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[Page 88]

Cimpulung Moldovenesc
(Romania)

47°32' / 25°34'

Translation of chapter
“Kimpolung” from Volume II:

Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina

Edited by: Dr. Hugo Gold, using information provided by Dr. Chaim Gelber

Published in Tel Aviv, 1962

Translated by:

Jerome Silverbush


This is a translation of the chapter “Kimpolung”, Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina
{History of the Jews in the Bukovina} Edited by: Dr. Hugo Gold,
using information provided by Dr. Chaim Gelber, Published in Tel Aviv, 1962


There can only be assumptions about which is the oldest Jewish community in the Kimpolung district. The first Jews who arrived there were probably commercial travelers who followed the caravan route out of Hungary, over Siebenbuergen to the Moldova and who set up rest stations in the villages and towns along the way. The presence of Jews in Kimpolung had already been documented in 1684. From the few available records, we know that the small Jewish population lived in harmony with the native population and were not subject to any restrictions. They were counted amount the respected inhabitants of the small town and occupied themselves with farming, probably the auxiliary trades and taverns and bars. There was even social interaction with the Christian population. This can be seen from a contract, according to which a young Jew who couldn't get along with his step-mother, left his father's house, was baptized and received the portion of his dead mother's fortune that was owed to him from his father.

After the occupation of Bukovina by the Austrians, the Jews in Kimpolung as well as other towns in Bukovina suffered through hard times. It practically rained restrictive rules. One case known to us illustrates the situation. Isak Abraham who lived in the Kimpolung district had a contract to lease a pub, but the government in 1780, issued order 1561 forbidding the fulfillment of this contract. The reason given for the order was that the producers of the beverages and other citizens should not be put at the disposal of the Jewish lessee. The Austrian officials of that day made it clear that they would create and interpret laws it a way that would suppress the Jewish population to the advantage of the Christian population, reversing cause and effect if necessary. In this case, the producers of the alcoholic beverages were to a higher degree responsible for the damage they caused than the Jewish bar owner.

The Jews in Kimpolung did not have their own prayer house. On the basis of the patent of May 27, 1785, they were attached to the main community in Suceava and had to pay them taxes. On April 24, 1794, the Kimpolung community sent a request to the Kimpolung district government asking for relief from this tax to the Suceava community, since they only got back 10 fl. which was not enough to cover their expenses. The plea was signed by nine Jews in Hebrew script. The names were: Lazar Hopke, Isak Hausierer, Lazar Openauer, Simon Hausierer, Salomon Brinschik, David Schlefer, Aron Unterhaner, Abraham Apter (Agten), Jakob Trassler. The request was turned down since the small number of Jews in the town weren't sufficient to form their own community and they had to continue to make payments to the Suceava community. First in 1859 were the Jews in the town able to become independent from the Suceava Jewish community.

The Austrian officials wanted to use all possible means to reduce the number of Jews in Bukovina. To this end, they differentiated between Jewish farmers, Jewish craftsmen and Jewish businessmen. With the ordinance of November 28, 1789 Jewish businessmen had to leave their homes and settle in either Chernivtsi, Siret or Sucava. Enforcement of this odious measure was put off several times and in the end it proved unenforceable, but it caused the Kimpolung Jews a great deal of vexation. At that time there were 9 Jewish families in the town with a total of 46 souls, 21 men and 25 women. When General Enzenberg, an enemy of the Jews, at the urging of the minister of war ordered the expulsion of Jews who had entered Bukovina after the year 1769 and who didn't pay more than 4 fl. yearly, 20 Jews (11 men and 9 women leave) had to leave. Also later when Bukovina became a district of Galicia the classification of Jews by their trade constantly threatened their existence. According to an 1807 report, 4 Jewish families in Kimpolung were professionals or in business and one year later in a report from May 18, 1808, there were 6 families who were not active in farming. The only Jewish farmer in Kimpolung was Abraham Agaton. Just to get temporary permission to live in Kimpolung, a Jew had to seek official authorization. In the Chernivtsi state archives can be found a request addressed to the imperial-royal government commission under the date of September 30, 1809, vouched for by the Kimpolung district administration in which a Falticeni Jew Jankel Chaim asks for permission to live in Kimpolung for 6 months in order to collect the debts owed his father-in-law in order to aid his mother-in law, Golde Schlaefer. The mother-in-law is obviously the widow of the above named David Schlaefer. Out of the attempt follows that he, at least as a secondary profession lent money to people who needed credit. Because the widow asked her son-in-law for help in collecting the money owed her husband, the fact can't be dismissed that the debtors were farmers in the town or the surrounding area who couldn't be expected to pay without male intervention.

Jewish farmers gradually disappeared because they couldn't develop themselves in the villages and the better possibilities for earning a living in the cities lured them to move to the cities. As they began to get equal rights as citizens and the restrictive laws were lifted, a strong migration took place from the flat lands into settlements in the cities. According to the census of 1880, out of the 5534 residents in Kimpolung, 799 were Jewish (14.4%). Under the liberal Austrian regime trade and commerce developed. Because of that, the number of Jews in the cities grew steadily and they grew in importance. Among them were found most of the representatives of the intellectual professions and the leading businessmen of the city. Among others should be named the lawyers Dr. S. Hutmann, Dr. Ignaz Raschkes, Dr. Samuel Terner, Dr. Friedrich Pichler, Dr. M. Heyer, Dr. David Koppelmann, Dr. Rudolf Marian, Jakob Bar, Dr. Friedrich Haas, Maximilian Koch, Jakob Schneider, Jonas Feyer, Dr. Schmidt ( a brother of the famous singer Joseph Schmidt), Dr. Rosner (Vama), Dr. Moses Kimmelmann, Benno Schieber, Jaques Schieber, Dr. Rudolf Medilanski, Saul Kern, Max Kern.

Among the doctors can be named: Dr. Jakob Mehlmann and his son Dr. Theodor Mehlmann, Dr. Josef Harth and his son Dr. Heine Harth, Dr. Schajowitz, Dr. J. Sobe, Dr. Bernhard Friedl, Dr. Berl Merdler, Dr. Niederhoffer, Bez. Artz Dr. Hauslich, Dr. S. Klein, Dr. N. Nadler, Dr. M. Wassermann, Dr. Salome Mischel-Gruenspan (daughter of the rabbi Dr. Mischel), Dr. Salome Wohl-Ungar, the dentists Dr. Josef Glasberg and Dr. Jakob Geisinger, further the doctors who died in Transnistrien: Dr. Hammer, Dr. Hermann Holdengraeber, Dr. Simche Schaechter and Dr. Fischl Siegel. Also druggist Albin Schnarch who died in Transnistrien.

As bankers should be named: Josef Harth, Leib Schlaeffer and son David. As industrialist: Siegmund Picker and son (Friedrich), Julius Kreindler, Dr. Arkadius Bar, Adolf Gelber (sons Dr. Chaim and David Gelber), Meier Kissmann and Baruch Sternschuss, brothers Leon and Sami Reichmann, Tobias Kern (lime production), Leib Schlaeffer and Son (mills), Jossel Tarter and Jean Bercovici (mills), Mendl Wassermann (mills).

Noted businessmen that should be mentioned are: Osias Einhorn, Naftali Bleiweiss, the Rostower brothers, Abraham Lehrer, Wolf Sobe, Osias Moses Schneider, Jossel Meer and son Moses, Samuel Spetter, Salomon Spetter, David Besner, Schmiel Wagner (cafetier), Nutzi Hirschhaut (restaurant), Koppel Schlaffer (Weinhalle), Moses Glasberg (Weinhalle), Abraham Kreisel and Sons, Carl Meth, Beer Brothers (Leon and Jakob), Mizzi Schieber, Distelfeld Brothers, Bruno Katz and many others.

The population took an active part in the Jewish political life of Bukovina especially as the Peoples Council movement started (1910 and a new umbrella organization of the Bukovina Jews was created.

In 1913, he last year before the First World War, there were 3500 Jews in Kimpolung among whom, there were approximately 1000 tax paying members of the community.
According to the statute of March 21, 1890, the executive committee had 3 members and the community council had 6 members. The first president of the community was Kalman Kahan, followed by Gabriel Storfer, Dr. Juster, Samuel Bar, Dr. Josef Gluecksmann, Dr. Arkadius Bar, Dr. Fischl Siegel, Friedrich (Fritz) Picker, Dawid Drach and Lawer Benno Schieber.

Among the most respected and valuable members of the executive committee were: Abraham (Adolf) Gelber, Schlome Rosner, Israel Burg, and Elias Schwarz.

The rabbis were: Rafael Hammer, Dr. Wolf Mischel and Josef Rubin. The business office of the community was headed by Max Goldenberg, the treasurer was Nute Kron. There were Jewish representatives in the city council: Abraham Tanner, Adolf Kreisel and Samuel Spetter. There was also a sickness support organization lead by Samuel Barth. Almost the entire Jewish population had a Zionist orientation.

The directors of the organization, “Theodor Herzl” were for many years the gentlemen Gabriel Storfer, Isak Kohan and following them were Dr. Fischl Siegel, Friedrich Picker, Dr. Chaim Gelber, and others.

At the head of the general “Jewish Ladies Organization,” were Leonore Zaloszer and Eveline Gluecksmann. After founding of the “Wizo” the Zionistic Women were very active in cultural and social areas. They also worked in support of the National Fund. The first president of the Wizo was Mrs. Hedy Siegel (nee Bianovici). Vice presidents were Mrs. Ema Gelber and Czarna Berkovici. Active members were Mrs. G. Kissmann, Beer, Gisela Sternschuss, Sponder, Dora Spetter, Regina Josiper, Locker, Landesberg, Schapira, Katz among others.

The Jewish national academic vacation society “Awiwia” was very involved in Zionist activities. With very few exceptions, the members were the academically educated Jewish residents of the city. The organization embraced a very social life style, regularly had conventions during the vacation time, and was a leader in Zionist activities in a revisionist orientation. The “old boys” and the “aktivitas” wore academic caps and ribbons at festive occasions which was very much respected in the Romanian city of Kimpolung. A number of the “old boys” of Awiwia live in Israel: Dr. I. Glasberg (Tel Aviv), Dr. David Reichmann (Jerusalem), Dr. Max Drach (Tiberias), Dr. J. Sobe (Tiberias), Dr. Kubi Geisinger (Jerusalem) and Dr. Chaim Gelber (Tel-Aviv).

The first presidents of Awiwia were Engineer H. Sponder and Dr. Chaim Gelber.

After the collapse of the Hapsburg monarchy in 1918 Bukovina and with it, Kimpolung came under Romanian control. At first, nothing changed in the business affairs of the Jews, but politically they were subject to the arbitrariness of the various Romanian regimes and bureaucracy. The situation became worse from year to year and a period of systematic persecution and exclusion from commerce began. The tragic end was foreseeable.

The more the Jewish element was pushed out of public positions, the stronger the Zionist longing grew. The Zionist funds grew and the Jews had to turn to an inner cultural life. Bukovina's top Zionist executive selected as his trusted representative in Kimpolung the highly effective official, Israel Wassemann.

Presidents of the Zionist organization were Dr.Mosche Niederhofer, Israel Wassermann, and Efraim Hechtlinger. Mosche Sobe served as secretary.

Also a young poet who wrote in German and Yiddish and through his premature death was prevented from developing his talent celebrated the Jewish Kimpolung: Kubi Wohl (1911-1935). Even as a child he loved music and the beauties of nature. With his death, a promising lyric dramatic talent was lost to us.

The “exception laws” against the Jews in Bukovina at the time of WWII brought the Jews, also in Kimpolung untold sorrow and finally lead to their complete destruction. When the law concerning the confiscation of Jewish property was put into effect the Kimpolung city government reduced the city size to 300 square meters in the city center in order to confiscate Jewish property outside of the city border. The land owned by Leib Schlaeffer and David Drach was affected by this decree.

On October 11, 1940, the Prefect of the district revoked the permits of Jakob Apter, Salomon Rosenerg, Nussen Katz, Markus Weiner, Markus Altschuler and David Ellenbogen to run businesses, since they closed their establishments on Rosh Hashanah, October 5th in order to go to the synagogue. On October 12, the Day of Atonement, all Jewish homes were plundered and the Jews were assaulted by the infamous Legionnaires who received their orders from Berlin. The spoils were loaded on wagons and driven to the “Green House” (casa verde), the headquarters of the Legionnaires. The valuable library of the rabbi, Moses Josef Rubin was destroyed. He was mistreated and was given a document to sign which stated that he had hidden dynamite in the synagogue to be used in acts of sabotage. Because he refused to sign this disgraceful document, he and his son were harnessed to a cart loaded with stolen goods and driven at revolver point, under a rain of blows to a specific location. All the synagogues in the city were robed of their valuables.

The few Jews who returned to Kimpolung after WWII, shared the fate of the Jews who remained in Romania under the Communist regime which only rarely allowed emigration to Israel rarely and then under extremely difficult conditions.

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