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Solomon Isacovici

Solomon Isacovici (1924-1998), writer and Holocaust survivor, born in Sighet, Romania, one of eight children of a family of Jewish farmers. In his childhood he attended the local heder and yeshiva. In 1944 he was deported, along with his family, to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Despite being shot, he survived and later was transferred to the Gross-Rosen Nazi concentration camp from where he was liberated by the US Army.

Returning to Sighet, he found his house occupied and his entire property stolen. He joined the Zionist movement with the intention of immigrating to Eretz Israel, but he changed his plans and in 1948 he immigrated to Ecuador.

In Ecuador he worked as a tractor dealer and then manager of a farm in Pasochoa, about 20 km from Quito, becoming a successful businessman. Here he devoted much of his time to the fight for the civil rights of Ecuadorian native people who in his opinion were treated in a similar way to the treatment of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Isacovici's positions were strongly opposed, particularly by members of the local Roman Catholic clergy. As a result of this opposition, his novel A7393: Hombre de Cenizas ("A7393: The Ash Man") could only be published in 1990 in Mexico. The book, co-authored with Juan Manuel Rodriguez, was described as a truthful testimony of the Nazi concentration camps. It was awarded the Fernando Jeno literary prize by the Jewish community of Mexico. An English translation was published in 1998.

Date of birth:
1924
Date of death:
1998
ID Number:
18883304
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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ISACOVICI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname based on a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin. Isacovici, in which the Romanian ending "-ovici" stands for "son of", is an equivalent of the Hebrew Ben Isaac. The biblical Isaac is derived from the Hebrew biblical male personal name Yitzchak, the second of the patriarchs, son of Abraham and Sarah. His name means "he will laugh" (Genesis 21.6). The name of the first German Jew recorded in history is Isaac. Probably a merchant residing in Aachen (Aix-La-Chapelle), he was a member of the embassy sent by Emperor Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus) to the Caliph Harun Al Rashid in 797 CE.

A widespread personal name, Isaac produced many Jewish family names in several languages, among them the Yiddish Itzig and Hitzig, the French Isacquet and Haquet, the Arabic Ishak, and the English Hitchcock. In the 20th century, Isacovici is recorded as a Jewish family name during World War II with Romanian-born Merla Isacovici, who was deported from France to the German death camp at Auschwitz in September 1942.

Known as Sighet until 1964 (in spite of the name change, the city will be referred to as “Sighet” throughout this article, since it is the name that is more familiar to Jews)

Hungarian: Máramarossziget

Yiddish: סיגעט‎, Siget

A city in Romania

Before World War I (1914-1918), and between 1940 and 1944, Sighet was part of Hungary.

 

21ST CENTURY

In 2002 Elie Wiesel made an official visit to Sighet, where he opened a Jewish museum. Wiesel spoke about the Jewish community that once existed in the city, as well as the need for the Romanians to acknowledge their own complicity in the murder of the country’s Jews during the Holocaust.

A commemoration was held in May 2014 to mark the 70th anniversary since the deportation of the Jews of Sighet. Events included Shabbat services in the synagogue; a memorial service at the local Holocaust monument, marking the location where the deportations took place; as well as a klezmer concert. Tours of the Jewish cemetery were also offered.

Wiesel’s childhood home was vandalized and defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti in August of 2018.

 

HISTORY

Jews had settled in Sighet by the 17th century. They began to be taxed in 1728. In 1746 there were ten Jewish families (39 people) living in Sighet.

Most of Sighet’s Jews were traditional, and many were heavily influenced by the Chassidic movement. There were also those who became adherents of the Frankists, followers of the false messiah Jacob Frank.  

An organized community existed during the second half of the 18th century. During this period, Tzvi b. Moses Abraham (d. 1771) from Galicia, served as the community’s rabbi, and proved to be a determined opponent of the Frankist movement. Other rabbis to serve Sighet’s Jewish community included Judah HaKohen Heller, who served until his death in 1819; and the Chassidic rabbi Chananiah Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum (1883-1904).

In 1746 Sighet was home to 39 Jews (10 families). By the late 1780s that number had grown to 142. In 1831 the local Jewish population numbered 431. The Jewish population increased rapidly during the second half of the 19th century, and by 1891 the Jewish population reached 4,960 (about 30% of the total population).

The Sighet community joined the organization of Hungarian Orthodox communities in 1883, but this led to considerable dispute within the community, and the more liberal Jews founded a Sephardic community. Beginning in 1906 Dr. Samuel Danzig (b. 1878) served as that new community’s rabbi; he ultimately perished in the Holocaust. The Orthodox community’s last rabbi was Jekuthiel Judah Teitelbaum, who also died in the Holocaust.

Community institutions included yeshivas, Jewish schools, Zionist organizations, and Hebrew printing presses and libraries, including the Israel Weiss library. There were a number of newspapers that were published in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Hungarian. The majority of Jews in the district were quite impoverished.

In 1910 Sighet’s Jewish population was 7,981 (34% of the total population). By 1930 it had grown to 10,609 (about 38% of the total population). The Jewish population was 10,144 in 1941 (39% of the total population), the highest proportion of Jews in any Hungarian town.

Notable members of Sighet’s Jewish community included the Yiddish author Herzl Apsan (1886-1944); the humorist, editor, and author, Hirsch Leib Gottleib (1829-1930); the rabbi and historian Judah Jekuthiel Gruenwald (1889-1955); the important Yiddish writer Joseph Holder (1893-1944); the violinist Joseph Szigeti (1892-1973); the Yiddish author J. Ring; and the pianist Geza Frid. However, perhaps the best-known native of Sighet is the author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), who wrote about Jewish life in Sighet, as well as his experiences during the Holocaust, in his famous book, Night.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

After the annexation of northern Transylvania by Hungary in 1940, the authorities began to curtail the economic activity of the Jews in Sighet.

Men of military age were conscripted for forced labor in 1942. Later, in the summer of 1944, a ghetto was set up by the Hungarian and Nazi authorities. From there, about 12,000 Jews were deported to concentration and extermination camps.

 

POSTWAR

In 1947 a Jewish community of about 2,300 was formed by returning survivors and Jews from other areas who came to Sighet. However, the vast majority eventually immigrated, and by 1970 there were only about 250 Jews remaining in the city.

In 1959 the organization of Sighet Jews living in Israel began publication of Maramarossziget, a periodical in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Hungarian about the history of the Jews in Sighet and the district of Maramures.

 

Ecuador

República del Ecuador - Republic of Ecuador
A country in South America.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 600 out of 17,000,000. Main Jewish organization:

Comunidad Judía del Ecuador
Roberto Andrade OE3-580 y Jaime Roldós
Phone: 593-2 248-3800
Email: cje@cje.ec

 

HISTORY

It is generally believed that Jews were among the settlers of Ecuador in colonial times. Certain family names among established Ecuadorian families attest to their Sephardi ancestry. Prior to World War II there was very little Jewish immigration to Ecuador. In 1904 there were only four Jewish families in the country, and a survey in 1917 indicated the presence of 14 Jews. After 1924, when the United States established its immigration quota system, a handful more arrived in Ecuador. It was only in the wake of the rise of Nazism and the ensuing holocaust in Europe that Jewish mass immigration to Ecuador began. During the years 1933-1943 about 2,700 Jews arrived, and by 1945 there were already 3,000 new Jewish immigrants, 85% of whom were refugees from Europe. At its peak (in 1950), the Jewish population of Ecuador was estimated at 4,000 persons; the majority lived in Quito, several hundred in Guayaquil and several scores in Ambato, Riobamba, and Cuenca. Although Ecuador was characterized by a strong Roman Catholic tradition and was previously governed by constitutions that established Roman Catholicism as the state church, by the time the large-scale Jewish immigration started, a liberal constitution (1936) guaranteed freedom of worship to all and also stipulated that education was to be essentially secular and lay.

Liberal legislation has remained dominant ever since. In the early years of World War II, Ecuador still admitted a certain amount of immigrants. In 1939, when several South American countries refused to accept the 165 Jewish refugees from Germany aboard the ship "Koenigstein," Ecuador granted them entry permits. Nevertheless, the country's basic humanitarian criterion gradually gave way to a policy of selectivity. Although Jewish immigration to Ecuador was based on agricultural opportunities and needs, it later developed that all the immigrants were actually merchants, industrialists, and businessmen. As a result, in 1938 legislation was enacted compelling any Jew not engaged in agriculture or industry to leave the country. In addition, entry rights were limited to those Jews who possessed a minimum of 400 dollars, which they would have to invest in an industrial project. The Jewish community was able to defeat this law, but in 1952 another was passed requiring every foreigner to supply proof that he was engaged in the occupation stipulated in his entry visa. This legislation was counteracted by the intervention of the World Jewish Congress. Unsuccessful attempts at agricultural settlement were made. In 1935 the "Comite pour l'etude de l'industrie de l'immigration dans la republique de l'equateur" was established in Paris by the territorialist organization, the "Freeland League of Jewish Colonization", with the purpose of creating a settlement program in Ecuador. An agreement was reached with the Ecuadorian government to transfer 500,000 acres of land to the committee's jurisdiction for a period of 30 years to be settled by immigrants regardless of race, religion, or nationality. Several concessions were also promised, such as tax exemption for three years, citizenship after one year, customs exemption, and free transportation by train from the port to the interior of the country. The president signed the agreement several months later on the condition that a detailed program be presented by May 1937 and that if the committee could not manage to invest 8,000 dollars and settle at least 100 families, the agreement would be abrogated. In the following year, two experts visited Ecuador to investigate the possibilities of settlement. Their findings were that such settlement was feasible and would not exceed an output of 360-465 dollars on each family. These findings, however, proved unacceptable to Jewish organizations such as "Hicem", which claimed that the land under consideration was too far from population centers and that the climate was too severe. The result of these objections was the total abandonment of the project. The "American Jewish Joint" distribution committee and "Hicem" also attempted to establish chicken farms for the immigrants, and 60 families were settled. But conditions precluded any success in the venture, which ultimately failed. Most of the immigrants were businessmen and professionals who preferred to carry on their professions. They discovered that balsa wood is excellent for furniture, and later introduced iron and steel furniture, previously unknown in the country. In addition, retail stores were opened and the hotel trade was also developed, the latter leading to anti-Jewish pressure by Syrian and Cuban nationals who had been active in that field. This pressure led to the act of 1938, which might have resulted in expulsion of the Jews.

The Ecuadorian Jewish community is a homogeneous group, a fact which has facilitated communal organization. "The Asociacion de Beneficencia Israelita", founded in 1938, is the central body for religious and cultural affairs that in turn established a court of arbitration and a "hevrah kaddisha". Other organizations in the country are "The Zionist Federation", "B'nai B'rith", "Wizo", "Maccabi", and a cooperative bank. A bilingual Spanish-German bulletin, "Informaciones", is the only publication of the community. The Jewish community of Ecuador is predominantly of German origin, but the young generation is Spanish-speaking. There is no complete assimilation by intermarriage, since the Jews form a separate middle-stratum between the upper, traditionally catholic classes and the lower classes consisting of the indigenous population. There is no Jewish school in Ecuador, but the general atmosphere is one of Jewish cohesion and solidarity, and the children are receiving some Jewish education from a teacher hired by the community. The Jewish community of Quito owns a building, a home for the aged, and a synagogue that holds services on Sabbaths and holidays.

Ecuadorian Jews have achieved prominence in various fields of endeavor, including the academic fields, industry, and science. Benno Weiser (Benjamin Varon), who was active in Ecuadorian journalism, later entered the Israel diplomatic service and served in various Latin American countries. His brother, Max Weiser, was the first Israel consul in Ecuador. In the industrial field, where Jews played an especially important role, the names Rothschild and Seligmann stand out in the area of the development of metal industries, and the pharmaceutical industry is indebted to Carlos Alberti Ottolenghi and alberto di Capua. Paul Engel, endocrinologist and pathologist, was a co-founder of the endocrine society of Ecuador. From 1946, when the Ecuadorian representative at the UN suggested that the Jewish agency be recognized as the Jewish government in exile, Ecuador has traditionally maintained friendly relations with Israel, and has frequently supported Israel in the United Nations. Diplomatic
Relations have been established on ambassadorial level, the Ecuadorian embassy being located in Jerusalem. In the later 1960s a network of technical cooperation was developed between the two countries, especially in the fields of agriculture, water development, and youth training.

As the majority of the immigrants had regarded their stay in Ecuador as a temporary episode, emigration after the war was considerable. By 1948 about half the Jews in Quito had emigrated, mainly to the U.S. on the other hand, a considerable number of survivors of the Holocaust arrived in the early postwar years. Because of continuous emigration, mortality and partial assimilation of the following generation, which considered Spanish its mother tongue, the immigrant organizations lost their pivotal role as preservers of social and cultural identity. However, the Jews continued to form a small middle-class group largely cut off from the strong Catholic upper class and the masses of mestizons and the indigenous population.

In 1972 the "Informaciones" ceased publication. Different attempts to revive tradition did not preserve. The small communities of Ambato and Cuenca disbanded. At the beginning of the 1970s, in the course of the oil boom and thanks to easier-to-obtain entry permits, Jewish families from other Latin American countries arrived. Towards the end of the 20th century many Jews from Argentina settled in Quito.

The 2005 Jewish community of the city of Quito with its 2 million people numbers 200 families (about 550-600 members). The community has modern facilities for its social, recreational, and administrative needs. There is a synagogue and a rabbi for religious services. The community is in contact with other Jewish organizations in Latin America and worldwide.

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Solomon Isacovici

Solomon Isacovici (1924-1998), writer and Holocaust survivor, born in Sighet, Romania, one of eight children of a family of Jewish farmers. In his childhood he attended the local heder and yeshiva. In 1944 he was deported, along with his family, to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Despite being shot, he survived and later was transferred to the Gross-Rosen Nazi concentration camp from where he was liberated by the US Army.

Returning to Sighet, he found his house occupied and his entire property stolen. He joined the Zionist movement with the intention of immigrating to Eretz Israel, but he changed his plans and in 1948 he immigrated to Ecuador.

In Ecuador he worked as a tractor dealer and then manager of a farm in Pasochoa, about 20 km from Quito, becoming a successful businessman. Here he devoted much of his time to the fight for the civil rights of Ecuadorian native people who in his opinion were treated in a similar way to the treatment of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Isacovici's positions were strongly opposed, particularly by members of the local Roman Catholic clergy. As a result of this opposition, his novel A7393: Hombre de Cenizas ("A7393: The Ash Man") could only be published in 1990 in Mexico. The book, co-authored with Juan Manuel Rodriguez, was described as a truthful testimony of the Nazi concentration camps. It was awarded the Fernando Jeno literary prize by the Jewish community of Mexico. An English translation was published in 1998.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Ecuador
Sighetu Marmației

Ecuador

República del Ecuador - Republic of Ecuador
A country in South America.

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 600 out of 17,000,000. Main Jewish organization:

Comunidad Judía del Ecuador
Roberto Andrade OE3-580 y Jaime Roldós
Phone: 593-2 248-3800
Email: cje@cje.ec

 

HISTORY

It is generally believed that Jews were among the settlers of Ecuador in colonial times. Certain family names among established Ecuadorian families attest to their Sephardi ancestry. Prior to World War II there was very little Jewish immigration to Ecuador. In 1904 there were only four Jewish families in the country, and a survey in 1917 indicated the presence of 14 Jews. After 1924, when the United States established its immigration quota system, a handful more arrived in Ecuador. It was only in the wake of the rise of Nazism and the ensuing holocaust in Europe that Jewish mass immigration to Ecuador began. During the years 1933-1943 about 2,700 Jews arrived, and by 1945 there were already 3,000 new Jewish immigrants, 85% of whom were refugees from Europe. At its peak (in 1950), the Jewish population of Ecuador was estimated at 4,000 persons; the majority lived in Quito, several hundred in Guayaquil and several scores in Ambato, Riobamba, and Cuenca. Although Ecuador was characterized by a strong Roman Catholic tradition and was previously governed by constitutions that established Roman Catholicism as the state church, by the time the large-scale Jewish immigration started, a liberal constitution (1936) guaranteed freedom of worship to all and also stipulated that education was to be essentially secular and lay.

Liberal legislation has remained dominant ever since. In the early years of World War II, Ecuador still admitted a certain amount of immigrants. In 1939, when several South American countries refused to accept the 165 Jewish refugees from Germany aboard the ship "Koenigstein," Ecuador granted them entry permits. Nevertheless, the country's basic humanitarian criterion gradually gave way to a policy of selectivity. Although Jewish immigration to Ecuador was based on agricultural opportunities and needs, it later developed that all the immigrants were actually merchants, industrialists, and businessmen. As a result, in 1938 legislation was enacted compelling any Jew not engaged in agriculture or industry to leave the country. In addition, entry rights were limited to those Jews who possessed a minimum of 400 dollars, which they would have to invest in an industrial project. The Jewish community was able to defeat this law, but in 1952 another was passed requiring every foreigner to supply proof that he was engaged in the occupation stipulated in his entry visa. This legislation was counteracted by the intervention of the World Jewish Congress. Unsuccessful attempts at agricultural settlement were made. In 1935 the "Comite pour l'etude de l'industrie de l'immigration dans la republique de l'equateur" was established in Paris by the territorialist organization, the "Freeland League of Jewish Colonization", with the purpose of creating a settlement program in Ecuador. An agreement was reached with the Ecuadorian government to transfer 500,000 acres of land to the committee's jurisdiction for a period of 30 years to be settled by immigrants regardless of race, religion, or nationality. Several concessions were also promised, such as tax exemption for three years, citizenship after one year, customs exemption, and free transportation by train from the port to the interior of the country. The president signed the agreement several months later on the condition that a detailed program be presented by May 1937 and that if the committee could not manage to invest 8,000 dollars and settle at least 100 families, the agreement would be abrogated. In the following year, two experts visited Ecuador to investigate the possibilities of settlement. Their findings were that such settlement was feasible and would not exceed an output of 360-465 dollars on each family. These findings, however, proved unacceptable to Jewish organizations such as "Hicem", which claimed that the land under consideration was too far from population centers and that the climate was too severe. The result of these objections was the total abandonment of the project. The "American Jewish Joint" distribution committee and "Hicem" also attempted to establish chicken farms for the immigrants, and 60 families were settled. But conditions precluded any success in the venture, which ultimately failed. Most of the immigrants were businessmen and professionals who preferred to carry on their professions. They discovered that balsa wood is excellent for furniture, and later introduced iron and steel furniture, previously unknown in the country. In addition, retail stores were opened and the hotel trade was also developed, the latter leading to anti-Jewish pressure by Syrian and Cuban nationals who had been active in that field. This pressure led to the act of 1938, which might have resulted in expulsion of the Jews.

The Ecuadorian Jewish community is a homogeneous group, a fact which has facilitated communal organization. "The Asociacion de Beneficencia Israelita", founded in 1938, is the central body for religious and cultural affairs that in turn established a court of arbitration and a "hevrah kaddisha". Other organizations in the country are "The Zionist Federation", "B'nai B'rith", "Wizo", "Maccabi", and a cooperative bank. A bilingual Spanish-German bulletin, "Informaciones", is the only publication of the community. The Jewish community of Ecuador is predominantly of German origin, but the young generation is Spanish-speaking. There is no complete assimilation by intermarriage, since the Jews form a separate middle-stratum between the upper, traditionally catholic classes and the lower classes consisting of the indigenous population. There is no Jewish school in Ecuador, but the general atmosphere is one of Jewish cohesion and solidarity, and the children are receiving some Jewish education from a teacher hired by the community. The Jewish community of Quito owns a building, a home for the aged, and a synagogue that holds services on Sabbaths and holidays.

Ecuadorian Jews have achieved prominence in various fields of endeavor, including the academic fields, industry, and science. Benno Weiser (Benjamin Varon), who was active in Ecuadorian journalism, later entered the Israel diplomatic service and served in various Latin American countries. His brother, Max Weiser, was the first Israel consul in Ecuador. In the industrial field, where Jews played an especially important role, the names Rothschild and Seligmann stand out in the area of the development of metal industries, and the pharmaceutical industry is indebted to Carlos Alberti Ottolenghi and alberto di Capua. Paul Engel, endocrinologist and pathologist, was a co-founder of the endocrine society of Ecuador. From 1946, when the Ecuadorian representative at the UN suggested that the Jewish agency be recognized as the Jewish government in exile, Ecuador has traditionally maintained friendly relations with Israel, and has frequently supported Israel in the United Nations. Diplomatic
Relations have been established on ambassadorial level, the Ecuadorian embassy being located in Jerusalem. In the later 1960s a network of technical cooperation was developed between the two countries, especially in the fields of agriculture, water development, and youth training.

As the majority of the immigrants had regarded their stay in Ecuador as a temporary episode, emigration after the war was considerable. By 1948 about half the Jews in Quito had emigrated, mainly to the U.S. on the other hand, a considerable number of survivors of the Holocaust arrived in the early postwar years. Because of continuous emigration, mortality and partial assimilation of the following generation, which considered Spanish its mother tongue, the immigrant organizations lost their pivotal role as preservers of social and cultural identity. However, the Jews continued to form a small middle-class group largely cut off from the strong Catholic upper class and the masses of mestizons and the indigenous population.

In 1972 the "Informaciones" ceased publication. Different attempts to revive tradition did not preserve. The small communities of Ambato and Cuenca disbanded. At the beginning of the 1970s, in the course of the oil boom and thanks to easier-to-obtain entry permits, Jewish families from other Latin American countries arrived. Towards the end of the 20th century many Jews from Argentina settled in Quito.

The 2005 Jewish community of the city of Quito with its 2 million people numbers 200 families (about 550-600 members). The community has modern facilities for its social, recreational, and administrative needs. There is a synagogue and a rabbi for religious services. The community is in contact with other Jewish organizations in Latin America and worldwide.

Known as Sighet until 1964 (in spite of the name change, the city will be referred to as “Sighet” throughout this article, since it is the name that is more familiar to Jews)

Hungarian: Máramarossziget

Yiddish: סיגעט‎, Siget

A city in Romania

Before World War I (1914-1918), and between 1940 and 1944, Sighet was part of Hungary.

 

21ST CENTURY

In 2002 Elie Wiesel made an official visit to Sighet, where he opened a Jewish museum. Wiesel spoke about the Jewish community that once existed in the city, as well as the need for the Romanians to acknowledge their own complicity in the murder of the country’s Jews during the Holocaust.

A commemoration was held in May 2014 to mark the 70th anniversary since the deportation of the Jews of Sighet. Events included Shabbat services in the synagogue; a memorial service at the local Holocaust monument, marking the location where the deportations took place; as well as a klezmer concert. Tours of the Jewish cemetery were also offered.

Wiesel’s childhood home was vandalized and defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti in August of 2018.

 

HISTORY

Jews had settled in Sighet by the 17th century. They began to be taxed in 1728. In 1746 there were ten Jewish families (39 people) living in Sighet.

Most of Sighet’s Jews were traditional, and many were heavily influenced by the Chassidic movement. There were also those who became adherents of the Frankists, followers of the false messiah Jacob Frank.  

An organized community existed during the second half of the 18th century. During this period, Tzvi b. Moses Abraham (d. 1771) from Galicia, served as the community’s rabbi, and proved to be a determined opponent of the Frankist movement. Other rabbis to serve Sighet’s Jewish community included Judah HaKohen Heller, who served until his death in 1819; and the Chassidic rabbi Chananiah Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum (1883-1904).

In 1746 Sighet was home to 39 Jews (10 families). By the late 1780s that number had grown to 142. In 1831 the local Jewish population numbered 431. The Jewish population increased rapidly during the second half of the 19th century, and by 1891 the Jewish population reached 4,960 (about 30% of the total population).

The Sighet community joined the organization of Hungarian Orthodox communities in 1883, but this led to considerable dispute within the community, and the more liberal Jews founded a Sephardic community. Beginning in 1906 Dr. Samuel Danzig (b. 1878) served as that new community’s rabbi; he ultimately perished in the Holocaust. The Orthodox community’s last rabbi was Jekuthiel Judah Teitelbaum, who also died in the Holocaust.

Community institutions included yeshivas, Jewish schools, Zionist organizations, and Hebrew printing presses and libraries, including the Israel Weiss library. There were a number of newspapers that were published in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Hungarian. The majority of Jews in the district were quite impoverished.

In 1910 Sighet’s Jewish population was 7,981 (34% of the total population). By 1930 it had grown to 10,609 (about 38% of the total population). The Jewish population was 10,144 in 1941 (39% of the total population), the highest proportion of Jews in any Hungarian town.

Notable members of Sighet’s Jewish community included the Yiddish author Herzl Apsan (1886-1944); the humorist, editor, and author, Hirsch Leib Gottleib (1829-1930); the rabbi and historian Judah Jekuthiel Gruenwald (1889-1955); the important Yiddish writer Joseph Holder (1893-1944); the violinist Joseph Szigeti (1892-1973); the Yiddish author J. Ring; and the pianist Geza Frid. However, perhaps the best-known native of Sighet is the author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), who wrote about Jewish life in Sighet, as well as his experiences during the Holocaust, in his famous book, Night.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

After the annexation of northern Transylvania by Hungary in 1940, the authorities began to curtail the economic activity of the Jews in Sighet.

Men of military age were conscripted for forced labor in 1942. Later, in the summer of 1944, a ghetto was set up by the Hungarian and Nazi authorities. From there, about 12,000 Jews were deported to concentration and extermination camps.

 

POSTWAR

In 1947 a Jewish community of about 2,300 was formed by returning survivors and Jews from other areas who came to Sighet. However, the vast majority eventually immigrated, and by 1970 there were only about 250 Jews remaining in the city.

In 1959 the organization of Sighet Jews living in Israel began publication of Maramarossziget, a periodical in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Hungarian about the history of the Jews in Sighet and the district of Maramures.

 

ISACOVICI
ISACOVICI

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname based on a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin. Isacovici, in which the Romanian ending "-ovici" stands for "son of", is an equivalent of the Hebrew Ben Isaac. The biblical Isaac is derived from the Hebrew biblical male personal name Yitzchak, the second of the patriarchs, son of Abraham and Sarah. His name means "he will laugh" (Genesis 21.6). The name of the first German Jew recorded in history is Isaac. Probably a merchant residing in Aachen (Aix-La-Chapelle), he was a member of the embassy sent by Emperor Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus) to the Caliph Harun Al Rashid in 797 CE.

A widespread personal name, Isaac produced many Jewish family names in several languages, among them the Yiddish Itzig and Hitzig, the French Isacquet and Haquet, the Arabic Ishak, and the English Hitchcock. In the 20th century, Isacovici is recorded as a Jewish family name during World War II with Romanian-born Merla Isacovici, who was deported from France to the German death camp at Auschwitz in September 1942.