“Sadagura” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Romania, Volume 2

(Sadhora, Ukraine)

48°21' / 25°58'

Translation of
“Sadagura” chapter from Pinkas Hakehillot Romania

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1980


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Nicholas R. M. Martin


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Romania, Volume II,
pages 469-472, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1980

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Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

SADAGURA (In Yiddish: Sadagera) a town in the district of Cernauti,[1] eight kilometers north of the district center.
The nearest railway station was a distance of two kilometers away in Rohozna, which today is part of the former Soviet Union.

Jewish Population

Year Number Percentage of Jews
in total population
1774 103  
1776 186  
1873 3,591  
1880 3,888 80.4
1910 3,410 74.0
1914 5,060  
1919 900  
1930 1,459  
1941 654  
1945 5 families  

Until the End of World War One

The Beginnings of Jewish Settlement

Sadagura was established in 1770. During the Russian-Turkish wars [1766-74], a foundry was created for the production of Russian coins. The first Jews had already settled there and were employed in the foundry as craftsmen and laborers. Later, Jewish traders arrived in Sadagura, drawn to the town because of privileges granted to them. The town continued to develop when it was annexed into Austria in 1774. General Spleny invited Jewish merchants to the town, who were compelled to build houses for themselves immediately upon arrival. The Jews were allowed to build a synagogue on condition that they also construct a town hall building.

In 1775, the residents of Sadagura were exempted from paying taxes for six years, and they were given licenses to practice in their professions. However, shortly thereafter, persecution of the Jews began in the context of measures that General Enzenberg[2] initiated against them. In 1782, 42 families, consisting of 151 people, were expelled from the town. In 1789, the Austrian authorities decreed that all Jewish residents must leave the town before 1791. As a result of numerous efforts made in the capital, Vienna, the authorities allowed 34 of the Jewish families to remain in the town, even though the district governor proposed that all of the Jews remain. The expulsion was not carried out in its entirety, due to the opposition of the Christian estate owners.

Within the framework of efforts undertaken by the Austrian government to train the Jews as farmers, seven Jewish families from Sadagura settled on the land in 1808. In the same year, another hundred Jewish families settled there, whose occupations were in the fields of crafts and trade. In 1809, Baron Mustatza intervened against the expulsion of the Jews from the place. In 1810, a new decree declared that all Jews not involved in farming and all recent Jewish settlers would be expelled.

In the middle of the 19th century, many Jews migrated from Galicia to Sadagura in the footsteps of the admor,[3] Rabbi Israel Friedmann of Ruzhin, who settled there. The district governor informed the government authorities that the good of the State required encouraging this zaddik to settle there, since it would lead to the economic development of the whole Bukovina region.

From 1863 until the outbreak of World War I, a Jew served as the mayor of Sadagura. Generally, the Jewish community leader was also the mayor.

Economic Life

Among the Jews of Sadagura, there were traders, craftsmen, peddlers, and unskilled laborers, such as water drawers, who brought water to the town from far away. Among them were also estate tenants and even estate owners. The Jewish craftsmen were sometimes found as heads of craft guilds which also had Christian members. There were streets in Sadagura in which certain types of craftsmen were located. For example, there was a barbers’ street and a bath attendants’ street. Wagon owners, blacksmiths, and tinkers were located in a special quarter, close to the mansion of the estate owner, the Baron Mustatza. In these streets, there were also three synagogues. The “Wagon Owners’ Guild” was in the “Poale Zion” [Workers of Zion] building in the aforementioned quarter. This guild assisted its sick and needy members. The quarter also served as a weekly and yearly marketplace for horse trading. The Sadagura traders supplied horses to the Austrian army, to the Viennese aristocrats, and to several Jewish families who dealt in beef export. These professions were passed on from father to son. The Jews also established a number of factories in Sadagura: a beer factory (established in 1791), a vinegar factory, and a match producing factory.

Up until World War I, there was a lively trade between Sadagura and Russia because of the town’s close proximity to the border, and because of the flow of Hasidic followers from all over Russia to the rabbi’s house. From Russia, they brought in tobacco, grain, and wool, and in return, they sent embroidered goods. Following the war, with the economic severance from Russia, the economic importance of Sadagura diminished, and the Jewish settlement within it dwindled.

The town’s poor congregated in a special street known among the people as “Egypt,” because of the frequent plagues that struck there and the ringworm disease that was known locally as “Pharaoh’s disease.” Here the water drawers, the porters, the grocers, the shoemakers, and the unskilled laborers were situated, among them being the seasonal fruit pickers. The lawyers and bankers were located close to the public institutions, including the courthouse and post office, and near a mansion belonging to a northern estate owner.

The Community’s Organization

Because of a system introduced by Emperor Josef II, the Sadagura community was dependent on the community of Cernauti, which appointed two representatives from Sadagura. Only in the middle of the 19th century did Sadagura become independent. In 1859, the Boian community became independent from the town.

In a general agreement of 1891, Sadagura was included among the 15 communities in Bukovina that were recognized by the authorities, and 16 small settlements from the region were amalgamated into it (about 3,000 people). Quite often, a member of one of these settlements would serve as the community leader. The Jews of these communities made use of the mikveh and slaughter house belonging to Sadagura, and also the Talmud Torah school, the local yeshiva, and the cemetery. The great synagogue and the cemetery were founded in the 18th century. On the synagogue street, there were an additional 11 synagogues, some of them especially for certain types of craftsmen. The tailors and the wagon owners had two or three synagogues. The “Gmilat Hesed” company had its own prayer house. The Ruzhin Hasidim and the Kossov Hasidim each had separate synagogues. The prayer house known as “Sacrament Schul” served the earlier risers, who were known locally as “Bilkefresser,” i.e., praying early so as to be the first to partake in the shacharit loaf.

Rabbis and the Hasidim

In the first years of its existence, there was no rabbi in Sadagura, and the services of the rabbi from nearby Boian were required. The first rabbi known to us is Rabbi Yeshaia Liquornik*, who served in the rabbinate from 1807 to 1833. In 1888, in addition to the rabbi, there was also a dayan [judge].

The center of religious life in Sadagura was the house of the admor of Sadagura. The head of this dynasty was Rabbi Israel Friedmann of Ruzhin (1796-1850), the great grandson of Rabbi Dov Baer, the Maggid [preacher] from Mezhirech. Rabbi Israel was persecuted by the Russian authorities and incarcerated in a Kiev prison, from which his Hasidic followers released him and brought him to Moldavia and then to Cernauti, the capital of the Bukovina. In the beginning, the rabbi thought about settling in Cernauti, however the maskilim[4] of the city obstructed his intentions. In contrast, Baron Mustatza, owner of estates within the boundaries of Sadagura, proposed that he settle in Sadagura. The governor of the Bukovina province, Isacescul, also supported this. Russia wanted to extradite Rabbi Israel, however the Austrian government, at the head of which stood Metternich, refused the extradition on the grounds that Russia had not specified the crime for which he was accused. This refusal came after efforts by a number of Galician and Viennese rabbis on behalf of Rabbi Israel. Initially, however, the Austrian authorities tried to convince Rabbi Israel to settle in Galicia, and only after four years of negotiations, in 1842, did Rabbi Israel receive the right to settle in Sadagura.

In that same year, Rabbi Israel had already built a luxurious mansion in the town, and in 1850, he added a number of buildings on the grounds for his sons. Life in the admor’s court was distinguished by luxury and splendor. He had a magnificent carriage at his disposal, harnessed to four horses. The admor wore festive attire. The mansion’s orchestra played before the Hasidim at Purim, and in the evenings following Yom Kippur and Simchat Torah. The synagogue on the grounds was large enough to accommodate 1,000 worshippers. Its ceiling was inlaid with precious stones, and a large crystal lamp illuminated the place. The admor even had an adjacent room in which he prayed by himself, and only on rare occasions did he appear among the worshippers.

Around the admor’s court, many hostels were built where the Hasidic followers who had come from far away would lodge. On sabbath days and festivals, they would dine at the table of the zaddik [lit. righteous one] in a large hall which had room for 1,000 diners. Rumors spread among the people that the zaddik intended to build a temple according to the plan of the temple in Jerusalem, and that the admor would show himself to be the king of messiahs. Thousands of Hasidic followers arrived in Sadagura from Podolia, Galicia, and Moldavia. Christians, too, as well as Polish and Russian aristocrats sought him out and requested his advice and blessings. Other admors, heads of other Hasidic groups of the time, also saw him as a leader. Because of him, in the eyes of the Hasidim, Sadagura was regarded as a “Holy City.”

Rabbi Israel worked for the good of the Jews in all fields, those in the Diaspora and those in Eretz Yisrael.[5] In 1814, he approached Sir Moses Montefiore to intervene on behalf of the Jews in Czarist Russia. Rabbi Israel regularly collected large sums of money for the Jewish settlement in Palestine and served as the “President General of Russia and Volhynia” in Palestine. Once a year, the General Manager in Palestine would visit Sadagura to serve him his accounts. In 1843, Rabbi Israel ordered that a plot close to the Western Wall be purchased, on which the Russians were about to construct a church. Rabbi Israel managed to preempt purchasing the plot, and the synagogue, “Tiferet Yisrael,” was built there in memory of Rabbi Nisan Bak, one of the important Hasidic leaders in Jerusalem. Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin passed away in 1850, at the age of 54.

Discussions and Torah commentaries of the admor have been collected in the following books: Beit Yisrael (Iasi 1907, Petrakov 1913, Lublin 1930, New York 1959), Yeshuot Yisrael (Padgorza 1904, Jerusalem 1955), Keneset Yisrael (Warsaw 1906, Warsaw 1909, Bnei Brak 1959), Nachlat Yisrael (New York 1951), Irin Kedishin in three parts (Warsaw 1875, Bartfeld 1907, Miyaletz 1914), Pe’er Leyesharim (Jerusalem 1921), and Tiferet Yisrael (Jerusalem 1945).[6]

His replacement was his second son, Rabbi Avraham Yakov, who occupied the seat in Sadagura for 33 years. He built a second mansion in an enlightened style, which was regarded as one of the most luxurious buildings in all of Bukovina. The mansion’s servants wore uniforms, and the dining utensils were made of gold and silver. When Baron Mustatza made plans to build a church close to the mansion, the zaddik imposed a boycott on him, and the baron withdrew his plans, for fear of the financial consequences of this boycott. In contrast to this, the maskilim of Cernauti attacked the Hasidic movement and the admor’s lifestyle in the newspapers. In 1856, rumors spread that the admor of Sadagura had been arrested with twelve of his closest followers on charges of forging Russian monetary securities, and that a printing press had been found in the attic of his mansion. On the basis of these rumors, the admor’s estate was confiscated, as was a huge sum of money that had been collected for the settlement in Palestine. In 1869, there was an incident involving Rabbi Avraham Yakov’s brother, Rabbi Ber (known as Beriniu),[7] the fourth son of Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin, when the admor [Ber] was serving the town of Leova. One day, Rabbi Ber relinquished his seat, in protest against the grand life led in his father’s and brother’s houses. He was brought back by force to Sadagura, and when he failed to respond to pressure by his brother, he was locked up by him, making use of a doctor’s certificate attesting that Rabbi Beriniu had lost his mind. The maskilim of Cernauti exploited this event to their own objectives. The Hebrew writer, Moshe Hornstein, invited the government legal advisor to Sadagura, and he in turn forced Rabbi Avraham Yakov to release his brother. Rabbi Beriniu moved to the capital city, where the maskilim there were afraid to give him accommodation for fear of the Hasidic boycott, and he lodged in the house of a lawyer who handled his affairs. Rabbi Avraham Yakov approached the lawyer and even sent members of the family to convince Rabbi Beriniu to return. In addition, the commander of the Botosani district in Moldavia came to Cernauti in order to convince Rabbi Beriniu to return to Leova. A severe quarrel began over this matter between the Sadagura dynasty and Rabbi Hayyim Halberstam, the admor of Zanz, who strongly objected to the exhibitionistic lifestyle of the Sadagura house. The dispute, which was reflected in published commentaries of both factions, continued on for seven years, until the death of Rabbi Hayyim of Zanz. The folk singer, Velvel Zbarzher,[8] dedicated a number of his songs to this dispute. An anonymous author wrote a German play by the name of The Rabbi of Sadagura, which ran for some time on stage. The dispute between the Sadagura Hasidim and the Zanz Hasidim spread to all parts of Galicia, until the Viennese authorities intervened in favor of the Sadagura Hasidim, declaring them “progressive.” The struggle reached Palestine, where the General Leader of Sadagura, while standing at the Western Wall, declared a boycott of Rabbi Hayyim of Zanz.

In 1869, Rabbi Beriniu returned to Sadagura, reconciled with his family, and was warmly received by the Hasidim of Sadagura. He published an appeal in which he declared remorse for his errors, and remained in Sadagura until his death in 1876.

When Rabbi Avraham Yakov died in 1883, he was replaced by his second son, Rabbi Yitzhak (the eldest son, Rabbi Shlomo, having died two years previously). In 1886, Rabbi Yitzchak moved his seat to Boian, as his brother, Rabbi Israel, remained in Sadagura despite the family norm of having only a single heir in the same locality. The head of the dynasty in Sadagura, however, continued to be his brother, Rabbi Israel, who from then on had to share the prestige and honor with Boian. Rabbi Israel died sometime before WWI.[9] Rivalry developed between his sons regarding his replacement. Some of the Hasidim tended towards Rabbi Aaron, his first wife’s son, and others towards Rabbi Yakov, his second wife’s son. With the outbreak of war, the rivalry ceased after the admors fled to Vienna.


The Jewish children of Sadagura were educated in the heder framework – in the teacher’s homes. However, a Talmud Torah school also operated, and the main teachers were brought in from Galicia. In the admor’s home and also in the home of the city’s rabbi, Rabbi Yochanan Landau, the boys studied Talmud and scriptures. Later, a school for boys was established under the auspices of the Baron Hirsch [Fund].

Available to the community was a home for the aged, and a number of charitable organizations which included the “Gmilot Hesed” society, which gave interest free loans to minor traders and craftsmen.

A branch of the Zionist movement was established in Sadagura immediately following Herzl’s public appearance, and later a Zionist youth group by the name of “Kriya Neemana” began. In 1910 a branch of “Poale Zion” was established, and in 1911 a “Maccabean” student organization was formed. Prior to WWI, the Zionist youth in Sadagura engaged in political activity in support of the Jewish candidates, Leon Kellner and Meir Ebner, in the Austrian parliamentary election.

With the outbreak of WWI, the Russian army conquered Sadagura and pogroms were brought against the Jews of the city. They murdered several of them and exiled many others to Siberia, the elderly among them dying from hardships along the way. The rioters destroyed the zaddik’s luxurious house as well as most of the Jewish houses.

Between the Two World Wars

After the war, several Jews who had fled the city during the war returned to Sadagura, however many preferred to settle in Cernauti. Several of those who returned found shelter in the rabbi’s houses, which were reconstructed. Following WWI, under Rumanian rule, a Pole was appointed Mayor, and his relationship with the Jews was equitable. He even allocated sums of money to assist needy Jewish people. In addition, the Jewish community received assistance from the Joint [American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee] and from former Sadagura residents living in the US.

After WWI, training centers for pioneers were established on estates in this region. In this period, Sokolow and Weizmann[10] paid a visit to Sadagura.

In 1938, there was an anti-Semitic mayor (who belonged to the Cuza party), who operated with the support of the Ukrainians in the city, and in his speeches he incited to kill the Jews.

With the outbreak of WWII in 1939, many refugees came to Sadagura from Poland. These were mainly Christians, as the Rumanian authorities refused to grant entry permits to the Jews. In spite of the warm welcome given to the Polish refugees by the Jews, they demonstrated their hatred for the Jews in public, and they even abandoned houses when they learned that the owners were Jewish.

Among the former Sadagura residents who emigrated to the US, the writer, Michael Wurmbrand (1879-1952), should be mentioned.

The Holocaust

At the end of June, 1940, Sadagura was annexed, together with all of northern Bukovina, into the Soviet Union. Jewish possessions were confiscated, and in the spring of 1941, many of the Jewish merchants and craftsmen of Sadagura were exiled to Siberia. None of those exiled ever returned.

With the outbreak of war between Rumania and the Soviet Union in 1941, northern Bukovina was recaptured by the Rumanian armies. With the arrival of the first Rumanian soldiers in the city, a group of young Ukrainians was organized under the leadership of the teacher, Vladimir Rusu, their purpose being to destroy the Jews of Sadagura. Members of the “National Guard” informed the Christian population that it was their right for a period of twenty-four hours to do as they saw fit to the Jews. On the early morning of July 7, 1941, eighty-six Jews were pulled from their beds – men, women and children –and led half naked to the town hall. From there, under cover of darkness, they were taken to a forest on a nearby hill, stood next to previously dug pits, and all of them shot. Seventy-three of them were killed. The remainder managed to escape. Present at the slaughter were fifty Rumanians and Ukrainians from among the residents of Sadagura. The following day, the Rusu gang took the rest of the Jews from their houses and led them to the town hall. Meanwhile, Jewish houses were looted of all their contents. Rusu organized a panel of judges who were to determine who among the Jews was a Communist. Rusu, himself, had been an active Communist in the days of the Soviet occupation. A number of Jews who were declared suspects were retained in the town hall building, which was converted into a concentration camp. The rest were released in the Jucica Noua quarter. An additional four Jews were murdered by army guards. In all, the gangs and the army killed 186 Jews in Sadagura, including entire families. Many Jews hid in attics, and from there they fled to the forest. The Jews that remained there were put to hard labor.

On Saturdays, the Mayor of Barboi customarily brought out Rabbi Landau and other Jews dressed in festive attire in order to clean the streets, in full view of the Christian residents, who took malicious joy in the suffering.

Several of the Storojineti Jews were taken to the Sadagura concentration camp. The camp commander ordered them to clean the toilets using cups, plates, and their bare hands.

In August, 1941, the rest of Sadagura’s Jewish population were exiled to Transnistria. On their way to the railway station, many of the ill perished – women and children. They were transported to Bessarabia in cattle cars, and from there they walked until they reached Transnistria. During this prolonged journey, many of the exiled collapsed exhausted. In Transnistria, many died of hunger, the cold, plagues, and torture, during the hard labor that was carried out under watch of the German Army.

After the War

The surviving exiles from Transnistria did not return to Sadagura, instead settling in Cernauti under Soviet rule. Many of them managed to get through to Rumania and from there to Palestine. Of the tens of prayer houses in Sadagura, and the Jewish cemetery, nothing remains.[11]

In 1948, the teacher, Vladimir Rusu, was tried and given a life sentence of hard labor, his citizenship revoked for ten years and his belongings confiscated.


Schulsohn, S.I.: Sadagura – Juedisches Lexikon V, 35-36;

Gelber, N.M.: Die Geschichte der Juden in der Bukovina, ed. H. Gold, pp. 12, 17, 21, 24, 27, 29, 33, 35, 41, 42, 44, 48, 49, 52-56, 64, 65;

Schmelzer, Arie Leon: Die Juden in der Bukovina (1914-1919) p. 68;

Schulsohn, Samuel Josef: Die Rabbinerhöfe in Sadagora und Bojan. ed. H. Gold, pp 85-89;

Verax: La Roumanie et les juifs etc. pp. 329, 342;

Reifer, Manfred: Ausgewaehlte Historische Schriften etc. pp. 51, 57, 89, 92, 111, 125, 126;

Mircu, Marius: Pogromurile din Bucovina si Dorohoi etc., pp. 61-65;

Autorul masacrarii evreilor din Sadagura si-a primit pedeapsa. – Viata Evreeasca, IV, no 204, Bucaresti, 1948, p. 4;

Horodetzky, S.A: Israel aus Rushin. – Encyclopedia Judaica, vol 8, pp. 642-644.


(added by the translation project coordinator)

[1] Cernauti (Rumanian) was commonly known as Czernowitz before World War I and is now standardly referred to as Chernovtsy or Chernivtsi (today in the Ukraine). Sadagura is known today as Sadgora.

[2] Karl Freiherr von Enzenberg, Chief of Military Administration, 1778-1786.

[3] Admor is a term of great respect, suggesting “our father, our rabbi, our teacher.”

[4] The maskilim were advocates of the Haskalah (“Enlightenment”) movement to advance modern European culture among Jews, tending to oppose traditionalism and Hasidism.

[5] Subsequent references to Eretz Yisrael [Land of Israel] are rendered as Palestine.

[6] Any of these dates (translated from Hebrew) may have been one year earlier, because the Hebrew year begins before its equivalent Gregorian calendar year (e.g., 1906 as presented here could be anywhere from about September, 1905 to about September, 1906).

[7] Also known as Rabbi Dov, or Dov Baer, or Berisch, of Leovo (1827-1876).

[8] Velvel Zbarzher, 1826-1883.

[9] Israel of Sadgora was born in 1853 and died in 1907; his older brother, Yitzchak of Boyan, was born in 1850 and died in 1917.

[10] Nachum Sokolow (1860-1936), Zionist leader and Hebrew writer; and Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), Zionist leader and first President of Israel.

[11] According to Chernivtsi-born Iosif Vaisman, who last visited Sadgora in 1990, almost all synagogue buildings and the cemetery still exist; the Ruzhiner rebbe’s grave is well-maintained and is a place of pilgrimage for Sadgorer Hasidim from many countries.

* Note from Jack Likwornik:
It is mentioned that there was no rabbi there till Rabbi Yeshaia Liquornik in 1807. However, his father Josef Moshe Liquornik (my ancestor) was the rabbi from from 1770 to 1800. He previously was known as the Maggid of Komarno from where he came.

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