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[Page 61]

Hatna – Dărmăneşti
(Romania)

47°44' 26°09'

Translated by Moshe Devere

A village some 18 km (11 miles) from Schotz had a community of about 20 families; altogether 90 people. Despite their small number, it was a close-knit community with vibrant Jewish life. The name Hatna was changed by the Romanians to Dărmăneşti.

[Page 62]

The place is famous for the train station, which was a transportation hub. For good reason, Meir Shafrir (formerly Sperber) calls it “the transportation nerve center of Bucovina.” At this train station, there was an inn with a restaurant and a place to sleep over for passengers who changed trains in Hatna. The inn was owned by Abraham Abba Sperber, who purchased it during the Austrian regime before World War I. Avraham Abba Sperber's personality, a Jew originating from Frankfurt, Germany, and his inn, made their mark on community life in Hatna.

Thus, the Sperbers prayed on Shabbat; the men dressed up with shtreimels and schipiche[1]. The butcher, Avraham Alter Genut, led the prayers. His pleasant and strong voice could shake the windows. One of the worshippers was Eliezer Alter, the grandfather of the late Eliezer Alter, who was the deputy mayor of Haifa. After the prayer, they served kiddush, which included cookies, reinkich[2], lekech[3], tuch[4], malay[5], beans with onions and oil, kugel, and buckwheat with kishke, all of course in addition to the yash [6].

On Saturdays, Abba Sperber, a [Torah] scholar, gave lectures and Bible lessons. Sometimes, Zionist subjects were also discussed. Despite the small number of Jews, there was another minyan [quorum] praying with the Holtz family. Mordechai Wasserman, who was among the worshippers in this minyan, said that his father, Aaron (Oren) Leib Wasserman, would lead the prayers, praying in the Vizhnitz version. Jews from the nearby villages would also come to pray in Hatna. So, Eisenthal would come from the village of Marca. Before prayers, summer and winter, he would dip in the Suceava River, which flowed through the village.

 

Suc062a.jpg
 
suc062b.jpg
Aharon Leib Wasserman (OBM)
 
Avraham Abba Sperber (OBM)

[Page 63]

The youngsters learned in the ḥeder. Meir Shafrir mentions Bartfeld, a teacher who taught Torah with the German translation. Contrary to what was accepted at the time, he also taught Prophets and even Ketuvim (Hagiographa). Avraham Abba Sperber, who was himself a teacher in Frankfurt, supervised the curriculum in the ḥeder, and when the teachers were not familiar with the subject (they were brought from Maramureş), he himself gave the lessons. Sometimes during the summer, the pupils would go with the teachers to bathe in the Suceava River.

As for events related to the train station, it is said that before World War I, on his way from Austria to Hungary, Kaiser Franz Josef's train passed through Hatna. The locals organized a reception and the gentiles, led by the village priest with church images, showed up at the station plaza. A handful of Jews, led by Avraham Abba, Sperber with a Torah scroll in hand, also displayed a respectable representation of the small community. The Kaiser first approached the Torah scroll and kissed it, and then he went to the church images and kissed them, too. Abraham Abba also received permission to speak and gave a moving speech.

Also, rabbis who passed through Hatna or changed trains at this station received an enthusiastic reception at Sperber's Inn at the station. Thus, the Admor of Vizhnitz, Rabbi Yisrael Hager (may his memory protect us), on traveling from Vizhnitz to Borşa in Maramureş, accompanied by his three sons and an entourage of Ḥassidim, was greeted with laden tables and the entire station decorated with the “Welcome” banners. At the receptions were Ḥassidim, who came from the surrounding area (Schotz, Iţcani, Burdujeni and others). Mordechai Wasserman remembers how his father picked him up and the Admor blessed him through the train window. Also etched in his memory were the buns that were part of the lavish refreshments from which he ate the remnants .

The Hatna Jews' livelihood was based on commerce. Gentiles from the town and the surrounding area bought products in their stores and these were also guests at the train-station inn. Some of the Jews leased land from the village gentiles and worked them for a share of the crop. In the village, they spoke Romanian and Ukrainian with the gentiles, and among themselves, the Jews spoke Yiddish and German. The Jews had proper relations with the authorities and with the gentiles who lived in the village. Usually, the gendarmes would inform or caution us when a change in routine was about to occur. However, in 1940, the skies darkened. The regime changed over all of Romania as a whole, and decrees also descended upon the Jews of Hatna. The gentiles were released from their debts to the Jews; their real estate was confiscated. The deportation order from the village came soon after: the Jews were deported; allowed to take only their movable goods. All their possessions, land, houses, and animals were left behind. However, there was no loss of life in this village.

In a moving farewell speech by Avraham Abba Sperber, who was a man of faith, he said that the village gentiles were merely messengers of Heaven and that the Jews accepted the decrees with love.

[Page 64, Note: 8 plates inserted here]

And so, the community of Hatna Jews came to its end. They moved to Schotz and were absorbed into the Schotz Jewish community, some less and some more, enduring deep mental crises.

Written down by Meir Kostiner as related by Meir Shafrir and Mordechai Wasserman


Editor's footnotes:

  1. Presumably some sort of Hassidic garb. return
  2. Presumably a sponge cake (rein means 'clean') return
  3. A cake return
  4. May mean eggs return
  5. Could not be idenified return
  6. Liquor return

 

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