis in 1942, and was buried in Safed.

Although the number of applications for immigration had increased, the Mandatory ruler granted only a few immigration certificates (as they were then called). Even before Hitler came to power, many wanted to emigrate from Romania and, especially before their deportation to Transnistria. The hypocritical policy of the White Paper greatly halted their emigration and so many Jews of Suceava could not emigrate, and were left to face the bitter fate of deportation.

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Jewish Sport Activity in Suceava

by Simcha Weissbuch

Translated by Moshe Devere

In 1912, the “Force” (Hakoaḥ) organization was founded by Dr. Adolf Wagner, with soccer and handball teams. And in 1928, the “Eternity” (Hanetzaḥ) sport club was inaugurated. In the same year, the Maccabi club was also inaugurated with sport teams for women's football, gymnastics and handball. Athletes from many cities participated in the Maccabiada organized in Suceava. The most prominent and active members of the organization were R. Shlefer, J. Rosenberg, B. Weitmann, and others. In table tennis, the excellent Freddie Horowitz and another talented player, Z. Blaustein, should be noted.

The most popular sport among the Jews of Suceava was undoubtedly the game of kings, chess. The city's champion was Israel Huebner, who participated twice as semifinalist in the State Championships, in Bucharest (1955) and Iaşi [Jassy (Iashi)] (1956) [1st instance is Romanian; 2nd as in web document, p23], with excellent results. He even once defeated international master Dolfi Drimer, later Rector of the University of Bucharest. Other talented chess players were Dr. Tartar, Ze'ev Heller, Z. Genzler and Kopalovitcz.


Zunio Genzler


Jews and Various Parties in Suceava

by Simcha Weissbuch

Translated by Moshe Devere


The Communist Party

Although this party was banned in Romania from 1922, there was a communist group in Suceava between the two wars. Nearly 90% of its members were Jews who thought that communism

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would solve the world's problems, even that of the Jews. Early in the 1940s, C. Argentoianu, a Romanian politician, declared: “Not all Jews are Communists, but all Communists are Jews.” This statement was not an exaggeration for Suceava. Several idealistic young men such as Izio Rachmut, A. Nussbrauch, W. Roul, and others were among some of the members sentenced to imprisonment (Tuvia Hilsenrat). Others were imprisoned in camps (Izio Rachmut) or sent to the infamous Wafniarca Camp in Transnistria, where, among other things, they became paralyzed (B. Katz) after eating peas meant for animal feed. There were those who perished in the Doftana Prison when it collapsed during the earthquake on the night of November 9-10, 1940 (H. Weidenfeld, Lieberman).

Other young Communists went to Spain to fight in the Popular Front (Silberbusch, Isio Shapira). Around May 1, apartments were searched and arrests were carried out, such as at Doamna Maria High School for girls, when a security service officer (Isar), the choir conductor, deliberately inserted excerpts from The International, and then accused Jewish students of singing this melody. As a result, an indictment (E. Shlefer, Z. Shapira and others) was filed, which ended in extortion of money. In another case, a search carried out in the attic of a Jew “found” a red flag. The homeowner and his three sons were placed before a military court (A. Bogen Sr. and his sons P. Bogen, B. Bogen and Z. Bogen). Likewise, guns were “found” in the warehouses of S. Klieger and B. Shapira. It ended with a heavy payoff.


The Social-Democratic Party

Some Jews were active in this party, which played an important role in the social and cultural life of the Jewish residents. The party chairman was Advocate Dr. Baruch Schaffer. Among its prominent members were Leib and Isaac Rothkopf, Adv. Z. Schor, Martin Haas, Shmiel Tzentner, Z. Hilsenrat, Izio Tien, Berl Denker, Sender and Bernhard Keren, who was also the bookkeeper, Shloime Freir, Blaustein and Klein.

Dr. Schaffer also served as the mayor before World War I. At his initiative, the power plant was built in 1911, and the city was also wired. Only a few were members of the two historic parties: the National Agricultural and Liberal parties.


The “League for the Protection of the Christian Nation”

This party (of A.K. Cosa) had a distinctly antisemitic policy. In Suceava Province, the party was headed by two professors at Ştefan cel Mare High School.

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Of the five MPs the party received in the election, one was from Suceava: Prof. J. Karlen. Suceava also had a Kozist senator, again a professor at the same high school: Polocuşeru. The Jewish students suffered a great deal from these professors. They made it difficult for them to pass the exams; it was their goal to fail them.


The Jewish Party

In the May 1926 Parliamentary Elections, Dr. Meir Ebner was elected as a representative and Dr. Klieger as a senator (both were from Czernowitz) on behalf of the historical parties.

In February 1926, the Jewish Party was founded in Bucharest, and began functioning in 1928. In 1930, because of antisemitic outbursts in Suceava, ending in looting of shops on Bosnchi Street, the Jewish Supreme Council was established, which submitted a memo to King Carol II. In the 1931 parliamentary elections, the vast majority of Suceava Jews voted for the Jewish Party, which first began functioning on May 4, 1931.

Of the 5 delegates from the party's list who entered parliament, 3 were from Bucovina. In Suceava, the party received 1368 votes in the 1931 elections; 1278 votes in 1932. The party obtained a government subsidy for student dormitories, a 75% discount on passport fees for emigrants to Eretz Israel and relief for Zionist youth movement organizations.

There was a trend among young people studying abroad to stay there after graduation, given the difficulties expected to find a job from state officials in their home country. So, Prof. Merdinger, Dr. A. Rosner, Dr. Schaffer, Glazer, Aronovici and others remained abroad.

Religious Life in Suceava

by Simcha Weissbuch and Yehuda Tennenhaus

Translated by Moshe Devere


Synagogues in Suceava

There were ten synagogues in Suceava, holding morning and evening prayer quorums. The Great Synagogue, the “Temple,” was built at the beginning of the 19th century (the cornerstone was laid by Rabbi Ḥaim Tyrer of Czernowitz). The first cantor was Menashe Maas of Russia, after which Cantor Y. Spector served as cantor and Srul (Israel) Ebner, a renowned Talmudist, as prayer leader. The Temple's custodian was Mendel Eisenberg, and the board members were Hermann Beiner (active captain in the Austrian Army), owner of the Solomon Sternlieb Leather Factory, iron merchant Shaye Langer, Mandel Bogen, Meir Rosenstock,

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Markus Khan, Isaac Gruenberg, Alter Gruenberg, Lippe Frankel, Pavel Holdengreber, and Hersh David. The Great Bet Midrash (Study Hall) was founded in 1860 by Hersh Langer and Jacob Ber Weidenfeld.

The GACH (Society for Good Deeds) Synagogue was founded in 1870, renewed in 1910, and renovated repeatedly in 1929, 1975 and 1983. The Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark) was sculpted by a local craftsman and the walls were decorated with biblical motifs by artist Nosik. Among the various prayer leaders were Asher Reicher, Yosef Glueckman, Ephraim Weissbuch, Berl Liquornik and Simcha Stettner. Of all the synagogues in Suceava, it is the only one that remains. All the other synagogues were destroyed by the Communist authorities.

The “Psalms Society” synagogue was founded by Moshe Marian, and “The Tailors' Synagogue” by Isaac Rothkopf. The Vizhnitzer Cloister was founded by Mordechai Tennenhaus and the “Sadigura” Synagogue by Mordechai Leib Schafran, Wolf Siegel and Jonas Shmalbach who donated the land. Besides these, there were the Great Bet Midrash, the Seniors' Synagogue, and those of Rabbis Hager and Moskowicz. Until the deportation of the Jews in October 1941, all the synagogues in the city were filled for the Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot holidays.

During Elul, crowds of residents gathered at the cemeteries. On Shabbat and holidays, some of them wore a streimel and caftan, and on Yom Kippur, a kittel. On Saturdays, all business stopped, most stores were closed, although there was no bylaw in place. On the eve of the High Holidays, the religious Jews would get up [early] in the morning to attend [special] slihot prayers at the synagogues. And on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (when it fell on a weekday) they went to the stream (the “Girle” at the foot of the Citadel) for the tashlikh custom where they shook out their pockets in a symbolic act of shaking off iniquities they had clung to during the past year and asked for forgiveness. On the eve of Yom Kippur, donations were collected in synagogues for the poor, and the KKL-JNF, the Tel–Ḥai Fund and more. At the end of the ne'ilah (Closing) Prayer, many families rushed to place the first board in preparation for the Sukkot (Tabernacles) Holiday, to observe the verse Go from strength to strength. On Sukkot, there was usually at least one etrog (citron) in the synagogue that came from Eretz Israel. On Simḥat Torah, during the circling [about the bima (Reading Table)], the children joined the procession carrying special flags, and the crowd went about singing and dancing with Torah scrolls.

In Suceava, there was an extensive community led by a committee that took care of the religious needs of the Jews, most of whom were traditional. The community employed [R.] Gershon Stettner as dayan [religious judge]. Also, there were ritual slaughterers: Shaechter, Ehrlich, Genut, and Nussbaum. The slaughterhouse for fowls was in the center of the city and that of animals neary the Citadel of “Ştefan Cel Mare” provided the community with kosher meat.

The community maintained a kindergarten run by kindergarten teacher Blanca Isolis and Ethel Karp–Shapira (who died in Siberia) and a Talmud Torah, held in a building donated to the community by the Vogel family

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(Itzik and Regina). They were taught ḥumash (Torah), Gemara (Talmud) and Hebrew. The teachers were Goichman, Weissbuch, Miller and Carten. There were several Talmudists in the city such as Weissbuch, Nussbrauch, Bakel, Weissberg, Rauchberger Meir, Der Poilischer (the Pole) and others. Also, there were teachers who opened “Ḥeidarim” (traditional classrooms) such as Kalchstein and those who gave private lessons such as Weissbuch, Gottlieb, Feibisch Melamed, Weissberg and Blum.

In the 1920s, the Jewish high school was recognized by the authorities. It was in a building near the Jewish Community [Center]. Under the 1925 law, the language of study was Romanian, but the teachers were mostly Jewish: N. Dalfen, Halpern, Mrs. Levy, Steinhauser, Trauner, Waldman and others.


The Jewish Kindergarten class of 1935

From the right: Top row:?,?,?, Kolber, Hanna Lerner;
Second row: Esther Lerner, Penzia Schwartz,?, Zlotshower;
Third row: Teper, Walzer, kindergarten teacher Blanca Isolis, Rum, Esther Huebner;
Seated: Mordechai Gross, Aryeh Kostiner, Bessler, Rudich,?, Zwibel


For many years, the only bathhouse (which included a mikveh) was that of the community. There were two cemeteries in the city. The old one (which closed at the end of the 19th century) and the new one, for which in 1892, a plot located opposite the Christian cemetery was designated for the Jewish community. There they found a mass grave of martyred Jews, murdered in sanctification of the Name in 1940, in Zahareşti by soldiers commanded by the criminal Captain Karp. In 1941, under the auspices of the community, their bones were disinterred and buried in the Jewish cemetery. Near this burial site, they also interred soap [bars]

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made by villainous Hitlerists, Rein Juden Fett, from murdered Jews. The graves of rabbis who served in the city are also in the New Cemetery.

Not far from the old cemetery, on a hill on the outskirts of the city shards of tombstones with Hebrew letters on them were found. On one of them you could read the name “Hannah.” Apparently, it was the oldest cemetery in the city, from the beginning of Jewish settlement. One day in the late 1960s, under Ceausescu and the Communist Party, Mr. Ephraim Weissbuch was called, as a representative of the Jewish community, to the party's residence and required to agree to pave a road that would pass through the old cemetery. Despite the pressure exerted, he rejected this demand outright, which meant desecrating the cemetery. Because of his vigorous refusal, they contacted the authorities in the capital and asked that a senior official come to decide the matter. Indeed, a few days later, a representative of the Ministry of Religions appeared in the city. After hearing the claims from both sides, he ruled that it was not required for the planned road to be laid out straight as a ruler, since there are countless bypass roads in the country.


Organizing for Mutual Assistance
  1. Institution for Charitable Deeds
    Also at the time, banks received deposits for interest and gave loans at interest, conditional on providing adequate collateral. The term “overdraft” was unknown.
    When a merchant needed short-term loan, he would turn to another merchant and ask for an act of kindness: a short-term loan without interest. Usually, he would receive the necessary amount in whole or in part, discreetly and sometimes even without a written note or document, but only because of the trust between borrower and lender. Of course, this was based on reciprocity and serves as a good example of the trust and solidarity that prevailed among most Jews in the community.
  2. Collecting money for the needy
    Another form of assistance existed when someone needed a serious amount beyond their ability, due to illness or other difficulty. An anonymous collection of the money was then organized by two respected members of the community, who would walk through the shops and ask for a donation without elaborating on who and for what it was for. The more honorable the fundraisers were, the greater the donations.
    In 1940, the community raised funds for Jews expelled from villages in the area. The city was divided into streets where the pairs of fundraisers walked along. The money collected was distributed among the needy deportees.

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Famous Rabbis

Suceava was blessed with brilliant rabbis who were born or served in the city and made their mark not only on the city, and on many Jewish communities around the world. Two of them (Rabbi Jacob Moskowicz and Rabbi Ḥaim Hager) had their own synagogues.


Rabbi Ḥaim Hager OBM

by Aryeh Ben Shlomo Kostiner

Rabbi Ḥaim Hager was the son of Rabbi Moshe Hager, who founded his court in Schotz in 1892, on Ciprian Prombescu Street. Rabbi Moshe was the grandson of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vizhnitz, known as Zemach Zadik, after his book on the Torah and holidays. The elderly of his Ḥassidim, who affectionately called him “Reb Moishele,” remember his pleasant prayer and the joy that prevailed on Saturdays and holidays. Many of the city's Jewish upper crust gathered at Rabbi Ḥaim's court with its spacious study hall. During the holidays and High Holidays, Rabbi Ḥaim, led the prayers with his pleasant voice in the original Vizhnitz version, enraptured his Ḥassidim. R. Asher Reicher, a Torah reader and an excellent prayer leader, shook the windows of the synagogue when proclaiming keter (from the cantor's responsive recital of the silent prayer) in the Sabbath and Holiday prayers. The Sternlieb and Flick families took up the entire Eastern Wall for the priestly blessing. On all three holidays, sweet-voiced Cantor R. Hersh Weisbrod, would sing the piyut (religious poem) ya eli with a choir. At the parties held at the closing of the holidays, the Admor would enrich his tisch with Torah discourses. R. Jacob Shimshon Shapira, the father of R. Meir Shapira, was already known in his youth as the “Shotz Genius,” founder of Yeshivat Ḥokhmei Lublin. The Simḥat Torah circuits were renowned for their extent and exuberance. Many residents from other synagogues came to witness and participate in the celebration with the Ḥassidim.

The city's ritual slaughterers were also among the worshippers at the study hall: R. Naḥman Shaechter, slaughterer and mohel; R. Yossl Nussboim, a pleasant-voiced prayer leader; R. Avraham Donenfeld, R. Yehoshua Genut, ritual scribe. Among the homeowners, I remember: Lezer Roekhenstein and his son Baruch, Elimelech Singer with his sons Baruch and Moses, Zeraḥ Ehrlich, Avraham Alter and his brother Moshe Michael Kostiner, and their sons, Yossl and Baruch Alter, who in their business supported a Gemach fund from which loans were granted to the small merchants; Mendel Kerzner and others.

I remember a special Shabbat when the Admor Menachem Mendel of Vizhnitz, son of the late Rabbi Israel of Vizhnitz, came to Schotz. Ḥassidim gathered from far and wide. The study hall was so crowded they had to connect it to the women's section. The tisch and the lovely tunes continued until early morning. Rabbi Ḥaim was deported with his family, Rebbitzin Ruḥale of the Miedzybóz dynasty, and his daughter Miriam, to Murafa, in Transnistria, where the rebbitzin died and was laid to rest in the town's cemetery.

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Rabbi Ḥaim returned from the deportation to Schotz, remarried to Rachel Fruchter, and continued to run the Schotz-Vizhnitz Ḥassidim. The Ḥassidim gathered daily for prayers and Torah study in the synagogue in the “Courtyard.” The courtyard also contained a famous orchard for the enjoyment of the town's young people. In 1950, the Rabbi emigrated to Israel with his family, settled in Haifa and gathered his Schotz followers around him in the synagogue on Omer al-Mukhtar Street, then on Herzl Street. Later, the Rabbi left Haifa and moved to Bnei Brak, where he died on 24 Tevet 5737 (1977), at a ripe old age.


Rabbi Ḥaim Hager, OBM
Rabbi Moshe Lau, OBM


Rabbi Moshe Ḥaim Lau of Piotrków, OBM

by Meir Kostiner

Gaon Moshe Ḥaim Lau served as rabbi of Schotz during 1920-1928. He came from a lineage of rabbis that went back generations. The pages are too short for describing it but we will mention some personalities from recent generations. His great-grandfather, Rabbi Isaiah Halevy Segal, the TAZ (named after his book, tourei zahav), was a rabbi of Probuzna. His maternal grandfather was Gaon Rabbi Shmuel Yitzhak Schor, rabbi of Monasterzyska, after whom his book was named, Responsa minḥat shai, and was one of the greatest respondents of his generation. There is also a family connection to Schotz or rather the Schotz-born prodigy, the late Rabbi Meir Shapira (see a separate article in this chapter). His mother, Margalit, married his father, Rabbi Jacob Shimshon Shapira, and is the granddaughter of the [author of] Responsa minḥat shai. Her father, Rabbi Moshe Ḥaim Lau's uncle, Rabbi Avraham Zvi Schor, headed the Ḥassidic Court of Justice (badatz) in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Moshe Ḥaim Lau was the son-in-law of Rabbi Israel Hager of Vizhnitz, the author of ahavat yisrael. He was ordained a rabbi at 27 and his first position was in Schotz. Here he founded a Talmud

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Torah and gave daily classes in GPT and evening classes for homeowners. He was involved with bringing the youth closer to Torah and Judaism, and developed a friendly relationship beyond the relationship between a rabbi and his flock. One of his associates was Shlomo Kostiner. He was also in contact with Rabbi Moshe Ḥaim during the dark days of the Piotrków Ghetto.

From Schotz he continued to serve as rabbi in Preszów and Piotrków, one of the leaders of Polish Jewry and one of the foremost rabbis of Poland. Rabbi Moshe Ḥaim Lau OBM, hyd, perished in the Holocaust. His son from his second marriage, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, served as Chief Rabbi of Israel and Israel Prize laureate for his life's work for bringing people together; elected in 2005, as Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Jaffa; and his book, Do not Raise Your Hand Against the Boy (Yedioth Aharonot - Hemed Books: 2005) was well received and well read.


Rabbi Jacob (Yankele) Moscovicz, OBM
A descendant of the dynasty of R. Meir of Premishlan (1780-1850)

by Mordechai Gross

Meir of Preimslan's daughter, Miriam Ḥaya OBM, was married to R. Yoel, who died in 1886. She outlived her husband and was known as a wonder worker, using a cane she inherited from her father. She asked that it be placed in her grave to protect the city. Indeed, during World War I, all the surrounding towns were destroyed, but Suceava remained intact.

This righteous woman would enter the synagogue in the evening, open the Holy Ark and pour her heart out before the Creator of the world, and ask that all those who submitted requests that day would succeed. She passed away on 25 Adar 5663 (1903). A shelter was erected over her grave in Suceava's Old Cemetery, which still exists and is surrounded by a wall. Alongside her were buried her sons, Rabbi Jacob Shlomo, OBM, (from Gura Humora) and R. Meir, OBM, father of R. Yankele. In 1975, the three bodies were brought to Israel with the original tombstones and reburied on the Mount of Olives in the Kollel Galicia section. The operation was carried out by Rabbi M. Frankel, OBM, later rabbi of the French Carmel in Haifa. He was the husband of Miriam Yehudit, daughter of Rabbi Jacob (Yankele) Moskowitz.

Rabbi Yankele ran a court with a large synagogue, with a large crowd of worshippers and scholars who persevered in their holy studies.

Rabbi Yankele was deported with his family to Transnistria and arrived in Shargorod. He survived the Holocaust and returned from there to Suceava. He was known as an almsgiver. A cook worked in their home to prepare food for every needy person. The funds that came into his house was given to charity.

He merited emigrating to Israel, settling in Haifa and established a synagogue on Hillel Street. After his passing,

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his son Zalman Leib, OBM, refused to guide the congregation but was known as a great philanthropist. He served as secretary of the Religious Council in Haifa and established a wonderful family. Daughter Myriam Yehudit left an extensive family in Israel.


Rabbi Jacob Moskowicz, OBM
Rabbi Meshulam Roth, OBM


Rabbi Meshulam Roth, OBM
The Prodigy from Horodenka

by Mordechai Gross

The Rabbi was born in 1875 in Horodenka (Galicia) and by the time he was 13, his fame spread over the Jewish world as the “Prodigy from Horodenka.” A few years later, he was appointed rabbi of his hometown, and from all corners of the world he was approached with complex questions on halakhah. The Rabbi believed in the importance of a Jewish state and identified with religious Zionism, and was even elected as Mizrahi's representative to the Zionist Congress on behalf of the. He was also nominated to the Siem (Polish Parliament). He moved to serve as rabbi of Khrostkov but was forced to leave because he was a Zionist. From there he moved to serve as rabbi of Suceava (Schotz) in 1929. Yitzchak Kostiner remembers that he and all the children of the Jewish kindergarten under the management of “Aunt” Isolis greeted the Rabbi with blue and white flags.

R. Yisrael Levanon in his book, matza ḥen bamidbar (Found Grace in the Desert), relates that he saw the rabbi of Suceava learning Torah: “At midnight, the late Rabbi Meshulam Roth stood at a table full of books, studying, flipping pages, and drawing pearls of wisdom from the Talmud. So, it was every night, ‘…because learning did not cease from his mouth.’” Rabbi Roth served as rabbi of Suceava for about 10 years and later moved to serve as rabbi of Czernowitz, the capital of Bucovina, where he founded, among other things, a seminary for Orthodox rabbis.

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In 1943 he managed to get to Bucharest, bringing with him many manuscripts. He appealed to the late Israel Levanon to save his writings, and he indeed succeeded in moving all of them to Israel. On 14 Sivan 5704 (1944), the rabbi emigrated to Eretz Israel, arriving via Rosh Hanikra.

When the State was declared, he issued a ruling that the full Hallel prayer be said on Independence Day, a ruling that was accepted by national religious circles. The Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi Isaac Herzog and Rabbi Benzion Uziel, respected Rabbi Roth's genius and appointed him as the president of the Great Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem. According to Rabbi Herzog, “Everyone admits that there is nobody greater in our generation than Rabbi Meshulam Roth.”

He has authored many books, including, kol mevasser. Rabbi Roth returned his pure soul to his Creator on 26 Kislev 5723 (1963) in his 88th year. Ten years after his death, the cornerstone was laid for the establishment of Kiryat Kol Mevasser (in memory of his book) in Mevasseret Zion near Jerusalem. Blessed be his memory.


Rabbi Judah Meir Shapira, OBM

by Mordechai Gross

The child, Judah Meir, was born in Suceava, a great Jewish city, on 7 Adar 5647 (1887) to R. Jacob Samson and wife Margala. His family came from the SWM communities (Speyer, Worms, Mainz), which is why the family name was Shapira.


Rabbi Judah Meir Shapira, OBM

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His descent on his father's side, Rabbi Nathan Neta Shapira and R. Pinchas of Korets, and on his mother's side, the baḥ (author of bayit ḥadash) and the taz (author of tourei zahav). Tens of thousands flocked to him and trustworthy rabbis clung to him. He is the generator of the daf yomi. From Rosh Hashanah 5684 (1924), the new schedule of the daf yomi to be studied on all five continents was opened. In 2005, Jews all over the world completed the 11th cycle of the daf yomi. (perhaps this should be updated for 2021?)

In Lag B'Omer 5684 (1924), the cornerstone of the “Yeshivat Ḥochmei Lublin” was laid. Rabbi Yehuda Meir was a genius in halakhah, an artist in casuistry, exposition, song, and poetry. He was also a political leader and served for three years in the Polish Siem, and rabbi of Lublin.

Once a member of the Polish Siem asked him about eating a hard-boiled egg on Passover [seder]. Rabbi Yehuda Meir replied by quoting the verse, But the more they were oppressed, the more they increased and spread out, (Ex. 1:12) meaning that the longer an egg cooks, the harder it becomes. As for the Jews, the more they are persecuted, the stronger they become.

At a party in the United States, a Jew asked what he could gain if he invested money in building a yeshiva. The Rabbi replied that for $100,000 he would sell him his own share of the afterlife (gan eden), for the sake of establishing Yeshivat Ḥochmei Lublin. When he set up a boarding school near the yeshiva, he approached R. Meshulam Roth, Chief Rabbi of Suceava, and asked him for a curriculum.

In 1933, he agreed to serve the Lodz community if they supported the Great Yeshiva of Lublin. He died at a young age, in his 47th year, in 1934. The “Zikhron Meir” neighborhood in Bnei Brak is named after him.

The Jews in Romania and Suceava
Between the Two World Wars

by Simcha Weissbuch

At the end of World War, the Versailles Treaty imposed a democratic regime upon Romania; providing equal rights to all national minorities, including the Jews; especially in annexed areas (Bucovina, Transylvania, Bessarabia, and parts of Dobrogea). The various Romanian governments more or less honored these commitments despite Romania's antisemitic tradition. Still, the authorities attempted to remove or lessen the presence of Jews in public life, mainly among students. So, for example, on November 10, 1926, Jewish student David Flick was shot to death by a Romanian student, Nikolaia Tuto Under the directive of the of Abresko-Goga government, the Suceava court did not deal with the trial. The case was finally transferred to the courthouse in Kimpolung where the murderer was acquitted. Tuto later rose to prominence as leader of the Iron Guard. His comrades, the “Legionnaires,” led him to Bucharest in a victory parade.

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Between the two World Wars, radical antisemitic parties operated in Romania, inciting against the Jews in their newspapers. The Garda de Fier Party (The Iron Guard) was founded in 1927, and later became known as “Legionnaires” or “All for The Fatherland” and had a radical nationalist ideology whose activities included violence and even murder. This party was founded alongside the National Christian Defense League (Liga Apărării Naţiunei Creştine) in 1923 under the leadership of Prof. A.C. Cuza, a well-known antisemite, whose foremost interest was anti-Jewish incitement in the style of Der Stürmer. His disciple, Cornel Zelea Codreanu, headed the Legionnaires (he was shot in 1938).

They claimed the Jews were spoiling and polluting everything in the country. So too, the ruling parties: the Liberal (of the Brătianu family), the Romanian National (Naţional Român) and the National Agricultural Party (Naţional Ţărănesc) headed by Iuliu Maniu, publicly expressed their opinion that there were too many Jews in Romania and that they should be expelled. In 1935, the National Agricultural Party announced that its platform included a requirement to transfer all jobs and factory management to Romanians.

With the rise of the Nazis, there came a radical change in Jewish-Christian relations. The Orthodox Christian clergy exhibited indifference to what was happening. Even the democratic press, whose journalists were mostly Jewish, and called the “Judaizing Press,” quickly felt the changing atmosphere. In 1937, under O. Goga, their appearance in this press was banned. In contrast, the newspaper Porunca Vremii, based on incitement against Jews, appeared, while newspapers such as Universul and Curentul had antisemitic inclinations.

The authorities imposed many harsh decrees on the Jewish population as part of its policy to oppress, humiliate, and even impoverish the Jews. Thus, the Jews were prohibited from selling tobacco and whiskey [lit. brandy], which became a government monopoly. The decree, published on the eve of the 9th of Ab [Tisha B'Av] in 1937 (July 16), was designed to dispossess thousands of Jews of their livelihood.

Other repressive measures included the obligation to keep businesses open on Saturdays (until then, they were permitted to be closed on Saturdays provided that they also remained closed on Sundays); the obligation to only speak Romanian in stores (“vorbiţi numai româneşte”); a prohibition to leave the house between 18:00 and 6:00; the obligation to wear a yellow patch in the shape of a Star of David, etc.

Later on, Jewish doctors were prohibited from treating Christian patients, and the sign had to appear with the Star of David inscribed with “Jewish Doctor”; Jewish-owned radio receivers were confiscated,

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and it was mandatory to report for forced labor (muncă obşteasc obligatorie). However, the most severe anti-Jewish law was that of re-examining Jews' citizenship. It became necessary to obtain all kinds of certificates, some of which could not be obtained at all; all under a policy of humiliation and extortion of funds. As a result, the citizenship of dozens of Jewish families was revoked.

Against the growing wave of oppression and humiliation, the Jews of Suceava responded with the only weapon at their disposal: boycott. And so, many people stopped smoking, doctors did not include German-made pharmaceuticals in their prescriptions, and pharmacists stopped buying medicines from that country. Similarly, the Jewish-owned cinemas removed German films from their program, and German books and magazines were excluded from their libraries. The leading boycotters in all sectors were Dr. Kalman Tarter, Dr. Adolf Gabor, Dr. Leib Shapira, Dr. A. Hermann, Dr. Wolf Schaerf, Martin Haas, and others.

Spring of 1940 was the deadline for Jewish students to take matriculation exams but a numerus nullus (null number) rule was instituted, meaning Jews were prohibited from attending Romanian schools.


The situation just before the outbreak of World War II

Everywhere in Europe, where the Nazi cancer metastasized and spread, the situation of the Jews worsened extremely. When, under pressure from Germany, King Carol II transferred the country's leadership to the antisemitic government of Goga-Cuza in 1937, a state of chaos was created in the country. But after 44 days in power, the government was forced to resign. After the Goga-Cuza government fell, the government of Ion Gigurtu was formed (1937-1940), which received, on August 30, 1940, what was known as The Dictate, according to which, northern Transylvania was annexed to Hungary.

In September 1940, the National Revival Front Government (Frontul Renaşterii Naţionale) appointed the antisemitic General Ion Antonescu, who led the country together with Horia Sima's Iron Guard.

On June 28, 1940, Bessarabia and northern Bucovina were occupied by the Red Army. In the agreement for the transfer of territories between the two countries, it was stated that for a short period of time it was possible to move from one side to the other. Many young Jews took advantage of this option and moved to the Soviet Union (A. Totober, G. Margolis, L. Gronich, W. Roul, A. Hollinger, Ruth Weitmann, G. Schultz, H.L. Fuchs, A. Nussbrauch, and others). The Jews were accused of being responsible for the invasion of the Soviets, and antisemitism reached a new height of cruelty: the killing of Jews and pogroms was the lot of many. Large numbers were murdered or left disabled for life by throwing them off trains as they were speeding along.

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In July 1941, thousands of Jews were expelled from the towns and villages in the province: Cacica, Solca, Ilişeşti, Arbore, Bălăceana, Comăneşti, Cheţani, and more. Thus, thousands of destitute refugee Jews came to Suceava and found refuge in Jewish homes and synagogues. The community took care of them, despite the endless decrees imposed on the Jewish residents of Suceava. Thus, between 30 and 40 men were held hostage in the Great Synagogue and the Bet Midrash (Study Hall), among them the Brothers Leib and Zusia Weitmann. They were supposed to be guarantors for the safety of the German and Romanian soldiers. Women were then also held, and hostages were exchanged with others every two weeks, except for anti-Nazi Martin Haas, Leon Winish, Wagner, and others.

Units of the German army were billeted in the city in preparation for the war against the Soviet Union. A military hospital was built in “Arnie Park,” and Jews were forced to work there. However, the culmination of the persecution of the Jews in its various and multiple ways was the order to deport all the Jews to Transnistria between October 9 and 11, 1941.


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