“Crăciuneşti”
Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Romania, Volume 2
(Romania)

47°58' / 23°59'

Translation of “Crăciuneşti” chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Romania

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1980


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Romania, Volume II,
pages 256-257, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1980


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[Page 256]

Crăciuneşti

(Romanian: Crăciuneşti, Hungarian: Karácsonfalva,
previously: Tiszakará-csonfalvá, and the Jews called in Kretshinev)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Donated by Madeline Foster

 

It is a village in the Maramureş, about 10 kilometers northeast of the district city of Sighet.
Most of its residents were Ruthenians (a Slavic tribe).

Jewish Population

Year Population % of Jews in
the General
Population
192099654.2
193088947.7
194191146.0

 

Until the Outbreak of the Second World War

The first Jews arrived in Crăciuneşti at the beginning of the 18th century. In the census of 1728, two Jewish heads of families were mentioned. The first was Alter Moshe, who was a lessee in the estate of the local nobleman Georgii Pogány. He had a wife and two children. The second was a Jew named Hers, who was apparently a bachelor, and lived under the protection of the noblewoman Mariae Balog. These Jews did not remain for a long time, for the names of three different Jews were mentioned in the census of 1735. The first was Yosef Izák, whose family consisted of a wife, three children, a Jewish farm foreman, and a Jewish servant. He had a horse and two cows. He was a lessee in the estate of Ferencz Szegedy. There were two women, Rachel and Sara, who had no husbands, but had four children. They had two cows. They were under the protection of Gersi Szerentsi. Yisrael Moshe had a wife and seven children. He had a servant, and owned a horse and a cow. He benefited from the protection of Ádám Pogány. All the Jews came to Crăciuneşti from Galicia. We have no information about whether the Jews lived in Crăciuneşti in a constant manner.

Like most of the villages of Maramureş, the Jews of Crăciuneşti earned their livelihoods from the following sources: A sizable portion earned their livelihood from the lumber industry in all its forms: cutting trees in the forests, floating them down the Tisa River to the interior of Hungary; and working in sawmills, all of which were Jewish owned, and a sizable portion of whose employees were Jewish. Most of the Jews of Crăciuneşti had small farms next to their houses to assist with their livelihood, as well as small plots of land outside the city boundaries. Some of the Jews of Crăciuneşti were shopkeepers and innkeepers. Others were tradesmen or day laborers. Most of the Jews of the town were poor, and they toiled greatly to bring forth their bread from the ground.

The community began to organize itself at the beginning of the 19th century. There was already a synagogue and a Beis Midrash from 1830. The cemetery is even older. In that period, a mikva [ritual bath] was built, and several communal institutions were set up. In 1834, a fierce dispute broke out in the community, the echoes of which spread throughout the country: The rabbi of Sighet, Rabbi Nisan Teitelbaum, forbade the use of the services of the shochet [ritual slaughterer] Reb Moshe of Crăciuneşti, who was a Hassid of Kosow. The Hassidim of Kosow, who formed the majority and were influential throughout the villages of Maramureş, did not heed the ban of the rabbi.

At the number of Jews of Crăciuneşti grew, the community became firmly based and

[Page 257]

new institutions were established for the study of Torah, such as: Chevra Shas [Talmud study group] and Chevra Mishnayos [Mishna study group]; for charity and benevolence, such as: the Tzedaka Gedola organization, Bikur Cholim [visiting the sick], and various institutions for performing charitable deeds.

Rabbis: At its outset the community of Crăciuneşti was affiliated with the rabbinate of Sighet. After Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Teitelbaum arrived in that city in the summer of 1858, he appointed the son of his brother-in-law Rabbi David Natan Deutsch as the first rabbi of Crăciuneşti. He published the book of his father, Rabbi Yosef Yoel Deutsch, the rabbi of Adrov in Galicia, “Responsa Yad Yosef” (Sighet, 5634 – 1874), with the addition of his own responsa and notes. He died in 1879. His book on Torah “Nefesh David” as published a long time after his death (Seini, 5689 – 1929). The final rabbi of Crăciuneşti was Rabbi Avraham Chaim Reinman, who published his book on Pirkei Avot shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War (Satu Mare, 5700 – 1940). This rabbi headed a yeshiva in which approximately 35 students studied during the 1930s. He died in 1941.

At the end of the 19th century, the Admor [Hassidic leader] Rabbi Meir Rosenbaum, the son of Rabbi Mordechai of Nadworna, settled in Crăciuneşti. His Hassidim set up a court in Crăciuneşti and built a Beis Midrash for him. He became known as a wonder worker and a master of salvations. He died on 2 Tammuz 5678 (1918). His son Rabbi Eliezer Zeev Rosenbaum continued his dynasty as an Admor. He moved to Sighet after the First World War, and he continues today in the city of Rechovot in the State of Israel (see Sighet entry).

After the First World War, when half of the region was transferred to Romanian rule, the town was cut off from its primary source of livelihood – the transport of trees in the river, for the entire river and its tributaries were now within the borders of Hungary. This economic crisis in the life of the town, and additional crises, caused many of the Jews of Crăciuneşti to leave. During the first post-war decade, 1920-1930, the population of the community declined by 104 Jews. Most settled in cities in Transylvania and Regat (the kingdom). A small portion emigrated from the country, mainly to the United States.

The decline in the Jewish population of Crăciuneşti continued during the 1930s. We do not have precise knowledge of the number of Jews in the town during the period of the Holocaust, but it is almost certain that their numbers barely rose during the decade from 1931 to 1941. With the increase of anti-Semitism in Romania during the years 1939-1940, the Romanian residents oppressed the Jews of the town, particularly in the economic sphere.

 

The Holocaust

A further decline of the situation of the Jews of Crăciuneşti too place in 1941, when the Hungarian authorities issued an edict that people must present their Hungarian citizenship certificates within a brief time. Tens of Jews of Crăciuneşti whose papers were not in order were deported to Galicia in the summer of 1941, even though they had all had lived in the town, as did their fathers before them, for many years. The deportees were given over to the German einsatzgruppen soldiers, who took them out to be killed in Kamenets-Podolsk.

In 1942, Jews of the age 20-40 were drafted to forced labor (we do not have the numbers). Many of them sent to Ukraine. Most of them met their deaths there due to hunger, backbreaking work, and minefields.

At the end of April 1944, all the Jews of Crăciuneşti were rounded up and transferred to the Sighet Ghetto (see entry), from where they were deported to Auschwitz.

There is no Jewish community in Crăciuneşti today.

YO'C


Bibliography

Greenwald, Yekutiel Yehuda: Matzevet Kodesh Volume I: Sighet and Maramureş district, New York, 5712 (1952), page 30; A Millennium of Jewish Life in Hungary, New York, 5710 (1950), page 234.
Nathanson, Yosef Shaul: Responsa Shoel Umeshiv, Third edition, Lemberg 5636 (1876), Volume I, chapter 291.
Shik, Moshe: Responsa Mahara'm Shik, Section Even Haezer, Lemberg 5644 (1884), chapter 154.
Horowitz, Meshulam Yissachar, Responsa Bar Livai, Volume II, Lemberg 5632 (1872), chapter 16.
Teomim, Avraham, Responsa Chesed LeAvraham, Second edition, Lemberg, 5658 (1898), Section Yoreh Deah, chapter 17.
Drimer, Shlomo, Responsa Beit Shlomo, Volume I, Lemberg 5637 1877), Orach Chaim, chapter 25.
Shmelkes, Yitzchak, Responsa Beit Yitzchak, Yoreh Deah Section, Premisla, 5655 (1895), Volume II, chapter 92.
Ashkenazi, Yoel, Responsa Mahar'I Ashkenazi, Munkacz, 5653 (1893), Yoreh Deah section, chapter 20.
Deutsch, Eliezer, Responsa Pri HaSadeh, Chapter I, Pecs, 5666 (1906), chapter 90.
Arik, Meir Responsa Imrei Yosher, Chapter I, Munkacz, 5673 (1913), chapter 166.
Tenenbaum, Shraga Tzvi, Responsa Neta Sorek, Munkacz, 5659 (1889), Orach Chaim Section, chapter 9.
Schwardron, Shalom Mordechai HaCohen, Responsa Maharsha'm, Section II, Piotrków, 5665 (1905), chapter 229.
Teitelbaum, Chaim Tzvi, Responsa Atzei Chaim, Sighet 5699 (1939), Yoreh Deah Section, chapter 17; Even HaEzer section, chapters 6, 23, 26.
Pfeffer, Alter Shaul, Responsa Avnei Zikaron, Volume I, Sighet 1923, chapters 40, 97; Volume II, Satmar 5691 (1931), chapters 28, 69.
Sperber, David, Responsa Aparkasta DeAnya, Satu-Mare, 5600 (1940), chapter 112.
Cohen, Yitzchak Yosef, Responsa of the Rabbis of Transylvania During the 19th century, Areshet, Volume Iv (5732, 1972), pp. 278-279.
Magyar-Zsidó, Oklevéltár, vol. VII, Budapest 1963, pp. 139, 306.
Magyar-Zsidó Lexikon, Budapest 1929, p. 1005.

 


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