Before bringing you the short story of the Jews in Bukovina, we will remind what this region represents. Currently, Bukovina (Bukowina, Bucovina) is a region in northern Romania and western Ukraine.
The region was taken from Moldavia in 1775 by the Austrian Empire, remaining, until WWI, its the easternmost province. After the suffering of two world wars, and following the split of the province between Romania and Ukraine at the end of the Second World War, there are some unique challenges to overcome in searching for remnants of Jewish family history in this region. Jews in Bukovina lived even before its existance as a separate province. Since the 18th century some Jewish families from Germany looked more favorable living conditions in the northern part of Moldavia, who later became Bukcovina. Here they enjoyed more protection of Moldovan vassal voivodes under Ottoman Empire than in other parts of medieval Europe.
The interwar period
After World War I, the Germans emigrated to Germany and Austria, the same destiny follows some of Jews. Remaining Jews have contributed to the development of the city, some being members of the City Council. In 1910, 42% of the large estates – in total 10.34% of the total farming land in Bukovina – was owned by Jews. On these Jewish estates, many Jews leased land or were employed as farmers. With that, all the Jewish owned industries which thanks to Jewish initiative were associated with agriculture, like brick works, mills, breweries tanneries, saw mills, distilleries yeast factories and potash production, were endangered. In all these industries, the Jews as producers and sellers were leaders, especially in export.
In the interwar period, in Bukovina operated a private owned Jewish college (between 1919 and 1926) and a Jewish school. For needy Jews an elderly home (for 40 people) and a diner (which offered free meals to 100 people) were established in 1925 .
The Jewish community from Radauti
Radautz (in the Austro-Hungarian original, Radauti in Romanian today, Radevitz in Yiddish) lies in the southern part of the Bukovina District, which was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and today is part of Romania. Jewish settlement in Radautz began at the end of the 18th century, when they came from Galicia, but also from places like Siren, Storojineţ, Czernowitz, Suceava, Gura Mihaileni or Humor. The merchant, Reichnenberg Iossel, arrived in 1796, is the first known Jew here. In 1807, Radautz records showed only 3 Jewish families paying taxes.
In 1859, the Jews of Radautz formed their own community. In 1880, there were 3,452 Jews among the 11,162 inhabitants of Radautz. In 1888 the Jewish community counts 523 families that had a temple, eight prayer houses (synagogues) and six official schools. In 1910 lived in the city a number of 5940 Jews, 5256 of Germans, and 4456 were Romanians. Before the Holocaust, more than 5,000 Jews lived in Radauti. Those who survived the deportation to Transnistria, immigrated to Israel and then somewent on to North or South America. The community never regained its former strength after the war and nowdays only a few dozen Jews live in Radauti.
The physical Jewish vestiges, such as the Great Temple and the Cemetery, can be found in Radautz.
The Jewish cemetery is situated about four kilometers from the city – on the way to the village of Marginea. Ephraim ben Jacob Goldschlager, at that time the ritual slaughterer and spiritual leader of the community established it in 1831, when the Jews in the locality numbered about 370. The cemetery was enlarged to its present size in 1921.
The Great Temple
Great Temple of Radauti is a Jewish place of worship, located on Str. 1 May no. 2 downtown.
Radauti first synagogue was built in 1830 by Eliahu Gewölbe in downtown.
Due to the increasing number of Jews in town synagogues have become overcrowded, and in 1880, during the visit of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Radauti a delegation of Jews appealed for help. They needed land to build a large synagogue. The king consented Jewish community providing a plot of land in the city center near the park. The temple inauguration took place on The 18 of August, 1883, the birthday of Emperor Franz Joseph I.
Radauti Jewish Temple was included on the list of historical monuments in Suceava county in 2004, with classification code SV-II-mB-05599.