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The story of a city, which is a regional capital is inseparably tied to the history

of the region. In order to tell the story of Jewish Czernowitz we must repeat
information that has already been published. A certain amount of overlapping
is unavoidable. In spite of that, the attempt will be made in this article to fill
out the story of the city with a more subjective representation. One who has
experienced the city with his heart, who hailed the growth of the city and
mourned its fall will endorse this attempt.

The topography of the city

The waters of the Pruth flow along the edge of the loess covered Pololien
Steppe Plateau, to the Southeast. While on its Western bank at the place
where it approached the Bukovina foothills of the Carpathians, fertile fields
disappear into the almost endless lowlands, the land on the right side of the
river rises steadily. The forested hill, Cecina blocks the river's path and forces
it to make a bow around its lovely cliffs. On its peak are found the fallen ruins
of a castle, probably one of the forts built by the Hungarian king, Ludwig the
Great (1342-1382) to protect the trade routes to the Byzantine against
ambushes by the Tartars. The trade caravans had to cross the Pruth at the
place opposite where the fort was situated in order to continue on to the
Moldavian cities of Suczawa and Jassy. Considering the steeply rising terrain
and the associated difficulties of transport, it was necessary for the travelers
to stop here and gather their strength. For this reason, the merchants
established a rest station here and this laid the groundwork for the
blossoming of the city of Czernowitz. There were also Jewish merchants in the
caravans.

Even at the turn of the century, the trip from the Pruth valley into the city
was very difficult for people and freight. The small poorly nourished horses
had difficulty pulling the carts uphill and when the horses couldn't go any
further, the teamsters would whip the animals without mercy. Then there
would be much screaming and yelling, a situation typical for old Czernowitz.
Only later, when more powerful draft horses were used and passengers were
carried in elegant wagons fitted with rubber tired wheels, did the situation
improve. Also, the use of granite paving blocks for the roads led to easier
transportation of freight. You couldn't imagine the cityscape without the horse
drawn taxis. Long rows of them stood before the train station and the hotel
"The Black Eagle." on Ringplatz and in the Dr. Rottgasse. In addition, there
was a narrow gauge electric streetcar (since 1894) which ran from the
Volksgarten station (south rail road station) along the old Reichsstrasse
through the center of the city to the Pruth bridge. Small horse drawn wagons
waited at the Springbrunnenplatz to serve the poorer residents, but they
couldn't compete with the "electric" and gradually disappeared from the
picture. For a period, a Jewish firm ran horse drawn multiple seat wagons for
transportation of the public. The means of transport were never completely
motorized. The automobile was to the last, a rare means of transportation
and they were owned mostly by officials and the rich. That the transportation
business was completely in Jewish hands was accepted by the Christian
Cernowitz residents without question.

The cities of Moldovia didn't have ghettos for their Jewish residents and Jews
who were allowed to live in Czernowitz could take rooms wherever they
pleased. In spite of that, they settled in a particular area of the city, East of
the railroad station and lower Main Street. Also in the period in which the
richer Jews had dwellings in the higher part of the city, this area of the city,
almost completely inhabited by Jews was called the "Jewish quarter." It
included the Bahnhofstrasse (the railroad station was in the Pruth valley), the
Springbrunnengasse, the Synagogengasse, the Alpenplatz (later called
Theodor Herzlplatz, the Judengasse as well as the Dreifaltigkeitsgasse to the
West and the connecting streets between the two. The first Jewish settlers
probably preferred this location, because they could have water without the
troublesome and costly work of digging a well. In this area could be found an
artesian well after which the adjacent street (Springbrunnengasse) was
named. It was a round structure built of sandstone out of whose center, pipes
radiated like friendly arms delivered uninterrupted streams of water. One had
to bring along a short piece of pipe to direct the water from the outlets into a
bucket. This monumental fountain was destroyed when in 1894 modern
underground water and sewerage pipes were run through its location. The
next generation never got to see it. At the other end of Springbrunnengasse
there was another productive fountain which was covered by tastefully
designed scrollwork well house which was topped by a half moon which was
visible from a great distance. This symbol justified the name,
"Tuerkenbrunnen" (Turkish fountain) and indicated that the fountain was built
during the time of Turkish rule, that is, before the year 1775, when the Turks
turned over Bukovina to the Austrians as thanks for the diplomatic support
Austria gave them during the Turkish Russian war (1768-1764). The ritual
bath (built in 1840), later named the Kaiserbad was situated by the
Tuerkenbrunnen. The long time proprietor was named Kalichstein. The waste
water from the bath raced through the "Jar" or Judengraben (Jewish ditch)
down to the Pruth. For many years, the Jar represented the Eastern boundary
of the Jewish quarter.
There were many small streams running through the city, which with the
progress of building gradually disappeared. At one time a stream ran through
the lower Dreifaltigkeitsgasse originating from a spring at the corner of
Fleischergasse. Before the introduction of pipes to distribute water, residents
of the area used this source to supply their water needs.

Around a spring, there would be much activity, trade and commerce. The
common people called the place where all the streets inhabited by Jews
intersected, the "Ham." It was a world unto itself. Already in the early
morning hours it bustled with life. Men hurried to the prayer houses or to
their businesses. Housewives did their shopping. There was the shop of the
Jew, Feuer in which all sorts of necessities could be found. Across the street
Ruthian farmers from surrounding villages who had come to town to find
casual work crowded in front of a tavern leased by a Jew. There were many
arguments among them some of which led to fist fights. A city policeman was
constantly posted there. He never smiled because he was aware of the
dignity of his position. On Sundays, he wore his parade uniform and a rooster
feather fluttered on his black hat. In spite of that, the youngsters from the
surrounding streets made fun of him and outran him when he tried to chase
them down. The policemen, mostly of Ruthian nationality knew only a
smattering of German. The higher police offices were mostly occupied by
Jews (Gerbel and Nathan Loebl).

The wholesale bakery belonging to Mordechai Weissmann's heirs was nearby.


In the basements of the one story houses, women sold bread, pretzels, other
baked goods and sweets to passersby and noisy children in whose
outstretched arms a copper red coin lent the necessary emphasis. On the
east side of the plaza a small alleyway led to the "Jewish hospital" and later
to the old folks home. Shops of all sorts lined the Springbrunnengasse. Used
clothing stores stood side by side. Nearby sharp aromas escaped from the
butcher shops and fish stores. The transactions and bargaining took place
with much loud conversation. The noise lasted until late into the evening. On
the street which went by the Altmart, stood the tables for dressed poultry. On
the small slope that later became Theodor Herzlplatz, salesladies sold their
wares. The demand for eggs, vegetables, and poultry was supplied by
country women from the surrounding region whose white kerchiefs made
them visible from a distance and the Swabians from the suburb of Rosch,
where their ancestors, had settled since the reign of Kaiser Joseph II. In the
surrounding houses, craftsmen of all sorts had established themselves. There
was also no lack of inns, taverns and canteens in which the regulars in
addition to a good drink, were offered fish prepared in a traditional manner.
It seems that in the 80s of the previous century, the craftsmen received
official permission to practice their trades in certain streets. We are reminded
of that by the street names which are still in use even though the craftsmen
have long since moved into other districts. There was a rope maker,
carpenter, book binder street, likewise a furrier, watch maker and butcher
street. On the other hand, were the shoemakers, plumbers, bakers, barbers,
copper smiths, locksmiths, tinkers, glaziers, tailors, brass foundry men, gold
and silversmiths, blanket makers, wallpaper hangers, saddlers, bridle maker,
musicians, room and sign painters, stove fitters, that is all the trades that
were mostly practiced by Jews, but were not concentrated in particular
streets, probably because their number was not great enough. Other trades
like wagon maker, blacksmith, bell maker, chimney sweep, vase craftsmen,
and with few exceptions, mason were avoided by Jews. Members of the
graphic trades, to which the Torah scribes, the engravers and the book
printers belonged enjoyed special respect. Grave stone making which was
hereditary in the Picker and Steinmetz families belonged to this group of
trades.

In the Jewish quarter, alongside of merchants and craftsmen, there were also
representatives of the free trades like ritual slaughterers and synagogue
singers. The teachers often lived in a single room that during the day served
as a cheder 1. A large, well attended cheder was founded about 1890 by
Leiser Gross. To the poorest of the poor belonged the synagogue servant,
members of the burial society "Cherwra Kadischa," peddlers, etc.
Representatives of the intellectual professions and better situated merchants
chose their dwelling place outside of the Jewish quarter.

In general the Jewish quarter around the turn of the century gave the
impression of a closed settlement of people with not much education, who
were behind the times, but who were cooperative and tried to help each
other to make life easier. Many of the Chasidim a were followers of a "wonder
rabbi" in who they saw a exalted figure, a heaven sent helper in need, a
teacher and enlightener. The prescribed prayers were repeated three times a
day. The older men wore black coats called "kaftans, didn't shave themselves
and had side curls, the younger ones already preferred European clothing.
Their family life was exemplary. Pious to a fault, they spent their days with
little joy waiting for the promised arrival of the Messiah who they were
convinced would appear shortly. Beyond this district lived the Jews mostly in
obvious prosperity. They were better educated than their brothers and sisters
in the Judengasse, their children already attended Christian schools, spoke
among themselves German in addition to Yiddish, but they didn't experience
the intimacy of community life. With their Christian fellow citizens, the
government officials relocated from the West, the officers of the garrison,
professors, Polish merchants and other such people, there was little or no
social contact. The suburbs Rosch, Kaliczanka, Klokuczka, Horecza and
Manasteriska were villages whose population consisted mainly of farmers.
Only rarely was a Jew owning a drygoods store or a bar a permanent resident
of the suburbs.

The Historical Development up to 1775 (a short overview)

The first documented proof of the existence of Jews in Czernowitz was a


contract of the Moldavian Prince Alexander the Good with the Lemberg
Merchants Guild. which bore the date October 8, 1408. However, it can't be
concluded from this document that Jews didn't lived in Czernowitz either
permanently or temporarily, at a much earlier date. It appears that because
of the confusion of war in this region, Jewish settlements existed only with
interruptions. The place was deserted when it was plundered by enemies only
to be settled later when the opportunity arose. Because of this, the living
tradition which binds together communities was lacking.

The conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, opened a new chapter


in world history and caused serious consequences for the princedoms of
Moldavia and Wallachia and for the Jews of Czernowitz. The Turkish sultan
was now the boss and the local princes became kings and had to purchase
the right to sit on their throne and to wage war together with the neighboring
princes with repeated presents at the gate. Moreover the mutual mistrust led
to bloody incidents. Also, the strained relation with Poland resulted in war
which caused great suffering for the population. In 1509, Czernowitz was
plundered by the Polish Hetman Kaminetzky and in 1538 was likewise burned
to ashes by a Polish army. The Moldavian King Alexander Lopusneanu (1552-
1561 and 1564-1568) issued terrible ordinances against the Jews and only
relaxed them when commanded to the Sultan through the intervention of the
Duke of Naxos Don Josef. It is noteworthy that the Turks who kidnapped
young boys in the lands they conquered and after educating them put them
in the slave army of the Janitscharen, made an exception with Jewish boys.

At that time, many Jews came from Western Europe to Czernowitz, some were
Ashkenazim, called "Franken" who fled persecution in Germany and some
were Sephardim. While the Sephardim moved further, the Ashkenazim
remained in the city and brought the Yiddish language with them. During the
short period of peace before the outbreak of the Turkish Polish war in 1600,
commerce developed. The connection stretched from Nuremberg to
Adrianopel and brought Armenian, Greek and Jewish businessmen great
profits. About that time in Czernowitz, as in other cities of Moldovia a form of
Jewish self government, called the "Kahal" modeled on the example of the
Polish Jews was developed. It was called "Bresla Jidoveasa" (Jewish guild). The
director carried the title "Starost." He was supported by the community
elders. The elders together with the Starost and the rabbis were elected,
although, the results of the election had to be confirmed by the Prince. The
community was allowed a restricted autonomy and self government.
Nevertheless they were powerless to protect themselves against the spiteful
actions of the current ruler. The fact that the Jews had the same clothing and
language as other residents of Moldovia brought them no advantage.

About 1650, the Jews of Poland and the Ukraine were murdered by the bands
of Chmielnitzkis. The few that could rescue themselves fled in part to
Moldavia and settled there. They brought Jewish knowledge with them and
stimulated the intellectual life of the Community. Also many Jews came from
Russia. The many following wars between Russia and Turkey placed a heavy
burden on the residents. The Jews of Czernowitz had to temporarily leave the
city. A change came when the Turks obliged themselves in the peace treaty of
Balta Liman (1749) to leave the principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. The
rule of the princes was limited to seven years and a privy council (Divan ad
hoc) was created. The rulers of this epoch called Phanartioten attempted
through extortion of the citizens to get the money they had to deliver to the
court of the Ottoman empire to pay for their positions. The Phanarioten in the
expectation of higher income from taxes promoted the settling of foreign
merchants. The Jews were treated differently than other taxpayers. A report
about those times came from the Jesuit Boskovich who accompanied the
English envoy on a trip from Constantinople to Poland and because of bad
weather was forced to remain two weeks in Czernowitz. He met many Jews in
the city in whose houses his traveling companions were quartered. The Jews,
he reported, occupied themselves in the export business and were subject to
many oppressive restrictions. From a 1774 document one sees that they
didn't even have the right to build a synagogue. They had to send a request
to the Divan ad hoc in Jassy requesting permission to rebuild the synagogue
that was burned down by Russian soldiers.

Because the Jewish population of the city consisted of heterogeneous


elements there were many contrasts that sometimes even led to quarreling.
In the first quarter of the 18th century, the starost Cerbu (Hirsch) was at the
head of the community. One of his successors was Lazar Israel who held his
office through 35 years into the Austrian occupation. He harbored no feelings
of Jewish solidarity. In 1777, he requested in a memorandum to the Lemberg
High Command, that the "foreign Jews" be removed. He died in 1782. The
rabbis during that period were Rabbi Meir ben Jechiel (died 1740), rabbi
Simche Seew from Kuty (died 1780) and rabbi Baruch ben Schlomo (died
1793).

The City under Austrian Rule (1775-1918)

On August 31, 1774, the Austrian general, Gabriel Freiherr von Spleny
entered Czernowitz at the head of his troops. He reported to Vienna about the
situation in his memorandum of December 10, 1774. In this document, he
talked about the Jewish population in Czernowitz. During his administration,
the situation of the Jews basically remained unchanged. His follower was Karl
Freiherr von Enzenberg (chief of the military government from 1778 to 1786).
He was a man that was as smooth as an eel, obeisant to his superiors, lacking
in education and honesty with a deeply rooted hatred of Jews and a despotic
nature. The Czernowitz Jews saw themselves for the first time subject to the
Western form of Jew hatred from whose consequences, in that period of
absolutism they were severely affected. Enzenberg's goal was to drive all the
Jews out of Bukovina. He tried to achieve this goal through administrative
measures, which he couldn't immediately enforce, since he needed the
confirmation of his superiors, the Lemberg High Command and the minister of
war in Vienna. He used Jewish spies who would report on Jews that secretly
tried to circumvent his orders. One of the spies was the braggart Josef
Schmuel Pultower who Enzenberg confirmed in a perfidious maner as starost
even though Mendel Isaak had been elected. He forced the Jews of the city to
provide the unreasonably high sum of 100 ducats for the city clock and later
asserted that the extorted sum was a voluntary contribution. He used force to
try and prevent the Jews repeated complaints to the authorities about his
ordinances and when a delegation finally succeeded in getting an audience in
Vienna, he played the innocent. During his rule, corruption was rampant. That
in the end, his campaign to "nullify the Jewish element" was only partly
successful, and in 1782 he was censured by the minister of war, was less due
to a change of outlook in the minds of the responsible authorities , than to
the French revolution which caused the spirit of the times to become more
liberal. In spite of that, Captain Auditor von Algey, the writer of a report in
which he demanded rights for the Jews who paid the Oath of Submission on
October 12, 1777 was reprimanded because of his liberal opinions. The
hardest punishment besides unfair taxation was to be exiled from the land.
Official permission was required in order to get married and among the
requirements for this permission was proof of schooling in the German
language. If a Jew wanted to go abroad to marry, he had to pay a "departure
tax" of 10 ducats.

The "Tolerance Patent" issued by Kaiser Josef II did little to relieve the
difficulties of the Jews. The Kaiser and his advisors wanted to force the Jews
to become farmers, but only as tenants. They would have to work the land for
20 years and convert to Christianity before they owned the land. This
condition was unacceptable. Many Jews preferred to emigrate, especially
since the document requesting civil rights which was given to the Kaiser on
the occasion of his visit to Czernowitz on June 17, 1783 was unsuccessful. The
Jews who remained behind were forced to send their children to Christian
schools and to take German names. (Kaiser's patent of July 13, 1787). The
officials entrusted with the carrying out of this ordinance soon discovered a
new source of income. They only gave the Jews the names they desired when
they were handsomely bribed. The poor received names intended to make
them the objects of ridicule. The Jews stubbornly resisted the order to send
their children to Christian schools. They preferred to pay fines and let their
children continue to visit the cheder.

The placing of Bukovina under Galician rule (1786) started a new wave of
Jewish immigration to the land. In spite of a strict official ban, many Jews from
Galicia left their homes to move to neighboring Czernowitz. Here the pressure
of taxes was less. The Bukovina Jews were still not recruited for military
service and the possibilities for earning a living were better. The authorities
were powerless to stop this secrete infiltration. The repeated measures
meant to send "undesirable elements" back to the countries they had
"sneaked" in from were always withdrawn because of the difficulties of the
affected people. In the end many Jews found ways and means to remain in
the land. Also long time Jewish residents sometimes found ways to help the
new arrivals by adding them as family members to their residence permits.

In spite of the government harassment, an economic upswing could be


observed. Already in 1787, there were 91 Jewish owned homes on the road
from Czernowitz to Lemberg. At the same time, there were also setbacks. At
the time of the war against Napoleon, Russian troops who marched through
Czernowitz repeatedly plundered Jewish owned property and commerce in
agriculture was severely harmed by Russia's annexation of Bessarbiens
(1812). The beginning of industry could be observed. The production of
potash was almost entirely in Jewish hands as was the production of alcohol.
The first beer brewer was Juedl Schmiedenauer. Jews liked to run taverns, but
Christians held the concession for owning brandy inns and the Jews had to be
satisfied with leasing them

In 1789, the old Moldavian form of Jewish self government was discontinued.
In the place of the Kahal, the Josephine Jewish system, patterned on the
Kultusgemeinde 2 form of government practiced elsewhere in Austria was
adopted. The community had the right to self government, but many
problems were created because of the differences between the very
conservative Chasidim and the enlightened Maskilim 3.

In 1791, the Community, acquired the field hospital owned by Jakob Weibel
for 100 dukats. The Executive Committee at the time consisted of Hirsch
Gerbel and Juda Leib Bayer. The officials would not allow the Jews to build
their own hospital. The Jewish hospital was first opened in 1853 in place of
the old shelter for the homeless.

At the Board of Director election in 1804, Solomon Bayer, Beer Rosenthal and
Salomon Zahn were elected. The aforementioned Josef Schmul Pultower
protested the election results on the grounds that the winners had entered
the land illegally. A new election was held in which Aron Amster, Juedl
Schmiedenauer and Salomon Bayer were chosen for the Board of Directors.
Only Solomon Bayer was able to produce a school certificate to verify his
qualifications. Knowledge of the German language was a prerequisite for
holding office.

Little was done to educate the young people at that time. The general
(Catholic) schools in the city, a boys and a girls school accepted Jewish
children if their parents were among the "tolerated" Jews. The children were
first examined for cleanliness. This demeaning procedure was not used with
Catholic children and the Jewish children were assigned special desks (school
ghetto). The Jews were very reluctant, also on religious grounds, to send their
children to these schools and satisfied themselves with the traditional
chedars. Likewise, they refused to send their children from the missionary
school which opened in 1841 and in which instruction was given in Polish and
would gladly have accepted Jewish children.
Since 1750, Rabbi Israel Josef Ehrendorf officiated as rabbi in Czernowitz. His
successor was Rabbi Baruch ben Schlomo (died 1794). With the first district
rabbi, Rabbi Chaim ben Schlomo Tyrer, called Chaim Czernowitzer (1760-
1813) in 1789, a significant personality assumed the leadership of the
Community. He was the author of numerous theological papers, fought
valiantly but unsuccessfully against the enlightenment movement and
against the hostile measures the government enacted against the Jews. He
left the city in anger in 1807. Since no one worthy to be his successor could
be found, the rabbinical lawyers, Moses M. Loewy, Meier Reiner and Efraim
Zelniker took his place. Only in 1833, Rabbi Isak Schimschon Horowitz-Meisels
was elected as rabbi. He was the spiritual leader of the Community until
1870.

Thanks to the efforts of the Board of Directors members, A. N. Rosenzweig


and Welwel Juster as well as the Community secretary Wolf Schiffer, the great
synagogue located in the Jewish quarter was completed in 1853. In addition,
there were many private prayer houses like the "Schul" of the Rabbi Chaim
Czernowitzer at Bahnhoffstrasse, no. 2 and the "Luttingersche" prayer house.

The city had two cemeteries. The old one (perhaps the same as the "Turkish"
cemetery named in an old document) was started in 1700 and used until
1866. In the same year, the new cemetery in the suburb of Horecza was put
into use. In 1940, 80,000 could be counted in this cemetery and for the ultra
orthodox there was a special section. There were many monumental grave
stones there. The dome on the funeral parlor could be seen from afar.

The revolution year of 1848 saw Bukovina separate from Galicia (proclaimed
on March 4, 1849) and brought with it several joyously greeted freedoms,
which were quickly taken away by the reactionary regime. In spite of that
progress couldn't be halted, if not in the political, then in the cultural arena.
More and more of the population were caught up by the new currents of the
Enlightenment. The proponents of this movement were immigrants from
Galicia who believed that they served progress when they attacked the walls
that the rabbis had erected for hundreds of years to preserve Judaism in a
hostile world. The advocates of these new ideas didn't realize what danger
they were subjecting themselves and their people to. Blinded by the light of
profane knowledge they opened the fight against everything conventional
and shrank back from no consequence. In Czernowitz, however, the
enlightenment clashed with another current, that of the Chasidim, which had
captured a large part of the population. The Rabbinic courts of Sadagura,
Wiznitz and Bojan were near enough and their adherents were devoted
protagonists of religious fanaticism. Extremists and rational people stood face
to face and defended their positions. The contrasts became more extreme.
The events of the next decade took a dramatic turn.

Some of the torch bears for the Enlightenment in Czernowitz were the
pioneer of Jewish theater, Abraham Goldfaden and other well know names
like Welwel Zbaracazer-Ehrenkranz, Mordechai Schreier, Chaim Gottesmann,
Moses Ornstein, whose famous student was Karl Emil Franzos, the private
teacher Abraham Abisch Eisner, Israel Teller and the book dealers David
Apotheker and Jehoschua Widmann. Along with them worked intellectuals like
the poet Matatja Simche Rabener, the nephew of the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Igel,
further Moritz Amster (1831-1904), workers of the "General Newspaper of
Judaism" and the "Vienna Pages" and the lawyer Dr. Heinrich Atlas and Dr.
Reitmann, who was an advocate of German education. The Enlightened found
understanding in increasing numbers of the population where there was the
inclination to escape the "spiritual straight jacket." Its influence can be seen
in the fact that the Jews of the city gradually let their sons study at the
gymnasium 4 despite the fact that from the year it was founded, 1803 until
1820, it didn't have a single Jewish student and that the Israelite German
elementary school (with instruction in German) was opened in 1855. The
education of youth conformed with the modern spirit, which wanted or not,
led to an assimilation with the Germans.

The Chasidim and the Orthodox, saw in the desire for worldly knowledge, the
greatest danger to the survival of Judaism. Assimilation with the surroundings
appeared to them as the first step in the decline of Judaism. Since their
misgivings were based on experience, they found the courage for a
meaningful rejection of the new direction. With all the means at their
command, they fought for the maintenance of the traditional life style. For
that reason, they would rather see girls attending public schools than boys,
since the male carried on the religion (my guess at what he is saying).
According to statistics that were preserved, in 1871, 11 girls and 1 boy
attended public school in Czernowitz, in 1875 it was 69 boys and 224 girls
and in 1880, 229 boys and 541 girls. In the rapidly increasing number of boys
attending public school, one can see the success of the Enlightenment..
Compared to the new educational institutions, the Chedar was losing its
significance. The ultra orthodox were also conservative in their costume.
They wore a black silk caftan in the Polish style, short pants, white stockings
and on Shabbat, a fur hat. If a son wore modern clothing, in the eyes of his
father it was a violation of sacred commandments. The Jew should
differentiate himself from his neighbors in all things.

The orthodox leaders were honorable citizens like Herschl Welwel Juster, Josef
Schmelzer, Samuel Schwarz, and Aron Goldfrucht. Among the free thinkers
were Isaak Rubinstein, an educated liberal thinking man and Markus Zucker,
the generous philanthropist , the most prominent leader. The Orthodox had
no understanding and no sympathy. Among them were fanatics who for
example in 1851 rioted in the upper Judengasse because of the hiring of a
ritual slaughterer who was not acceptable to them, so that the police had to
arrest the mob leaders. As three years later, a free thinking rabbi, Dr. Lazar
Igel (1825-1892), in spite of the protests of the Orthodox, was appointed as
instructor in oriental languages at the Lemberg university and taught the
course in German, the embittered Orthodox left the community(1872). For a
period of time, there were two communities, an Orthodox with Rabbi
Horowitz-Meisels as its head and the progressive community with Dr. Igel as
its spiritual leader. That, however didn't end the conflict. Only after repeated
mediation attempts by the mayor of the city and the regional president was a
compromise reached (1875). The installation of two rabbis, a progress rabbi
with the title of chief rabbi and an orthodox rabbi called the "Aw Beth Din"
was agreed on. Dr. Igel was confirmed as chief rabbi and after Rabbi Horowitz
declined the position (1870), Benjamin Weiss (1841-1912 was selected as Aw
Beth Din. An event of crucial importance for the Jews in Austria was the
passing of the Land Ownership law of December 21, 1867. It brought the Jews
the desired equality with the Christian residents including the removal of
restrictions on property ownership and freedom of movement within the
boundaries of the state 5. The immediate result of the new law was an large
increase in the Jewish population. According to the census of 1880, there
were 14,449 Jews in Czernowitz, in 1890, the number was 17,359, in 1900 the
number rose to 21,586 and in 1910 to 28,613. Jews from the surrounding
villages where their houses were destroyed during the war, moved into
Czernowitz, increasing the number of Jews in 1940 to approximately 50,000
which was about half of the total population.

There was no longer a legal barrier to the blossoming of the Jewish "spirit of
business" in trade and industry, to the free choice of professions and to
progress in politics. In Bukovina and especially in Czernowitz, it became
apparent what Jews could accomplish when no artificial barriers were set up
for them. Social obstacles and a swelling thinly veiled anti-Semitism which in
other crown lands harmed the Jewish minority were hardly felt in Bukovina
because of the numerous nationalities there and the numerical superiority of
the Jews.

The long holding peace and the opening of the Czernowitz university (1875),
open to all students with its worldly faculty, attention to the arts and
sciences, the rise of commerce, the widening of the railroad network, building
of roads, expansion of the sewer lines, gradual admission to public posts,
improvement in the justice system, the mail, telegraph and telephone service
and last but not least, liberal legislation, were the levers which facilitated the
ascent of the Jews.

The community, at one time, the only recognized representative of Jewish


interests had to reduce circle of influence. They were restricted to religious
affairs and charities like religious elementary schools, care for sick, the
elderly and orphans. They were, however still responsible for maintaining
marriage, birth and death records.

With the completed compromise, however, the conflicts were not eliminated.
They were very deep and reflected the religious attitude of both partners.
One who wanted fervently to pray to his god saw unhappily in the synagogue
the presence of men who not only had distanced themselves from the
traditional costume and vernacular but also were suspected of not hallowing
the Shabbat 6 and not following the ritual dietary laws. The large Synagogue
was, because of its location in the Jewish quarter, the Lord's house for the
Orthodox. Only a few free thinking Jews, in as much as they still felt bound by
the old cherished traditions attended the synagogue on Shabbat and
holidays. They were looked at, however with a jaundiced eye. As rabbi, Dr.
Igel observed this situation and wanted to remedy it. He held two separate
services on Shabbat, one for the Orthodox and one for the Free Thinkers, but
this measure didn't satisfy either group. One had to look for another solution.
In Rathausstrasse 4, a choir school was held. The choir was directed by
Cantor Kesten. The modern service with sermon and choir made a lasting
impression on the visitor. However, a suitable framework was lacking. In the
long run, a prayer hall in a rented private house satisfied no one. Now the
time had come to think about building a temple for the upward striving
population. Even the contemporary state president, Barron von Schmueck
supported this idea. It was quickly decided to form the Czernowitz Israelite
Temple Society whose charter was approved by the Kaiser and Koeniglich
state government on December 19, 1872. Well known personalities of the city
sat on its board. David Rottenberg the president of the Community, Kaiser's
Advisor Naftali Tittinger, Members of Parliament David Tittinge and Heinrich
Wagner, the former president of the lawyer's guild Dr. Heinrich Kiesler, the
assistant mayor Dr. Atlas, Captain a.D. Bernhard Boltinester, the heads of the
families: Amster, Anhauch, Barber, Bronstein, Hohn, Luttinger, Nadler,
Regenstreif, Rosenzweig, Steiner, Wischoffer and Zucker. The construction
plans for the temple were joyfully greeted. Contributions flowed freely. When
Mrs. Amalie Zucker contributed a lot in the center of the city, action was
taken immediately. Already on May 8, 1873 the cornerstone was laid. At the
celebration, Chief Rabbi Igel placed the first stone and the orthodox
archbishop Dr. Hacman placed the second. The completion of the temple was
delayed however because money difficulties arose. Finally, the gift of 6000
gulden by the Member of Parliament, Heinrich Wagner made it possible to
complete the construction. The completion ceremony took place on 25 Elul
5637 (September 4, 1877). On that memorable day, the president of the
Community was David Rottenberg. The echo of this event reverberated far
and wide. The Czernowitz Newspaper, an official gazette edited by
Government Council Anton Zachar, printed a snappy story on the occasion.
The temple was administered by the board of governors of the Temple
Society, but in the long run, the Society couldn't fulfill its responsibilities.
Because of budget problems, the management of the Temple was offered to
the Community. At the meeting of June 13, 1881 the offer was unanimously
accepted despite the objections of the Orthodox faction. The Temple was
renovated in 1937 and 4 years latter it was incinerated by the Germans.

During the Temple's existence, the post of sermonizer 7 was held by the
praiseworthy Chief Rabbi, Dr. Lazar Igel, Dr. Josef Rosenfeld and Dr. Abraham
Mark. The chief cantors were Issak Rosenheck, Simon Schaechter,
Pinkasewicz, Steinberg and David Feldmann.

Before the era of Zionism, Czernowitz had a thoroughly assimilated upper


class. The city served as the capital of the Kaiser faithful Eastern province of
the Hapsburg monarchy. Despite the fact that Ruthenes and Romanians were
in the majority, the Jews and Germans give this province a German imprint.
The assimilated Jews considered themselves Germans, with the caveat "of
Mosaic confession." Pure Jewish, even biblical given names became ever
rarer. There were Jews with the given name, "Christian." Jews who considered
a German education a worthwhile goal, but didn't want to sell their souls
created the idea of a Jewish nationality. For the original Zionists, the first
attainable goal was not Zion, but the knowledge of the Jewish character and
its nurture. They took up Herzl's rallying cry. "Return to Judaism before the
return to a Jewish land." An irreconcilable struggle of the Zionists against the
propagators of the assimilation idea began. Zionism at that time, however
was more an act of charity for poor Jews, who one would gladly get out of
sight, than a national movement with a promising future.

The only contact between assimilated Jews and their religion was provided by
the Community which all Jews who hadn't left the religion had to belong to. At
the head of the Czernowitz Community which in 1873 had almost 10,000
members were Isaak Rubinstein, an educated man who lived at
Schlangengasse (later Dr. Reisgasse no. 4) where he started a literary salon.
He was the first Jewish member of the federal 8 parliament from Bukovina.
Rubinstein's successor was the merchant David Rottenberg. He lived opposite
the temple in Franzengasse no. 4. Rottenberg was followed by Kaiser's
Advisor Naftali Tittlinger, a strong personality with a strong sense for justice
and order, one of the Jewish patriarchs of the city. During his period of office
there was an opposition party led by the young lawyer, Dr. Benno Straucher.
Dr. Straucher played the "little man against the ruling families" card until he
succeeded 1903 in winning the presidents office. From then on, he was the
arbiter of the Community.

Dr. Straucher was elected a member of parliament in 1897 and held the
position until 1914. His main contribution was the recognition of the Jewish
people as a political force in a period that the Jews of the land were followers
of a powerless German liberalism. It was not long after that, that a Jewish
folksong was heard in Czernowitz that had the refrain, "We Jews have a good
God, we have chosen Dr. Rott (a liberal German Christian)." Dr. Straucher
hammered a hole in the wall of German liberalism. He allied himself with no
party and let his voice be heard in the Vienna parliament in the name of the
Jewish people. His championing the revision of the Hilsner trial and his fight
against the ritual murder slander were unforgettable. He brought the pogrom
in Russia before the court of public opinion. This national Jewish stance
revealed the political astuteness of Dr. Straucher, who expected and gained
advantages because of his position., but it didn't lead to a commitment to the
newly arrived Zionist ideology. To the contrary, Dr. Straucher recognized that
the nationalist content of Zionism would take the wind out of his sails and he
therefore fought the Zionist organization in which he saw a competitor which
would endanger his power. Occasionally in a gathering, he would
sanctimoniously take a piece of paper out of his vest pocket to prove that he
had "purchased a shekel," that is, he was a Zionist, but this fooled no one. His
hatred of the Zionists in whom he saw personal enemies. couldn't be
disguised by any demagogic gesture. One had to credit him with being a
master at controlling the masses. His boundless ambition and unparalleled
desire for power gave him this quality. He was president of the community,
member of state and federal parliament, Landesausschussbesitzer, president
of the Jewish Parliament club in Vienna as long as it existed, intermittently
member of the delegation, member of the State School Board, city
councilman and lawyer for Czernowitz, had a seat and a voice in the board of
directors of the Aktien Brewery Company, was director of the Bukovina
savings bank and had many honorary positions. His interests encompassed
all areas of importance to Jews in the city and the state. Dr. Straucher's power
depended mainly on the Community, over whose officials he ruled and on the
many followers whose loyalty, he knew how to purchase. It pleased him to be
addressed as "Herr President," he played the benefactor and enjoyed being
flattered. Through his connections with the "common man," who he drank in
the Political Cellar 9 he ruled the voting apparatus. The men who played a roll
in public life along with him had their positions thanks to him and remained
true to him even when the editor, Adolf Wallstein, publicly denounced his
political activities and even criticized his private life. Pushed by his friends,
Dr. Straucher brought a lawsuit against Wallenstein for defamation of
character, but withdrew the lawsuit when the judge accepted Wallenstein's
proof the truthfulness of his statements.

In the period during the war years during which the city was occupied by
foreign troops, Dr. Neumann Wender acted al leader of the Community. He
retired from office in 1918. a commission of the Jewish National Committee
took over the agenda and named the hospital director, Dr. Josef Ohrenstein as
leader.

Jews took an active part in the political life of the city. The succession can be
clearly seen in the selections from "History of the Jews in Bukovina. The
following list (with no claim to completeness) gives the names of Jews who
played an important roll in public life.

Member of State Parliament Deputy Mayor, Dr. Josef Fechner (1861-1874);


Jakob Kohn (1874-1898); Isaak Rubinstein (1861-1863); Dr. Hermann Poras
(1870-1871); Leibuker Barber (1871-1878); David Tittinger (1886-1901); Josef
Steiner (1901-1903); Wilhelm Tittinger (1904-1914); Dr. Benno Straucher
(1900-1914). Landesausschsszbeisitzer Dr. Josef Fechner (1861-1877); Dr.
Benno Straucher (1904-1910); Dr. Neumann Wender (1911-1914). Members
of the federal parliament: Isaak Rubinstein (1873-1878); Heinrich Wagner
(1878-1896); Heinrich Popper (1885-1891); David Tittinger (1897-1900); Dr.
Benno Straucher (1897-1914); Leo Rosenzweig (1901-1906). In addition to
the above named, the following were members of the state parliament for
various terms: Josef Blum, Janku Fischer, Jakob Hecht, Dr. Isidor Katz, Salomon
Rudich, Dr. Salo Weiselberger, Prof. Dr. Leon Kellner, Dr. Max Folkschaner.

In the city council, Jews had won 20 of the 50 seats. Because of this, they
were able to get a Jewish mayor elected two times; Dr. Eduard Reiss (1905-
1908) and Dr. Salo Weisselberger (1913-1914). As a consequence, Dr.
Weisselberger, because of his courageous stand during the Russian
occupation of the city (1914), was made a nobleman.

The Jewish councilmen were in the position to get the Council to vote
unanimously to name some city streets after deserving Jews.

There were streets in Czernowitz that carried the following names:

Atlas Gasse, named after Dr. Heinrich Atlas;

Hauptmann Baltinestergasse, named after the worthy city councilman.

Bethausgasse;

Dr. Fechnergasse, after the first Jewish deputy mayor of the city of
Czernowitz;

Franzosgasse, after the author Karl Emil Franzos;

Heinegasse, after the poet;

Dr. Theodor Herzlplatz;

Igelgasse, after the rabbi Dr. Lazar Igel;

Judengasse;

Markus Kampelmachergasse, after the city councilman/community council


member;

Karolinegasse, after the first name of the wife of the Community President
Rubinstein.

Lazarettgasse, for the street where the Jewish hospital had previously been
located;
Dr. Eduard Reisgasse, after the first Jewish mayor of the city of Czernowitz;

Dr. Benno Strauchergasse, after the long serving community president,


member of federal and state parliaments of this name;

David Tittingergasse, after the member of parliament of that name;

Heinrich Wagnergasse after the founder of the Jewish orphanage.

The streets in which the old synagogue, the temple and the cemetery were
located were called: Synagogengasse, Templegasse 10 and Friedhoffgasse.
The street signs were lettered in three languages: Romanian, German and
Ruthenian.

After the Romanian troops marched into the city on November 11, 1918, the
street signs were removed. The streets were renamed and not a single
worthy Jew had the honor of having a street named after him. Thereafter the
streets flaunted the names of Romanian personalities unknown to the city
and when these were lacking, the names of Roman emperors were used in
order to demonstrate even to the skeptical the connection with the Roman
nation.

Kampelmachergasse for example was renamed after the scholarly Emperor,


Marc Aurel, which led Dr. Ebner to make the humorous remark in his East
Jewish newspaper, "Markus Kampelmacher was followed by Marc Aurel."

Many worthy men served on the board of directors and the community
council in the last years before the outbreak of the war.

Before their elections as mayor of the autonomous city of Czernowitz, Dr.


Reiss and Dr. Weiselberger served as deputy mayors. There were many Jews
among the higher officials of the city.

Before the outbreak of the World War, the Jews of the city reached the peak
of their political and economic development. The roots of this success were
the high level of education of a large part of the population, the spiritual
connection with the culture of Europe, the rise of a healthy feeling of
nationalism under the influence of Zionism, the decided rejection of
"Germanization" as a worthy answer to German anti-Semitism which was
coming into the open and as a result of these factors the political maturity
which manifested itself in public life and also contributed to business success.

The fight against assimilation caused by the use of German as a colloquial


speech was aided by the success of the "Safa Iwria," which was dedicated to
the teaching of the Hebrew language. The "Yiddish School Organization" in
spite of the opposition of the Zionists tried to make Yiddish the national
language of the Jews. Because of the strength of the Zionists, this attempt
failed. The fight of the Jewish student's fraternity for the recognition of their
nationality at the university must be given the highest praise. The same
degree of political understanding was shown by the students and other
youths who in great numbers, joined the movement (Volksrat) founded by
Prof. Dr. Leon Kellner in 1910. They had a hard fight, because Dr. Straucher
and his followers fought tenaciously to protect their position in public life. On
the other site, many, especially the intellectuals followed a new political
direction and gathered around Prof. Kellner, who as a former friend and fellow
worker of Herzl, enjoyed great respect. In the city, mass meetings took place
and the political speeches of Prof. Keller and his fellow workers were attended
with a previously unseen enthusiasm. The attempts at disruption by paid
agents of the opposition were unsuccessful. The fight was carried out with
great bitterness on both sides and lead to a split of the Jewish community into
two opposing camps and ended with a partial victory of the Volksrat party
who won two seats in the municipal council (Dr. Ebner and Adolf Wallstein)
and two seats in the state parliament (Dr. L. Kellner and Dr. M. Fokschaner).
The success was prized all the more because Dr. Straucher and his followers
had used all the means at their command to prevent this outcome. While the
party fight continued and the Volksrat party apparently won new victories,
the World War broke out. Jewish nationalism found a premature end.

The tension in local politics during this epoch was insignificant compared to
the progress in the realm of spiritual life. Soon, middle school was not
adequate and many Czernowitz Jews sent their sons and daughters to the
Austrian universities. Since the completion of the German Franz Josefs
University in 1875, students who couldn't attend high schools, were able to
study in both the law school and the school of philosophy Only medical
students had to study in Vienna. At the beginning, there were only a few
Jewish students at the University. In 1914, however there were 431 Jewish
students in a total enrolment of 1118 students (38.5%). There were many
Jewish professors on the faculty. In the middle schools and other public
schools, the number of Jewish students (both boys and girls) rose far above
the percentage of Jews in the general population. In 1913, the number of
Jewish students in all the middle schools, 1150, was two thirds of the total
school population. This number reflected the great desire of the Jews of the
city for education. The faculty of the middle schools, which for many years,
included no Jewish teachers, now had a large percentage of Jews who had
obtained their factual and pedagogic knowledge at the Czernowitz University.

The desire of the Jews of the city to read, corresponded to their high spiritual
level. New appearances on the book market were sold out immediately. The
daily newspapers, mostly in the German language, satisfied the need to learn
about the events of the day. In part, the papers served the political goals of
the respective parties. Before the founding of the great daily newspapers, the
"Czernowitzer Tagblatt," the Cernowitzer Allgemeine Zeitung," and the
"Morgenblatt 18" the "Bukowiner Rundschau" was the leading local
newspaper. It was printed by the publisher, Hermann Czopp in his own
printing plant in Gregorgasse and before the Christian German "Bukowiner
Nachtrichten" came out it had many non-Jewish readers. The reporter Jakob
Hut was a character known throughout the city. Newspapers from outside the
city, especially the "Neue Freie Presse" from Vienna had a considerable
number of faithful Jewish readers. There was a lively interaction between the
reading public and the journalists.

Now and then, a Jew who made his home in Czernowitz became known in the
wider world. Among them were the many scholars, artists and writers who
honored their home city. To name some, there was Karl Emil Franzos (1848-
1904) whose book, "Halbasien" made him popular in the Jewish world.
Further, Dr. Leo Ebermann (1863-1914) whose play "Die Athenerin" was
performed with great success in the Vienna Burgtheater, Rudolf Kommer
(1887-1943) a publicist with Europe wide renown who, when he signed his
name, never forgot to add the words, "from Czernowitz." Critic Alfred Polgar
said of him, "his only wish was to be born in Czernowitz and since he was a
favorite of the gods, this wish was fulfilled." Further, Michael Wurmbrand
(1879-1952, who wrote poetry and plays (Die Karawane, Die Leuchte, etc.)
which found great approbation (Kurt Grossman, Phil. Library, New York); Dr.
Philipp Menczel, the great Austrian patriot who long after the fall of the
Monarchy tirelessly campaigned in word and speech for the reinstitution of a
Federal Republic of the Danube (Deceptive Solution, Stuttgart 1932). The
dramatic advisor and author of novels, Dr. Marco Brociner: the financial-
political writers, Dr. Friedrich Leiter and Mathias Roll; the historians of the
homeland, Dr. Salomon Kassner and Dr. Manfred Reifer (died 1953); Schlomo
Wininger, the author of the great Jewish national biography in 7 volumes; the
poet Alfred Margul-Sperber; the Hofberg actress Lia Rosen and the actor in
the German Volkstheater in Vienna, Feldhammer; Karl Klueger (The Eleventh
Commandment); Dr. Heinrich Kiesler (Judaism and modern Zionism); Dr. Max
Diamant (Jewish Folk Art); etc.

Along with the printed word, the spoken word exerted a lasting influence on
the intellectual life of the Jews. The many lectures not only about political
subjects, but also in the area of science, were well attended. The speakers
invited by the State Zionist Organization and the Student Circle, established a
contact with world Jewry. Every Saturday in Toyenbee Hall, popular lectures
accompanied by slides took place. These lectures were organized by Dr.
Mosberg and Koifmann whose untiring efforts, assured their success. All
levels of the population took part in the intellectual life. In Zionist circles,
especially in community meetings, the speakers, and especially Dr. Mayer
Ebner had become educators of the people. The science of Judaism was
nurtured by the organization "Jeremia" (S. Grossberg and Dr. Salomon
Kinsbrunner). The University library which was open to the public and the
Jewish library in Toyenbee Hall (its directors were Prof. Salo Dachner and later
Prof. Bendit Gottlieb) and the offices of Jewish organizations, which without
exception had a library for their members, offered intellectual nourishment
and were heavily used. In the German theater which gave very sophisticated
performances, the vast majority of attendees were Jewish. They were the
ones who gave the city its German character. The Jewish theater which for a
time only offered rather low brow entertainment, finally succeeded especially
when the Wilnaer company gave guest performances and important artists
like Dr. Baratoff and Fischhoff appeared and serious pieces like "The Dybuk"
and "Gott der Rache" were performed.

The Yiddish language conference in 1908 which many significant personalities


attended, for example Schalom Asch and J. L. Perez, opened the eyes of many
Jews caught in the circle of German culture. They recognized the existence of
a Jewish spirituality in another garment. The population gradually became
acquainted with the theories of Dr. Nathan Birnbaum (Mathias Acher), the
initiator of the conference and the theoretician of the Jewish Speech
movement. Its prophet was Loebel Tauber. From that point on, the portion of
the population whose every day language was Yiddish, took part for the first
time in the intellectual life of the nation. The Jewish worker became a cultural
asset in a speech that he was intimate with. Soon he grasped the social
problems of his time and found ideological explanations in the Jewish press. A
study group ("The Jewish culture") opened a tenacious fight against the use
of German as an every day language. In contrast to the workers, the
Orthodox Jews drew their spiritual nourishment from the ancient Hebrew
writings , to which the literary works of the Czernowitz rabbis, Tyrer, Dr. Igel
and Benjamin Weiss contributed.

The political, ideological differences split, as regrettable as it was from the


standpoint of ensuring higher interests was a sign of intellectual activity.
Along with the political parties (Unity Party, People's Council Party), there
were Zionists of all stripes (General Zionists, Revionists, Misrachi, Radical
Zionists, Jewish State Party), worker parties of various convictions
(International Social Democrats, Poale Zionisten, Haschomer Hazair),
religious bodies of all sorts and charitable organizations of which the reader
of this essay is sufficiently informed.

Commerce, for centuries the source of income for the Jews reached in the last
decades in Czernowitz before the outbreak of the World War, its greatest
blossom. To be sure, there were setbacks. As in 1886, the Romanian import
tariff and shortly thereafter the Russian tariff were raised, the Czernowitz
exporters lost their most important sales territories. Because of this, there a
large emigration to Canada and the United States started. It was rare for any
of these emigrants to return to their homeland. However, the former
Czernowitz natives, tried to keep up their ties to their homeland by forming
their "Landsmanschaften" and charitable organizations. In Czernowitz the
businesses gradually evolved from retail to wholesale. The stores were
tastefully outfitted, the show windows nicely decorated. The sales people,
dealt with customers in a polite and respectful manner, an atmosphere of
mutual trust prevailed. The goods imported from Vienna and other Western
industrial centers, pleased the most demanding customers.

The few Christian, mostly Polish firms couldn't compete with the Jewish
merchants went out of business. Because of religious tradition, Jewish
merchants as a rule didn't do wholesale business with ritually forbidden
smoked meat.

During the Austrian period, industry was not significant. It was restricted to a
few booming enterprises. The Schlossmann steam powered mill was in
existence since 1867. It had been founded by Breslau Jews. There were three
breweries in Jewish hands. The largest was the Aktienbierbrauerei. On the
clay hill, "Weinberg", stood the brick kilns "Patria" and H. Trichter. The Trichter
company also produced wall and oven tiles. The six mineral oil refineries were
all in Jewish hands. Since Bukovina was rich in forests, the Jewish spirit of
entrepreneurship had opportunity to prove itself. The forests belonged in
great part to the Greek Orthodox church and with its agreement, the forests
were systematically harvested. Max Ritter von Anhauch and Baron Popper
were great sawmill owners who opened new markets for the Bukovina timber
industry. Of the 34 large sawmills in Bukovina, 28 were in Jewish hands. Some
of the notable industrialists in the years before the ware were: Dr. Emanuel
Fischer (potash), Emanuel Axelrad (cement), Moki Fischer and Nathan
Eidinger (sugar factory), Fredric Fischer (glass factory), the Kraft brothers and
Luttinger (mill industry). There were also a number of smaller industrial
concerns. Jews were active as a rule in In the export of agricultural products.

As overall in the world, Jews engaged in financial enterprises. In old


Czernowitz until 1904, the Jewish money changers sat daily at little tables in
the Ringplatz to offer their services to the farmers of the region. Officers of
the garrison who were often burdened with gambling losses were also
customers of the small time bankers. In the course of years, this custom
disappeared. The credit business was handled by smaller financial institutions
and large banks. In Czernowitz in addition to a branch of the Austrian
Hungarian bank,and the State Bank (Dr. Eigermann),there were branches of
the Vienna Bank Association (Dir. Ignatz Danker), the Vienna Deposit Bank,
(Dir. Bernhard Fleminger, Bank Officer Max Seidmann), the Galician Privileged
Hypothekenbank (Dir. Ferdinand Mayer), the Boden Credit Institution, the
English Bank (Dir. Friedrich Mittelmann and Bank Officer Siegmund
Buchbinder), the Bukovina Bank Association (Dir. Heinrich Steiner), the
Commercial Bank (Dir. Edmund Luttinger), and the Mercury Bank (Dir. Mathias
Roll). In addition, there was the popular Bukovina Savings Bank (long time
director Marcus Teuter) which in 1899 moved into a splendid new building in
the Ringstrasse along with a number of smaller banks (Iwanier & Ernst,
Linker, etc.) and credit unions. In most banks with only few exceptions the
directors and officers were Jews. Also in the insurance business, in which both
domestic and foreign companies were represented, the Jewish element was
dominant (Phoenix, Assieuracioni Generali, Reunione Adriatica, Nordatern,
etc.). Small businesses were mostly in Jewish hands. In many branches
(plumbers, glaziers) Jews were the only representatives of their craft. The
construction craftsmen organization led by the municipal councilman, M.
Picker and his successor, Elias Grill, had its own home in the
Drifaltigkeitsgasse with a beautiful hall for celebrations of all sorts (weddings,
dancing lessons, meetings, etc.). There were many Jewish clock makers,
goldsmiths, photographers (Ehrlich, Bruell, Kleinberger, Straasberg),
carpenters, tailors and shoemakers who through ability and personal integrity
made a success of their businesses. Business, both wholesale and retail was
the main source of income for Czernowitz Jews.

The hotels, without exception were owned by Jews. The old hotel, "Moldovia"
in whose ballroom, in 1874, Franz List gave a concert went out of business in
1892. The building was torn down and in its place 25 Hauptstrasse was built.
The hotel "Zum Schwarzen Adler" was a stopping place for well heeled
guests. Alongside it stood the "Hotel Central" and the "Palace Hotel" on
Rathausstrasse and the Hotel "Bristol" on Rudolfsplatz. Smaller inns were the
"Hotel Gotlieb" on Postagasse, "Hotel Paris" and "Hotel Lemberg" on
Hauptstrasse.

The cafes, also owned by Jews were "watering holes" for men who gambled,
smoked, debated and read newspapers there. Before the war, they were
seldom visited by women. Certain card games were forbidden and others
along with billards and chess games served as distractions. The nightclub,
"Vienna" on Hauptstrasse had to close its doors in 1900. Similarly, the caf on
Tempelgasse didn't last long. Feiger's "Casino de Paris" was well known. The
Caf de l'Europe and the Caf Hapsburg on Herrengasse as well as the Caf
Astoria (Kaiser Cafe) on Elisabethplatz were meeting places for high society.
In the Caf "Bellevue" on Ringplatz, artists occasionally performed. Many
businessmen considered the cafes a sort of stock market and conducted
business there. For their convience, Express 11 Service Men with their red
caps on their heads had their regular places outside the cafes.

The most well known restaurants were to be found in the larger hotels. A
vegetarian restaurant on Russischen Gasse, which enjoyed great popularity
and had many strangers and non-Jews as customers belonged to Meschulim
Friedmann.

Jews were able to demonstrate their capabilities in the learned professions. In


1855 there were only two Jewish lawyers at the seat of the state court, Dr.
Josef Fechner and Dr. Josef Wohlfeld: fifty years later, there were very few
non-Jewish lawyers in the Czernowitz bar. The Jewish lawyers distinguished
themselves in the pre-war years by their integrity, well rounded education
and expert knowledge of the law. The Jews could be proud of them. Jewish
doctors were not greatly involved in public medicine. Most Jewish doctors had
private practices and because they awakened trust, non-Jews liked to consult
them. There were numerous specialists in all areas of medicine. The number
of Jewish doctors increased every year, so that the common people were
inclined to view medicine as a Jewish profession. In the technical professions,
Jews had to recon with a strong non-Jewish competition.

Jews were leaders in professional organizations. There were luminous names


that are still remembered today. For many years, Dr. Jacob Auslaender was
president of the lawyers guild, Dr. Jacob Auslaender was president of the
doctor's guild, Dr. David Anhauch was president of the Druggist's guild and
Willhem Tittinger was president of the Chamber of Commerce. The chairmen
of the four merchant's boards and the sixteen trade associations was almost
without exception, Jewish. Even the long time director of the State Bank in a
land with an overwhelming Romanian and Ruthenian 12 population was the
Jew Siegmund Eigermann.

In spite of the equal rights granted by the constitution of 1867, at first Jews
were not hired for public positions. In Catholic Austria, there was so much
prejudice against the stubborn gainsayers of the truth of Christian salvation,
that one couldn't forgive them their Jewishness and accept them as
candidates for high office. Even baptized hopefuls were ran into mistrust. But
gradually, Jews climbed first small and then higher steps in the hierarchy of
bureaucracy, never, however, quite getting to the very top. To lower posts in
the courts, the post office, the finance and railroad service Jews were drawn
in ever increasing numbers. They were industrious and dependable officials
and their non-Jewish superiors acknowledged this fact.

Jewish entrepreneurs were mainly responsible for the growth of the city. After
the great fire of 1867 Jew Street was quickly rebuilt. The old single story
houses disappeared and in their place arose modern new buildings with
comfortable apartments. Thanks to Jewish initiative, Czernowitz shook off its
small town character. The beautifying of the city was undeniably due to the
Jewish middle class. When one spoke of great houses, in old times the names
Melech Juster and Hersch Langer were mentioned, and latter Schwarzwald,
Goldfrucht, Graubart, Grieshaber, Heitner, Oelgiesser, Chodrower, Einhorn,
Trichter, Noa Lehr, Kinsbrunner, Salomon Salter, Rosenzweig, Kratter, Kraus,
Noe, Linker and so on.

The plans for the new buildings were drawn by the Jewish builders Salomon
Salter, Julius Bochner, Brettschneider, Elias Papst, Hermann Wender, Gustav
Locker, Moritz Elling, Rotleder, Merdinger, Wieselberg, Samuel Zentner,
Benno Schaefer, Brandes, Moses Kahn, Kahlenberg and Falik and later
moreover, Isidor Czaczkes and the Spuhn Brothers, the Eisenberg firm and so
on. The large construction company founded by Emanuel Ziffer, built mainly
railroad lines. Ziffer was the builder of the local train in the southern part of
the Bukovina which was later taken over by the state. He was elevated to the
nobility. In the railroad station garden, behind the station building in
DornaWatra was a monument to him was erected.

A monumental structure which along with the already mentioned Temple


added to the beauty of the city, was the Jewish National House, built in 1908
next to the City Theater and across form the Chamber of Commerce building.
It contained a banquet hall, all offices of the Community, as well as the Eretz
Israel offices and it represented the Jewish position of power in the city.
Today, rumor has it that the building has been turned into a club for Russian
textile workers. In the banquet hall there is a movie theater. The new building
of the Spitals, the home for the elderly, the children's hospital founded by Dr.
H. Fischer Edler von Mosara and other public buildings demonstrated the
initiative and public spirit of the Jewish population of the city.

The visitors to the fruit and produce exchange located in a new building on
Postgasse were mainly Jews. One saw many figures there with beards and
side curls among the authorized and unauthorized "curb brokers." who
especially on Mondays when many strangers visited the weekly market,
crowded the street and were an impediment to traffic. These poor people
were visibly oppressed by sorrow and waited in snow storms or the heat of
the sun for an opportunity to earn some money. On Sabbaths Postgasse lay in
idyllic peace, the Exchange was closed.

One who thinks back with longing on his vanished youth cannot forget the
small pleasures the city offered. One memory picture crowds the other and all
bring back the magically happy experiences. The unforgettable Sunday strolls
along the sidewalk on the East side of Ringplatz, the Pardini Heights, which
was not high at all and got its name from the university book store at that
location, Heinrich Pardini (later Engel and Suchanka). There stood groups of
young officers from the garrison in their resplendent parade uniforms,
students from Francisco-Josephina university, walked, their caps offering a
colorful picture, coquettish girls smiling and chattering, accepted the
challenging and admiring looks of the men as if they were a homage due to
them and appeared not to hear the remarks addressed to them. Every
Wednesday afternoon in the city park, the "Volksgarten," with the beautiful
main promenade not far from the Tomasczuk monument and opposite the
Garden Restaurant, the "Kursalon", the band of the K and K. infantry regiment
Erzherzog Eugen No. 41 under the leadership of Bandmaster Kosteletzky
performed. The park was filled with humanity and there was little chance of
getting a seat on one of the garden benches. The city had other public
gardens. On "Goebelshoehe," the planted cliff between the Franzosgasse and
the Steiner'schen, (previously Goebel'schen) Brewery outdoor parties of all
sorts with confetti battles and badmittion were held every Summer. Joy and
merriment ruled here and many a high school student overcame his shyness
and threw the contents of a full confetti container over his admired beauty to
be rewarded with a fleeting smile. Strollers in need of relaxation, went to the
shadowy Habsburghoehe located behind the Archbishop's palace (previously
called the Bischofsberg) whose winding paths offered a view of the Pruth
valley. The cool spicy air in this paradise of evergreens was beneficial and
refreshing. The centrally located Franz Joseph park with the grand statue of
Empress Elisabeth and the state capital in the background was like a four
cornered island in the summer months lying between heavily traveled
streets. Children ran and shouted without cares in Schiller Park whose
grounds lined the steeply sloping road to the suburb of Rosch.

On summer evenings around the turn of the century, families liked to visit
Katz'schen Garden on Russischen Gasse (later Milchalle and vegetarian
restaurant Friedmann). Music was provided by the lively musician Schlomele
Hirsch and his brother Leib, who played at all the weddings.

Other "guest gardens" were a garden in Siebenbuergerstrasse, later


Klavierverkaufgeschaeft and Gruder ice skating rink and the Beer Palace in
Rottgasse and after the building which didn't look much like a palace was torn
down, another beloved ice skating rink. During the hot summer months, a
Jewish theater (director Axelrad) would play in one of these gardens. The
performances, mostly satires on the life of small town Jews couldn't please
anyone who had very high expectations.

The Jews of the city didn't have festivities with music and dancing. They were
to serious for that and life had to many difficulties. An occasional excursion to
the nearby Horeczaer forest with its "Robber Cave" was one of the modest
summer pleasures for those who couldn't afford the luxury of a summer
vacation. One exception was the Purim 13 festival. On the day before and for
several days after the holiday, there was a colorful "mask festival" which
reached its height on the actual day of the holiday. Private and public balls
were held for the dance loving youth. Housewives tried to outdo each other in
offering culinary delights. The good Jewish heart was especially generous on
Purim; it practically rained gifts of money to the poor. It was also the custom
to exchange delicacies. During these days the centrally located streets
offered an unusual picture. The celebrants teased each other, laughed and
shouted and roistered. Non Jews also contributed to the cheerfulness and
merriment. The children rattled Haman 14 noisemakers. During these days,
the Jewish children were allowed to be children. Later, the Romanians who
hated the Jews, said that this practice was dangerous for the city and forbid it
completely.

The Jewish desire for education was reflected in their love for the German
theater. Czernowitz had one old City Theater which was adequate for all
needs up until 1903. It was abandoned when a new theater was opened.
Later it was converted into a meeting place for the Social Democratic party.
This modest theater was artistically situated above the Turkish fountain. A
narrow pedestrian path and a road in the form of a small tunnel under the
Schulgasse led up to it. Prof. Nathansky, the Jewish German teacher in the
City Upper Gynasium once wrote a criticism in a local newspaper calling the
theater a "Musenstall 15." In spite of this derogatory remark, the Czernowitz
Jews, especially the youth saw their theater as a "temple of the muses." The
merry operettas and the performances of classical stage works were greeted
with enthusiastic approval. For only 10 kreuzer (20 heller) you could get a
standing place in the gallery (called Olympus by the students) on Sunday
afternoons. In the long run, however, the German and Jewish City Council
members, who together formed the majority in the city government, were not
satisfied and decided to build a new worthy City Theater. It was erected by
Master Builder Hermann Wender, using plans drawn by the Vienna
construction firm, Fellner and Helmer and completed in 1905, the year in
which educated people of all nations marked the hundredth anniversary of
the death of Schiller. Although the Jews as a people had no reason to
celebrate Schiller, the Jewish City Council members went along with the
placing of a statue of the poet in front of the theater. How different the Jewish
attitude toward the "Singer of Freedom" was from that of the Romanian
authorities, who immediately after the occupation of the city in 1918,
removed the Schiller statue from the court of the German House.

In the Winter of 1904 when the old City Theater was no longer in use and the
new theater wasn't open yet, the citizens of Czernowitz didn't want to be
without their entertainment. They took steps to remedy the situation. There
was a goodly number of young people in the city who were 'bitten by the
acting bug." They wanted to try their hands in the performing arts and
formed a group of amateurs which had already had some success. They were
organized by Stephan Rubasch (died in Israel in 1957), a free spirit whose
knowledge of stage direction and acting was at the professional level. A
season of successful German theater was played. Many promising talents
belonged to the group of amateurs directed by Rubasch including Fanchette
Birnbaum, Thea Rares, Emma Auslaender, Anny Kiesler, Carola Neuborn, Ilse
Dubensky, Cilly Rosenhecker, Claire Wolf, Wally Reh, the Wittner sisters, one
of whom became Rubasch's wife, further Wilhelm Eichel, Rudi Feuerstein,
Otto Fuellenbaum, who later became a professional actor, Bubi Oelgiesser,
Stefan Kimmelmann, Maurice Sekler (latter chief stage director), Siegmund
Pullmann, Emil Czopp, Josef Roll, Zitrig, Hendel, Biber, Druckmann and so on.

The picture of the city in the pre-war period would not be complete if we
didn't mention the veteran commandant, Langberg who led his comrades on
the Kaiser's birthday and at shooting matches on the target range (at the end
of the People's Garden) with panache. He was proud of his uniform and the
medals on his chest and embodied the attitude of the Jewish population who
were faithful to the Kaiser. The Jews of the city loved their Kaiser in grateful
veneration. The ruler let it be known that he was aware of this veneration. He
visited Czernowitz in 1851, 1855 and on Yom Kippur in 1830. On this
occasion, he visited the synagogue.