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[Page 51]

Independent Crown Land (cont.)

Because of this conflict, Rabbi Horowitz-Meisels resigned and in 1870 returned to his home town, Zolkiew.

Together with the dissatisfaction over the election of Dr. Igels, the orthodox community resented the Statute that the government gave the community which was ratified in 1872. This Statute which conformed to the constitution of 1867 was written by the lawyer, Dr. Josef Reitmann. The orthodox Jews refused to accept the Statute.

The leaders, Hersch Welwel Juster, Josef Schmelzer, Samuel Jonas Schwarz, Aron Isak Goldfrucht and 500 orthodox Jews, separated from the Jewish community and submitted a Statute for the formation of an independent Israelite orthodox community, since their religious needs were not considered, the position of an orthodox, true to tradition rabbi remained unfilled, the rituals don't correspond to Schechita and the Great Synagogue was neglected.

The Regional Government (President: Baron Pino) confirmed the Statute with the decree of December 27, 1871 (ZL 10.840), and the Religion and Educations ministries confirmed it with the decree of January 23, 1872.

The community was formed and an executive committee was chosen on August 23, 1872. Rabbi Benjamin Arje Weiss (1841 – 1912), a student of the Lemberg Rabbi Josef Schaul Natansohn and Rabbi Mordechai Wolf Ettinge were appointed on August 25, 1872.

Rabbi Weiss was a recognized expert in halachischen [M] matters. His responses appeared after his death in two volumes (Przemysl 1914). He also wrote dramatic poetry in three volumes (Chernivtsi 1880).

Although Rabbi Weiss was orthodox, his viewpoint was moderate and tolerant and he tried to maintain peace in the Jewish community. Dajan Berger supported him in his efforts although at first it was not easy for him.

The progressive members of the community initiated a new executive committee election at the beginning of 1872 which took place in three classes of voters and in which representatives of the free academic professions were elected, among them, Dr. Henrich Kiesler, Dr. Hermann Poras, Dr. Heinrich Atlas and Dr. Leo Reitmann. In addition, enlightened businessmen and tradesmen were elected.

On February 16, 1872, a meeting took place to elect the officers. Isak Rubinstein was elected president, Naftali Tittinger and Leibuka Barber were elected vice presidents, Aba Steiner and Jonas Achner were elected provost and as community secretary, Dr. Julius Kiesler, who served in this office until 1927 was elected.

Two days latter, in the presence of the representative of the Regional Government and the Regional Rabbi, the inauguration of the new Community Council took place.

The orthodox continued their fight against the new Community Council. The new Community Council fought will all means available to restore the original condition of a single united community. To this purpose, a deputation was sent to Vienna in order to ask the Religion and Education minister, Freiherr von Stromayer to find a solution to the problem.

The orthodox tried to counter this move by sending their own delegation to Vienna which demanded that they be allowed to have their own community on the Hungarian pattern.

Both camps were waging a bitter war against each other that was made still worse when the Community Council forbid Rabbi Weiss to conduct services in the Great Synagogue.

The fighting became so fierce that the mayor of Chernivtsi stepped in and held meetings with representatives from both sides to bring an end to the conflict.

The orthodox Jews, however, didn't give in and continued with their battle.

Finally, the government which could find no other solution, stepped in and in December 1872, dissolved both communities and ordered, on the basis of the “Josephinischen [N] ” Jewish laws, a new election for a unified community.

As a temporary measure, the regional government appointed a seven member provisional executive committee, whose chairman was David Rottenberg and with representatives, Naftali Tittinger and Bernhard Baltinester, whose tasks were to stop the fighting, work out a new Statute and to hold a new election.

The negotiations lasted three years until both parties agreed on a community statute which was then ratified by the regional government.

It was agreed that one progressive rabbi and one orthodox rabbi would be named by the Community Council. The progressive rabbi would have the title, “chief rabbi” and the orthodox rabbi would be called, Ab beth din [O] . His responsibilities would include the Schechita [P] , the Talmud-Torah [Q] , the Great Synagogue which had to be immediately restored, the ritual bath and all religious facilities.

On the basis of this Statute, an election was held in three sections (March 7, 14 and 22 of 1877) for a 24 member Community Council and on April 12, 1877 a 7 member executive committee was elected.

Isak Rubinstein who was elected to the chamber of commerce for the 1873 to 1879 term left the leadership of the community and became hospital director, in which position, he served until his death in 1878.

The merchant, David Rottenberg was elected president of the community, Natali Tittinger and Bernhard Baltinester were elected vice president and Dr. Josef Fechner and Isidor Wischoffer were elected to the executive committee.

The new community leadership moved to repair the damage done by the internal fighting and to increase the budget which was only 2500 fl. in 1872 to a current amount of 4658 fl.

The money was raised mainly by taxes which were divided into 6 levels ranging form 2 to 35 fl. yearly.

One of the most important institutions in the community was the German – Israelite school, was approved by the government after long negotiations (1849 – 1854) and opened on October 1855. (Compare the essay by Prof. Dr. Sternberg a.a.O).

There were a significant number of Jewish students at the public middle schools and institutes of learning. With the passage of time, more and more Jewish students entered the universities in hopes of achieving better life in the “free professions.” Until the establishment of the university in Chernivtsi, the Bukovina residents studied in Vienna.

In 1872, 58 Bukovina Jews (57 men and one woman) studied at Austrian universities.

When the Chernivtsi university opened in 1875, 26 Jewish students enrolled in the two schools (law and philosophy). In 1878, out of 223 students, 52 were Jewish. Out of 103 students in the law school, 36 were Jewish and of the 79 philosophy students, 16 were Jewish.

In the years 1881/82, of the 264 students at the university, 65 were Jewish (24.6%),1867/87 – 270 students of which 65 were Jewish (24.6%), 1891/92 – 342 students of which 114 were Jewish (33.3%), 1896/97 – 397 students of which 168 were Jewish (42.3%), 1901/02 – 599 students, of which 248 were Jewish (41.4%), 1904/05 – 539 students of which 272 were Jewish (42.6%), 1905 – 636 students of which 264 were Jewish (41%), of these 188 studied law, 65 philosophy, and 11 pharmacy31a, 1905/1906, 1914 out of 1198 students 431 were Jewish.

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One of the most important institutions in Chernivtsi was the Jewish hospital. In addition to a special fund, it was supported by a tax on kosher meat.

In 1888, the 44 bed hospital had one chief doctor, one administrator, two nurses and two workers for menial jobs.

Two noteworthy doctors who were active into the eighties were Dr. A.Fuellenbaum and Dr. Moses Schaerf.

In 1898, the hospital was enlarged.

In 1908, Dr. Hermann Fischer opened a children's hospital which he turned over to the city of Chernivtsi.

In 1881, 10 endowments and legacies were given to the community totaling 53,150 florin.

The largest endowment was the Loew Friedfertig endowment with a capital of 30,000 fl. whose interest was used for trousseaus for poor girls.

In this period, a whole series of organizations like the People's Cooking Society (1875), “Machsikei Schabbath [R] ” (1894), “Machse le-Ewion [S] ” (1876), the Lady's Aid Society ( 1885), “Asylum Society” (1907), the Jewish Orphanage (1904), the Elderly and Invalid Rest Home (1903) as well as the Hachnassath Kallah [T] (1914), and the “Woechnerinnenverein” (1913) were organized and enlarged. (Compare the article by Dr. Neuborn: “Jewish Societies and Institutions a.a.O.”)

In 1877, a contribution of 6000 fl. by the banker Heinrich Wagner allowed the Chernivtsi Jews to start the construction of the synagogue. After the death of Rubenstein, Wagner took over the position of representative to the Chamber of Commerce and held this position during the legislature sessions until his death in 1894. The synagogue construction was supervised by architects Anton Fiala and Johann Gregor using plans developed by the Lemberg Professor Julian Zachariewicz. The synagogue was dedicated on September 4, 187732(28 Elul 5637).

The Temple Society still had debts and its creditors auctioned off the mortgage which was purchased by Leibuka Barber, Heinrich Wagner and Isak Rubinstein who made the best offer of 24,000 fl.

The successor to the Temple Society was the “New Chernivtsi Israelite Temple Society which relieved the debt for 28,644 fl., 93 kr. and gave it over to the possession of the Community.

In 1882, Naftali Tittinger was elected president of the Community and Bernhard Baltinester was elected vice president and Dr. Benno Straucher, Chaim Luttinger, Isidor Wischoffer and Aron Amster were elected to the Executive Committee.

In reality, the leadership and political guidance of the community lay in the hands of a small number of long established patrician families, Rubinstein, Wagner, Dr. Fechner, Tittinger, Baltinester, Barber, who besides leading the community in its internal affairs, represented the Jews of Bukovina in the larger world.

Only with the appearance of Dr. Benno Straucher on the political stage and his election to the Community Council in 1882, began the fight against the domination of the Community Council by a small circle of patrician families.

Now the requirements and needs of the “little man” came to the forefront.

Still, it took years to wrest the control of the community from the tight knit group of “old” families and to create institutions more in tune with the egalitarian spirit of the times.

In the same years that the fight between the Enlightened and the Orthodox and Chasidim took place in Chernivtsi, the Chasidim in Bukovina were gaining strength.

In this case, the fight between Maskilim [U] and Chasidim [V] didn't take the form it did in Galicia in the first half of the XIX century.

The considerable number of Enlightened Jews in Chernivtsi didn't take the trouble to fight the “dark men of Chasidim” in a satiric literary manner like Joseph Perl, Dr. Isak Erter or O. H. Schorr. Instead, they were satisfied by writing letters to the “Allgemeinen Zeitung des Judentums”, Dr. Meir Letteri's “Wiener Blaetter”, Wiener Mitteilungen”, and Szanto's “Neuzeit” detailing the peculiarities of the Chasidim, especially, the Sadagurer Chasidim.

In June 1856, the Jewish press published revelations of a scandal in the court of the Sadagura Chasidim in which Rabbi Abraham Jakob and 12 suspected accomplices were arrested for the forgery of Russian state documents.

A printing press was found in the cellar of his “palace.” His estate, Potok and all his hard cash, including 5000 fl. that was collected for Palestine, was confiscated33.

The further development of this affair is unknown, since it was hushed up.

No less piquant is the affair of the Sadagura Rabbi with the Baron Mustazza, the owner of Sadagura. The rabbi put a curse on the baron because he wanted to build a church next to the synagogue. Since the curse was detrimental to the Baron's business interests, he gave up his plans to build the church whereupon, the rabbi lifted the Bahnfluch33a.

Beriniu Ruzyn and the Sadagura Chasidic dynasty

The affair of 1869 was somewhat more serious.

In that year, the Sadagura dynasty was at the center of a great scandal that stirred up a lively interest not only the in the Chasidic, but also in the Enlightened world. `The most varied rumors swirled around. People said that this affair was the result of the all to lavish life style of the Sadagura. The Chasidic opponents of the Zaddik [W] court spread the most spread the most fantastic and terrible stories about the Zaddik court.

It is no wonder that this affair lead to a real scandal, when one thinks that a son of the founder of the Sadagura dynasty, the famous Zaddik Israel von Runzyn one day suddenly declared that he was sick of his dignity as Zaddik and that he sought the only way out by turning his back on the Chasidic fuss. The man who intended to do this was no one other than the fourth son of the previously mentioned Israel von Runzyn, Reb Ber, known popularly as “Beriniu,” who after the death of his father resided in the small Romanian town Leova as Zaddik and heir to Runzyn34.

Beriniu, born in 1817 was from his youth on, an unusual man. In contrast to the other children of Ruzyner, who lived a pretentious luxurious life, and went for joy rides in 4 horse carriages, accompanied by liveried lackeys, their wives dressed in the latest Paris and Vienna fashions, Beriniu hated this life style and conducted his life in a more serious manner. Always in a somber mood, he read, even on weekdays, much more Torah than his brothers and had no love for the noisy companionship of his follower, who for that reason called him a “hidden Chassid.” The Chasidic rumpus gradually became to much for him. Since 1866, he fought a tenacious intellectual battle against the “empty” Chasidic life style.

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In Leova, he mixed with both Maskilim and Christians. His confidant, Josel Dick, told that Beriniu often, visited the educated Christians who lived across the courtyard. In his house, he had discussions with educated Christians which brought another world before his eyes.

The Chasidic life with its festivals and Geldgaben [X] repulsed him. He longed for the life of a man independent of Gabaim [Y] . And didn't even reveal to his wife or brother his intention to give up the dignity of a rabbi. They advised him, however not to take this step and advised him to distance himself from it, because, it would harm the prestige of the Sadagura dynasty and reduce its sphere of influence.

Beriniu followed this advice at first, since he didn't have the courage to break with his family. But after three years of soul tormenting indecision, he decided to give up his respected position.

His wife told her brother that her husband showed signs of mental illness. Also, his brother, Abraham Jakob, who since 1851, represented the dignity of the Sadagura Zaddik, suspected that Beriniu could take an irresponsible action and decided to preemptively restrain him. They feared that Beriniu who already on Yom Kippur, 1868 refused to go to the Kol-Nidre prayer and had to be hauled, almost using force into the Synagogue, where his Chasidim received him with indescribable joy and he in a fit of rage declared that there was only one way out, that of being baptized.

Now the family decided to use the pretext of a mental illness and as he together with his wife and family doctor went for a drive after Sukkoth, the doctor gave him a sleeping drug and he went to sleep. He was then bound hand and foot and the coach rushed over the Romanian border to Sadagura. As Beriniu woke, he began to scream in rage which naturally didn't help him. On Friday, he arrived in Sadagura and was locked in a room. In the night, his oldest brother, Abraham Jakob visited him and reproached him that he desecrated the memory of their father and damaged the prestige of the dynasty which in any case at this time had numerous opponents because of their luxurious life style.

As answer, Beriniu, in spite of the Sabbath, extinguished the candle. This action so shocked his brother that he fell in a faint36.

From then on, Beriniu was locked up and prevented from any contact with the outside world.

In order to avoid any problems with the authorities, the family obtained a doctor's certificate stating that Beriniu was mentally ill, suffered from fits of madness and therefore must be kept under lock and key.

In spite of all precautions, news of Beriniu's captivity reached the outside world. The most fantastic rumors began to spread37.
The Chasidim and the followers of the Sadagura dynasty told that Beriniu had a terrific battle with “Aschmadaj [Z] . The most fantastical stories were told which had their origin in the Chasidic fantasy.

The Maskilim from Chernivtsi, near Sadagura, who were told about the events by a Maskil from Leova, put a different interpretation on the story of the imprisonment. A considerable number of Enlightened Jews, who were always ready to do battle with the “dark men” of Chassidim gathered around the Hebrew author, Moses Ornstein, who was a Sadagura Chassid in his youth and the lawyer, Dr. Reitmann. To them it seemed the opportune time to start the battle. Beriniu should help them with this fight. It was said because of the news that was spreading that Beriniu was a free thinker who was no longer willing to wear the chains of dark intolerance. It was believed that the fight against the intentions of his brother was the rejection by a man fighting for his freedom of the Zaddik swindle. It was therefore seen as a noble task to help this man, who they say as a fighter for the freedom of the soul, escape from the snares of the Sadagura court.

Responding to a complaint from the Maskilim, a Chernivtsi prosecutor accompanied by the afore mentioned author Ornstein, traveled to Sadagura to find out what was going on.

When the prosecutor asked the Zaddik Abraham Jakob why Reb Beriniu was held prisoner, the Rabbi showed him a doctor's letter which stated that Beriniu was mentally ill. In spite of this document, the prosecutor opened the door and Beriniu said to him that he was perfectly healthy and only had one wish, to be freed as soon as possible.

The prosecutor took Beriniu to Chernivtsi and handed him over to the Executive Committee of the Jewish community which lay in the hands of the Maskilim.

Now it was necessary to find a dwelling for Reb Beriniu. The leading members of the community, although they were Enlightened Jews, were afraid to take Beriniu in, since they were in many ways, dependent on the Sadagura Chasidim. On the other hand, they didn't want to put him in a hotel, since they feared that the Chasidim could attach him there.

After long efforts, the lawyer, Dr. Jehuda Leib (Leo) Reitmann decided to take Reb Beriniu into his house. There Reb Beriniu spent the following months.

The Maskilim soon realized that Beriniu was not a fighting free spirit as they had first imagined.

He had no education, had read very little, even though the Chasidim accused him of becoming a renegade by reading the Haskala literature, especially Hechaluz published by Osias H. Schorr.

He passed the time in Dr. Reitmann's house reading light Hebrew lectures, which the aforementioned author Ornstein brought him, but he often confessed that he didn't quite understand them. He spent most of his time with Dr Reitmann's ten year old daughter whose piano playing he enjoyed. She also instructed him in German reading and writing.

In Dr. Reitmann's house, he found a world that was new to him. He didn't pray, ate treyf [AA] food and often desecrated the Sabbath.

Rabbi Dr. Igel visited him several times and convinced him to leave the house of Dr. Reitmann, saying that he would give him a nice room in his house if he would promise to observe the rules of Judaism. R. Beriniu was not interested.

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In Chernivtsi, a contemporary said, it was frequently discussed that Beriniu shaved his beard and dressed in German style.

It is understandable that the Chasidic opponents of the Sadagura court, were triumphant about Beriniu's behavior.

They explained that this was the result of the luxurious life lead by Ruzyner's children. With special satisfaction, they spread the news that Beriniu ate treyf food in Dr. Reitman's house. The Sadagura Chasidim, on the other hand, consoled themselves with the fact that Beriniu's actions were only a play of Satan's. He was protected by Elijahu Hanawi [BB] who would during the meal, take the bowl with treyf food away from him and in its place put kosher food.

Beriniu's wife and the Sadagura Zaddik sought another way to deter the renegade from his insane behavior. They sent messages to him and pleaded with him to come home to Sadagura. They sent his brother-in-law, the rabbi Mendel from Wiznitz, who he highly respected. Rabbi Mendel personally pleaded with him to return, but all efforts were in vain.

His most urgent problem was how he could in a judicial way, recover the 40,000 gulden which he had left in a box in Leova so he could live a comfortable private life.

The affair of Berinius had become so scandalous and had stirred up so much dust that even the government didn't want to get involved in it.

The Bukovina regional president39felt obliged to report the “affair of Rabbi Berisch Friedmann,” which had had extensive newspaper coverage to the Minister for Public Safety, Grafen Taaffe and the Minister of the Interior, Dr Giskra. On January 28, 1869 he filed a very complete report which revealed that the Austrian citizen, Rabbi Berisch Friedmann from Leova on the Moldavia, the brother of the Sadagura Rabbi, Jakob Friedmann, had the intention to leave the Mosaic confession and to this purpose had already taken the preliminary steps with the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan, revealing his intention and thereby accelerating its realization.

This was in the view of the regional president, Freiherrn von Muerbach, the reason why Beriniu was forcefully removed from Moldavia and imprisoned in the house of the Sadagura Zaddik

On January 13, 1869 one of these confirming documents reached the Chernivtsi Regional Court and caused the tribunal to send the Prosecutor to Sadagura, to undertake, as previously mentioned, the freeing of of Beriniu. Since it was expected that the local fanatic orthodox Jews would do the worst to Beriniu, it was ordered that Beriniu be put under the protection of the political authorities and that the necessary steps be taken.

Meanwhile, in Moldavia, after Beriniu's abduction, the news spread that because of his intended separation from Judaism, that he had been murdered. Because of these circumstances, the Moldavian government undertook mass arrests of suspicious Jews.

At the end of January, the Prefect of Botoschani, Hasnasch arrived in Chernivtsi with the mission of holding negotiations to convince Berisch Friedmann to return again to Moldavia. He had several conversations with Friedmann in the presence of Dr. Reitmann, but couldn't convince Friedman to have a private conversation with him or to reveal his plans about the future.

The Prefect then turned to the regional president and asked him to act as an intermediary in the return of Friedmann to Moldavia, which was highly desired by the Romanian government. The Prefect explained that he considered Friedmann, because of his real estate holdings in Moldavia, a Romanian citizen. The regional president determined that Friedman because of his passport and his competence was an Austrian citizen and therefore eliminated this subject from further consideration and said that a solution must be found by diplomatic interaction between the two nations.

Finally, Friedmann enjoyed complete freedom of will and was therefore in the position to make his own decisions. Neither the Austrian or the Moldavian side could exert any pressure on him.

When the Prefect suggested that a conference between him and Friedmann outside of Dr. Reitmann's house, in a government building, the regional president agreed and arranged for a meeting on January 27 between the Prefect and Friedmann in the presence of representatives chosen by them.

At this meeting, the Prefect presented his authority, received in a telegram to guarantee Friedmann, in the case that he returned to Moldavia, his personal freedom and the security of any of his assets located in Moldavia. This wasn't sufficient for Friedmann who said that he would only return to Moldavia if he had a guarantee that no demands would be made of him, that his personal freedom would be guaranteed, his fortune protected and that he could practice any form of religion that he wanted. Finally, he demanded a guarantee of a unhindered return to Romania and that he be allowed to return to Austria when he wanted and that the Romanian ministry then provide an escort for him and his party to the Austrian border and that this be assured by the regional president As a result both sides turned to the regional president with the request that the aforementioned conditions be met. The Romanian consulate contacted the Ministry and the conditions indeed were guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the Vienna member of parliament, Ignaz Kuranda had asked the Reichskanzler [CC] Grafen Beust to intervene in the Friedmann affair by sending a telegram to the Chernivtsi regional president requesting that Friedmann not be allowed to return to Moldavia before an investigation is completed.

Kuranda probably intervened at the Interior Ministry in Chernivtsi about the affair at the request of the Maskilim from Chernivtsi and pointed out the political significance of the affair to them. It was even intended to bring Friedmann to Vienna and have him meet with representatives of the government.

On February 12, as ordered by Prime Minister Von Beaust the Ministry of the Interior sent a telegram to the regional president of Bukovina. Because of this telegram, at the beginning of March, the regional president issued a report stating that he was aware of the implications of this situation and was proceeding with the necessary caution that the convoluted situation required. Friedmann had placed himself under the protection of the political authorities because he viewed himself as a victim of the fanaticism of the wide spread Chasidim sects. The regional president avoided any appearance of

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restricting Friedmann's exercise of free will so as not to give the Romanian delegation an excuse for reproach that Friedmann really was being held by the Austrian government and therefore couldn't return to Moldavia.

The regional president expressed the opinion in his report that the above mentioned Prefect, wanted at all costs to bring Friedmann back to Moldavia in order to make the highest possible profit from Friedmann's person and possessions. It was therefore in the best interest of the government to maintain the status quo in order to on one hand not hinder the progress of the criminal investigation and on the other hand to allow Freidmann time and opportunity to straighten out, as much as would be possible from here, his material affairs.

It was extremely difficult for the regional president to carry out this mission since the Prefect was a very “smooth operator” and he feared that because of the abduction of Friedmann from Leova, he could loose his position and therefore did everything in his power to set things right again. Actually, the regional president was successful in getting rid of the Prefect.

The question of his assets was, since he resolved the problem of where to reside, was Beriniu's chief concern. He had left his whole fortune of 40,000 guldens in a box in Leova. He had come from Sadagura to Chernivtsi completely without means and was dependent on the charity of Dr. Reitmann. It was clear to him that he couldn't depend on being supported by Dr. Reitmann for a long period. The fear for his material future occupied him completely. He who was used to a worry free materially guaranteed existence couldn't grasp the idea how he could live without cash. For this reason, he was willing to try anything to bring the money he had left in Leova to Chernivtsi. He therefore authorized Dr. Reitmann to go to Leova and take the 40,000 gulden from the box in his house and bring it back. On the other hand, he tried to insure the safety of his money by way of the Regional Presidium through the Austrian Consulate which he could reach by way of the Romanian government. If he succeeded in this way in recovering at least a part of his substantial fortune, he intended to remain where he was in Austria.

Meanwhile, the Romanian government made renewed attempts to convince Friedmann to return.
The Jews from Leova who were imprisoned because of Friedmann's abduction remained in prison and only those wealthy Jews who could pay the locally customary “bail” were able to go free. It was clear that the Romanian government was very concerned that Beriniu return, because he had a large following of wealthy foreign Jews who when they visited the Zaddik in Leova, brought much currency into the country. The Romanian government clearly wanted him back for purely business reasons Beriniu, however had no idea of returning to Leova. He only wanted to be free. The uncertain future, however and the disappointment he experienced at the return of Dr. Reitmann from Leova soon turned his affairs in another direction.

In Leova, Dr. Reitmann found the box with the 40,000 gulden locked. Rabbi Beer's wife was not in possession of the keys. She claimed that she never touched the box and Dr. Reitmann had to return without success to Chernivtsi. Suddenly, Beriniu was a poor man. He knew that he couldn't count on generous help from the Maskilim. He was only a tool for their propaganda and he had served that purpose as soon as he arrived in Chernivtsi by publishing an “open letter”, at the urging of Ornstein on February 5, 1869 in “Hamagid” in which he explained that he had not left the Jewish tradition which should move forwards and not backwards. He had only separated himself from the crowd of stupid and superstitious people who had surrounded and harassed him. He wanted only to serve the true God and therefore had no fear of the numberless dummies.

This letter which was certainly written by Ornstein and only signed by Beriniu was accompanied by an explanation written by three executive committee members of the Chernivtsi Jewish community, Isak Rubinstein, Dr. J. L. Reitmann and Dr. Moses Josef Fachner41in which it was declared that all the fables about Reb Ber's supposed mental illness were without grounds and that the letter published by him was authentic. With this, the goals of the Maskilim were so good as achieved.

On the other hand, Reb Ber's open letter inspired the opponents of the Sadagura to a renewed fight. The head of the opposing party of the Sadagura dynasty was Reb Chaim Halberstamm from Sancz, who for years had waged a vigorous war against the Sadagura because of their luxurious and in his mind unreligious lifestyle. After publication of this letter, several rabbis turned to Halberstamm asking what position they should take regarding Beriniu's defection. This questioning gave Reb Chaim, who was the archetype of a religious fanatic, the impulse to send an open letter to all believers in which he, like a Zealot going to the rescue of the holy community, in which he preached to those who had been lead down the false path by the Sadagura. He further explained that the Sadagura were the enemy of the Torah, that their Torah scribes were backsliders, that they don't use their tefillin [DD] and mezuzot [EE] that one can't trust the education of children to teachers that are in their camp, and that the enjoyment of meat from cattle slaughtered by their schochtim [FF] is forbidden. Yes, he even demanded the banishment of the Sadagura followers from the Jewish community and the removal of all melamidim [GG] who stand up for the Sadagura followers. In short, he described the Sadagura as traitors who are only interested in increasing their income, they eat and become fat, drive out with their gold and silver inlaid coaches, their wives wear the clothing of the Goyim [HH] and behave in a loose manner, which example, a large percentage of Jewish women follow43.

With this letter, Halberstamm started a fierce fight with the Sadagura that lasted seven years (1869-1876) and in whose course flyers and epistles for and against appeared and mutual recriminations of the nastiest sort were spread.

In most Galician communities it came to divisions and bloody excesses at which the officials had to step in. There was no community, where the synagogues of the Sadagura or the Sandecer [II] were not the stages for excesses of the worst sort. Brawls and fistfights were the order of the day in this conflict and the excesses were so great that the city officials felt it was necessary to keep the ministry in Vienna closely informed of the

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course of events. The government saw in the Sandecer Chassidim exclusively superstitious Chassidim whereas the Sadagura party, in the eyes of the officials in some measure had enlightened members. In Sanok, Bukowsko, Rymanow and in many other cities it came to terrible excesses in which the Sandecer attacked the Sadagura Chasidim in their prayer houses, threw out their prayer books and mishandled numerous followers so badly that it came to criminal prosecution. Yes, they weren't even satisfied with attacking the Sadagura in their prayer houses, but they even attacked the Sadagura in the Jewish baths where they were beaten bloody. If they met on the public street, they didn't hesitate to beat them so badly that the officials were fearful for the public quiet and order.

In many Chasidic communities one sect would forbid the other sect entrance t the bath and the purchase of goods in the store of the opponent and curses against the opponents were the order of the day. The Galicia government was forced to give special instructions to the local officials to observe this conflict between the sects, and through indoctrination and taking advantage of the influence of respected Jews, to pacify this internal fighting, and to report criminal acts immediately to the authorities, so that an investigation can be started. It was important to the government to take strong measures to avoid that the fighting between sects, especially as incited by the rabble rousing rabbi from Sandec, leads to ever larger excesses.

While this fight between Sandec and Sadagura rampaged in a furious form and divided families, layers of society and even the community, the affair of Reb Beriniu took a sudden turn.

Naturally, the Sadagura court was extremely disturbed because the increasing conflict associated with the Beriniu affair could lead to a dropping of in the number of their followers. It was therefore in the interest of the Sadagura Zaddik dynasty to convince, Beriniu, the source of the clash to go back to Sadagura and in this way, remove the real cause of the problems. Yes, they even appealed to the government, to whom they pointed out the fight in the Jewish community, to send Beriniu back to Sadagura. But soon, there was no more reason to call on the government for help. The failed mission of Dr. Reitmann to Leova to obtain Beriniu's money box was enough reason for Reb Beriniu to cut off his visit in Chernivtsi as quickly as possible. He suddenly realized that he would be a poor man without any means if he remained in Chernivtsi who must be dependent on the help of strangers. No wonder that he couldn't resist the many attempts of his wife and brother at recons illation and decided to return to the circle of his family and to move back to Sadagura. Since the justice officials had no objections to his changing locations, the regional president also made no objection to him choosing his future place of domicile.

On March 11, 1869 the Buhuscher Rabbi, the son of his brother, fetched him. Reb Beriniu left Chernivtsi and went to Sadagura. He preferred a comfortable and worry free existence to having a reputation as a free thinker and a fighter against superstition. The Maskilim soon after his arrival in Chernivtsi saw that he had completely disappointed them and that there was nothing special about this particular Zaddik. It is easy to understand why they so quickly became resigned to his leaving.
Reb Beriniu was received with jubilation by the Sadagura Chasidim. Triumphantly, they spoke of how the Zaddik from Leova wrestled with Samael [JJ] and conquered him totally. They photographed him to show the world that his beard and his Pejoth remained intact and that he now as before wore the yarmulke on his head. In all the Sadagura Chassidim congregations there was music and dancing and Reb Beriniu was celebrated as a holy Zaddik

In spite of this, Halberstamm still strived against the Sadagura Chasidim and demanded a break in relations with them45.

In order to put water on this fire, an appeal was published in July 1869 in which, he annulled his first open letter from Chernivtsi. He declared in this appeal that he had turned to the public in order to clear himself of every accusation and slander and to be pure before God and Israel. To be sure, he was in danger of stumbling and falling in the net and sinking deeper but God had helped him and set his broken spirit upright again. He would again follow in the footsteps of his pure and holy forefathers. Accompanying this appeal was a explanation written by the Sadagura Rabbis Jehuda Leib Landau and Jechiel Michael Taubes in which the opinion was expressed that every Jew would view Reb Ber's lapse with indulgence. This “open letter” had in fact the desired effect and reduced the fighting between sects considerably.

So ended the Sadagua affair with none of those involved coming out of it smelling like roses. The whole fight just showed that Reb Beriniu was just an average man, who under the load of his existence gave up the dignity of the Zaddik, but as soon as he was faced with the loss of his comfortable life, he choose to give up the appearance of a martyr and return to the circle of his relatives in order to resume his old worry free life. His affairs still occupied the officials shortly after his return to Sadagura. The Romanian government wanted, through diplomatic channels to learn more about his abduction from Moldavia. These attempts, however were rejected by the Austrian government47.

Also, Reb Beriniu was not interested in bringing any light on the subject and through his lawyers, let the Romanian court officials know that his trip to Sadagura was made of his own free will with the intention to visit his relatives and the people who accompanied him had only shown him the respect that was due a rabbi. With this explanation, Reb Ber wanted to end the affair.

He lived the last years of his life48, isolated and lonely, in a village near Sadagura, under control of his family who still feared a “back slide.” The Chernivtsi Maskilim, mainly Orenstein, who was in contact with Sadagura, claimed, that Beriniu, in spite of statements by the Chasidim that he lived his last years as a pious zaddic, was now as then, a apostate and was even seen to eat bread on Passover50.

In 1876 (13 Kislew) he died without leaving any clear proof behind as to what prompted him to leave his milieu51and after a short stay in Chernivtsi to return to the circle of his followers.


Europeanization of Bukovina

The first seeds of the enlightenment and the Europeanization of Bukovina, actually, the Chernivtsi Jews fell in the Josephinischen time of the founding of the Jewish normal school.

[Page 57]

The teachers52were the first heralds of the enlightenment. Thanks to them, a small number of European oriented Jews developed in the circle of the well-to-do population who then became the spearhead for Westernization.

Admittedly, the Chernivtsi “Enlighteners” had no clear guidelines, like those in Galicia.

In Bukovina, there were no Maskilim who were active in literature. Also, in Bukovina, there was no Hebrew Haskala [KK] writings.

In spite of the opposition of the Rabbi Tyrer, there was no battlefield here that would promote literary efforts.

Even though in the stream from Galicia, along with the Chasidim, also Maskilim penetrated, they were only effective in their own narrow circle, and wouldn't wager to carry the fight for Haskala into the broader arena.
Until the fourth decade of the XIX century, the Chasidim had the upper hand.

First with the permeation of the freedom after 1848, their influence began to dwindle and the Jewish lifestyle, externally at least, adapted to the spirit of the times by moving out of the “Jew street,” wearing European clothing, speaking German and relaxing in the observance of traditional customs – a phenomena which above all had to work on the internal development of Jewish youth.

The taking over of the community leadership in Chernivtsi by European oriented Jews as well as the founding of Jewish schools only added to this process.

Also in the 50s and 60s doctors and lawyers helped to spread the enlightenment, especially Dr. Heinrich Atlas and Dr. Reitmann to name two.

The house of Dr. Reitmann, the brother of Hersch Reitmann (1808-1886), the director of the Brodyer Jewish Central school and author of the”Kittel,” a parody on Schillers “Glocke” was for years the gathering place for the Hebrew writers and the Maskilim.

The orthodox and the Chasidic circles fought the Maskilim, but not in the way, for example they did in Tarnopol. Also, they couldn't prevent the young people, even from their circles, from taking the path of Europeanization.

In contrast to Galicia, in Bukovina, there were no fighting Maskil of note, not even mediocre Galician Maskilim writers.

No wonder, that among the enlightened, one couldn't find a Hebrew author, because the Hebrew writers who live in Chernivtsi that we read in Hebrew newspapers after the fifties are not from Bukovina but came from Galicia. They came there mostly as teachers.

Also, their number is not great. They all had their roots in Galician Haskala literature and agree on the following principals: Nurturing the Hebrew language, fighting against illiteracy and mental submission to the “wonder rabbis” and Chassidim

The presence of these authors living in Bukovina inspired the teacher, Abraham Mordechai ha kohen Schreier who had debuted in 1847 with an observation about the effect of a “wicked tongue” in the Vienna Hebrew yearbook, “Kochbei Jitzchak” published by Max Emanuel Stern. This was followed by a letter to his friend Morgenstern in which he expressed his joy that his friend had decided to nurture the Hebrew language.

Schreier is the first real Hebrew Maskil in the circle of the Jewish intelligentsia in Chernivtsi.

Then Schreier published several poems in “Kochbei Jitzchak55” in the style of the Maskil poetry in which he neither fought the Chasidim nor pressed for modern education, but only drew comparisons.

Unfortunately, very little information is available about Schreier.

The Maskilim in Chernivtsi were very impressed by Sadagura from which young “verkappte Maskilim [LL] ” who were forced out of Galicia and spread the spirit of the Maskilim in the “underground.”

Israel Halevi Teller stayed there for several years and gained a reputation as a teacher and Hebrew scholar. Another hidden Maskil was Chaim Gottesmann, who told the enlightened in Chernivtsi about the Zaddik55aCourt.

The Hebraic Haskala reached their peak in the sixty's when Chernivtsi was home to a circle of Maskilim who had made a name for themselves in Hebrew literature.

Since the establishment of a branch of the Israeli Alliance in Vienna (1873), Abraham Abisch Eisner operated out of Chernivtsi to propagandize the enlightenment and to set up Jewish schools in Galicia and Bukovina.

Eisner was an original type whose magnetic personality had a strong influence on Jewish youth.

Born in Korolowka on may 26, 1846 in a strict Chasidic milieu, he had a traditional upbringing. A brilliant Talmud scholar, as a young man he was Dajan [MM] and then rabbi in Grodek near Lemberg.

Influenced by the Lemberg Maskilim, he read the new Hebraic literature, which called forth a spiritual awaking in him. He became an enthusiastic booster of the Haskala ideas. For a period, he held the post of rabbi in his home town Korolowka and influenced the young people in this corner of Galicia with the spirit of Haskala. He then left the rabbi position and opened a book store in Lemberg which failed and then in 1878 founded a literary Hebrew biweekly publication, “Hazofeh,”of which only a few issues appeared.

As a delegate of the Vienna Israelite Alliance, he traveled throughout Bukovina and became the emissary for Haskala.

His speeches, in which he supported opening Jewish schools and teaching the children secular subjects, angered the Chasidim, all the more so because they viewed him as a apostate who had left the rabbinate, were never the less successful. He could look at a great number of young Jews who were his followers.

Eisner, in spite of his literary gift, written almost nothing, merely several articles in “Hazofe.” In 1880 in Kolomea he published his speeches in Hebrew in a book.

Actually, Eisner was erratic and turbulent and found no satisfaction in his activity.

When his work in the Alliance didn't give him the necessary spiritual satisfaction, he left the Alliance and opened in Chernivtsi, a pension for gymnasium [NN] students.

He died at the age of 35 on July 10, 1881.

In Chernivtsi, his house was the center point for the Maskilim who viewed him as a spiritual leader.

A Maskil type “sui generis” was Moses Ornstein.

Born in Lisko on January 13, 1839, he was raised in the strict Chasidic spirit, in the house of his father, Joel from Turka who for years was one of the chief gabaim in the Sadagura Zaddik court.

Already in his youth he dabbled in the Haskala literature which was enough to prompt him to drop religious customs and uses and to appear on Yom Kippur with a bun in his mouth55.

Called an “Apikores-le-hachis [OO] , he had to leave his parents house and move to Romania where he earned his living as a teacher. Here he was one of the first Haskala spies and a radical fighter of the Chassidim.

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Translators Endnotes

M Halachistin: Halaka is law established or custom ratified by authoritative rabbinic jurists and teachers. Colloquially, if something is deemed halakic, it is considered proper and normative behavior. Return

N Josephinischen: I assume that this means laws from the period of the Emperor Joseph. Return

O Ab beth din: The head of the rabbinical court. Return

P schechita: Referring to the rules dealing with ritual slaughter of animals so they are kosher. Return

Q Talmud Torah: Subjects taught in chedar. Return

R Machsikei Schabbath. Return

S Machse le-Ewion. Return

T Hachnassath Kallah: Society that helps prepare a bride for marriage. Return

U Maskilim (Maskil singular): (Heb., "the enlightened ones"). Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Jews who engaged in secular rationalistic studies and facilitated the acculturation of Jews to Western society; members of the Haskala. Return

V Chasidim: Followers of the movement of Hasidism founded in the first half of the 18th century by Israel Baal Shem Tov. Return

W Zaddik: A general term for a righteous person in Jewish tradition. More specifically, the spiritual leader of the modern Hasidim. Return

X Geltgaben: Money given to Hasidic rabbi for advice. Return

Y Gabaim: Manager of the affairs of a Chasidic rabbi. Return

Z Aschmadaj: Synonym for the Hebrew word for demon or Satan. Return

AA treyf: Food that is not kosher (prepared in accordance with ritual laws). Return

BB Elijahu Hanawi. Return

CC Reichskanzler: Prime minister of the Austro Hungarian empire. Return

DD tefillin: Small black leather cubes containing parchment scrolls inscribed with Shema Yisrael and other Biblical passages, bound to the arm and forehead and worn by men at weekday morning prayers. Return

EE mezuzah: A parchment scroll with selected Torah verses (Deuteronomy 6.4-9; 11.13-21) placed in a container and affixed to the exterior doorposts. Return

FF schochtim: A butcher that slaughters animals according to Jewish ritual law. Return

GG Melamidim: Teachers in Cheder (Jewish school). Return

HH Goyim: Anyone who is not Jewish. Return

II Sandecer: Another Chasidic sect. Return

JJ Samael: Another name for Satan. Return

KK Haskala: Jewish rationalistic "enlightenment" in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. Return

LL verkappte Maskilim: Maskilim with yarmulkes (skull caps). Return

MM Dajan: Judges in a rabbinical court. Return

NN gymnasium: European secondary school for boys that prepares students for the university . Pupils attend for 9 years which leads to the Abitur degree. Return

OO Apikores-le-hachis: A heretic out of spite. Return

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