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Yehuda Steinberg

Yehuda Steinberg (1863-1908) Author. He was born into a hasidic family in Lipcani but was early attracted to Haskala and taught himself secular subjects. His first successful publications were a book of proverbs and a children's story book. For a time he lived in Edineti and in 1897 he became a teacher in Leovo. Bad health made him give up teaching and he moved to Odessa in 1905. Steinberg wrote in Hebrew and Yiddish and he was the author of many stories as well as textbooks. His stories included children's tales, drawn from the life of his time, and hasidic stories refelecting a positive attitude towards Hasidism. After his death his collected works were published in six volumes.

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Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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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 toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives. It is also an artificial (or ornamental) name (a made-up name often in compound of two words).

Literally "stone mountain" in German, Steinberg is associated with several localities by that name in Germany, near Brody in Galicia, Poland, and Hungary, such as Steinberg near Nuremberg (Nuernberg in German), Bavaria (Germany); Krems, Niederoesterreich (Austria); and Schaffhausen (Switzerland). Kamnik in Slovenia, Yugoslavia, is Stein in German, and the name of a number of places in Poland called Kamien has been translated by Jews into the Yiddish Shteyn. Stein, literally "stone/rock" in German, is an artificial name that is commonly found in Jewish family names as a prefix (Steinberg) or a suffix (Loewenstein). It was translated by Jews into the Yiddish Shteyn. The second component of the name, Berg ("mountain" in German), is found in many German place names. Berg, literally "mountain" in German/Yiddish, is a common artificial name in Jewish surnames, that can be found as a prefix (Bergstein) or a suffix (Goldberg). Jews are known to have lived since the 13th century in the former Duchy and Grand Duchy of Berg in Westphalia. In some cases, Berg is also a Hebrew acronym of Ben Rabi Gershon ("son of Rabbi Gershon").

Steinberg families are recorded in 19th century Russia, Hungary, Romania, Germany, Poland, Lithuania and the U.S.A., one family tree going back to the 14th century.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Steinberg include Judah Steinberg (1863-1908), the Bessarabian-born classical writer of Hebrew short stories; the 20th century Ukrainian-born Hebrew and Yiddish poet, Jacob Steinberg, and the 20th century Romanian-American cartoonist Saul Steinberg.


In Ukrainian: Одeса; in Russian: Одeсса

Capital of Odessa Oblast, Ukraine.

The presence of the first Jews in Odessa dates back to the year 1789. Between the end of the eighteenth century and the outbreak of World War II, the Jewish population of Odessa grew to180,000 (nearly 30% of the total population of the city).

From the start the Jews from Odessa engaged in export and wholesale trade, banking and industry, the liberal professions and crafts.

The community was made up of Jews from all over Russia and also from other countries. The influence of the Maskilim (those belonging to the Enlightenment movement) in Odessa was considerable and also reached other parts of Russia.

The Pogroms
Anti-Jewish outbreaks occurred on five occasions (1821, 1859, 1871, 1881, 1905) in Odessa, as well as many attempted attacks or unsuccessful efforts to provoke them.

Intensive anti-Jewish agitation shadowed and accompanied the growth of the Jewish population and its economic and cultural achievements. Almost every sector of the Christian population contributed to the agitation and took part in the pogroms; the monopolists of the grain export (especially the Greeks in 1821; 1859; 1871) in an attempt to strike at their Jewish rivals, wealthy Russian merchants, nationalist Ukrainian intellectuals, and Christian members of the liberal professions who regarded the respected economic position of the Jews, who were "deprived of rights" in the other towns of the country, and their Russian acculturation as "the exploitation of Christians and masters at the hands of heretics and foreigners" (1871; 1881). The government administration and its supporters favored the pogroms as a means for punishing the Jews for their participation in the revolutionary movement; pogroms were also an effective medium for diverting the anger of the discontented masses from
opposition to the government to hatred of the Jews. After the revolution, during 1917-19, the association of Jewish combatants was formed by ex-officers and soldiers of the Russian army. It was due to the existence of this association that no pogroms occurred in Odessa throughout the civil war period.

Zionist and Literary Center
From the inception of the Hibbat Zion movement Odessa served as its chief center. From here issued the first calls of M.L. Lilienblum ("the revival of Israel on the land of its ancestors") and L. Pinsker ("Auto-emancipation") which gave rise to the movement, worked for its unity ("Zerubbavel", 1883), and headed the leadership which was established after the Kattowitz conference ("Mazkeret Moshe", 1885-89).

The Benei Moshe Society (founded by Achad Ha-Am in 1889), which attempted to organize the intellectuals and activists of the movement, was established in Odessa.

The social awakening of the masses gave rise to the popular character of the Zionist movement in Odessa. It succeeded in establishing an influential and ramified organization, attracting a stream of intellectual and energetic youth from the towns and villages of the pale of settlement to Odessa - the center of culture and location of numerous schools - and provided the Jewish national movement with powerful propagandists, especially from among the ranks of those devoted to Hebrew literature.

The group of authors and activists which rallied around the Zionist movement and actively participated in the work of its institutions included M.L. Lilienblum and Achad Ha-Am, M.M. Ussishkin, who headed the Odessa committee during its last decade of existence, and M. Dizengoff, Zalman Epstein and Y.T. Lewinsky, M. Ben-Ammi and H. Rawnitzky, Ch.N. Bialik and J. Klausner, A. Druyanow and A.M. Berakhyahu (Borochov), Ch. Tchernowitz, S. Pen, M. Gluecksohn and V. Jabotinsky.

These had great influence on the youth, who were not only initiated into Jewish national activity, but were enriched in Jewish culture and broadened in general education.

During the 1920's and 1930's
With the advent of the Soviet regime, Odessa ceased to be the Jewish cultural center in southern Russia. The symbol of the destruction of Hebrew culture was the departure from Odessa for Constantinople in June 1921 of a group of Hebrew authors led by Bialik. The Yevsektsiya chose Kharkov and Kiev as centers for its activities among the Jews of the Ukraine. Russian-oriented assimilation prevailed among the Jews of Odessa in the 1920's (though the city belonged to the Ukraine). Over 77% of the Jewish pupils attended Russian schools in 1926 and only 22% Yiddish schools. At the University, where up to 40% of the student role was Jewish, a faculty of Yiddish existed for several years which also engaged in research of the history of Jews in southern Russia.

The renowned Jewish libraries of the city were amalgamated into a single library named after Mendele Mokher Seforim. In the later 1930's, as in the rest of the Soviet Union, Jewish cultural activity ceased in Odessa and was eventually completely eradicated. The rich Jewish life in Odessa found vivid expressions in Russian-Jewish fiction, as, e.g., in the novels of Yushkevich, in Jabotinsky's autobiographical stories and his novel Piatero ("They Were Five," 1936) and particularly in the colorful Odessa Tales by Isaac Babel, which covered both the pre-revolutionary and the revolutionary period and described the Jewish proletariat and underworld of the city.

The Holocaust Period
After June 21, 1941, many Jews from Bukovina, Bessarabia, and western Ukraine fled from German and Rumanian rule to Odessa. Some Jews in Odessa were called up to the Red Army, and many others left during the two months' siege of the city.

On October 22, 1941, an explosion wrecked a part of the building of the Rumanian military general headquarters (the former headquarters of the Soviet secret police). General Glogojeanu, the city's military commander, and many Rumanian and German officers and soldiers were killed. In the first reprisals carried out the following day, 5,000 persons, most of them Jews, were killed. Many of them were hanged at crossings and in the public squares. Ion Antonescu ordered the execution of 200 communists for every officer who had been killed, and 100 for every soldier, and ordered that one member of every Jewish family be taken hostage. Nineteen thousand Jews were arrested and brought to the square at the harbor, doused with gasoline, and burned. Another 16,000 were taken the following day to the outskirts, where all of them were massacred. Another 5,000 Jews were subsequently arrested, and soon after the massacres, deported to camps set up in Bogdanovka, Domanevka, Krivoye Ozero, and other villages, where about 70,000 Jews, all from southern Transnistria, were concentrated. During December 1941 and January 1942, almost all of them were killed by special units of Sonderkommando (Russia) aided by Rumanian police soldiers, Ukrainian militia, and, especially, by the SS units, made up of former German colonists in the region. On Dec. 7, 1941, Odessa became the capital of Transnistria. The governor, G. Alexianu, and all the administrative institutions transferred their headquarters from Tiraspol to Odessa. Subsequently, steps were taken to make Odessa Judenrein. After the last convoy left on February 23, 1942, Odessa was proclaimed Judenrein. The local inhabitants and the occupying forces looted Jewish property. The old Jewish cemetery was desecrated and hundreds of granite and marble tombstones were shipped to Rumania and sold.

Soviet troops under general Malinovsky returned to Odessa on April 10, 1944. It is estimated that at the time of liberation, a few thousand Jews were living in Odessa, some of them under false documents or in hiding in the catacombs. Others were given shelter by non-Jewish families. There had been numerous informers among the local Russians and Ukrainians but also persons who risked their liberty and even their lives to save Jews.

During the 1950's and 1960's
After the Jewish survivors returned, Odessa became one of the largest Jewish centers of the Soviet Union. However, there was no manifestation of communal or cultural life. In 1962 private prayer groups were dispersed by the authorities and religious articles found among them were confiscated. A denunciation of the Jewish religious congregation and its employees appeared in the local paper in 1964. Baking of Matzah by the Jewish community was essentially prohibited during the period 1959-65. It was again allowed in 1966. In the 1959 census 102,200 Jews were registered in Odessa, but the actual number has been estimated at about 180,000 (14-15% of the total population).

From 1968 several Jewish families were allowed to emigrate to Israel, following the increased demand for exit permits of Soviet Jews in the wake of the Six-Day War (1967). The emigration to Israel and other countries increased during the 1970's and especially after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Community Institutions
Contemporary Odessa has a variety of institutions serving the needs of its Jewish population, which today numbers about 45,000 (3.5% of the city's total population). Community life has been particularly developed since 1991, when the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee opened its first office in the city.
The religious life of the Community is concentrated around the Osipova Street Synagogue.

The Odessa Municipal Jewish Library opened its doors in 1994. It contains books and periodicals in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ukrainian, Russian and English. The library functions as a community center.

The Odessa Jewish Cultural Society was founded in 1989. The Society organizes activities through its Migdal Education and Arts Center, Association of Former Jewish Victims of the Ghetto and Nazi Camps, Di Yiddishe Leed (Jewish song workshop), Drama Workshop Theater and Mame Loshn Magazine.

Gmilus Hesed is a welfare organization which helps the needy, disabled and solitary Jews of Odessa. Its range of activities includes medical consultations, Sunday meals program, visits to the homes of the elderly and loans of medical equipment.

There are two kindergartens, two day schools, and four Sunday schools.

Of the three cemeteries in Odessa, two (the Old Cemetery and the First Jewish Cemetery) were destroyed in 1936 and 1978 respectively and today only the Third Jewish Cemetery functions.


Moldavian: Леова (Leova)

Yiddish: לעאווא (Leova)

Romanian: Leova

Russian: леово (Leovo)

German: Leowa

Polish: Leowo

A city in the region of Bessarabia in Leova district, south-western Moldova. Between the two world wars in Romania.

21st Century

From Jewish Leova there is documentation of how children were brought to kindergarten on a horse driven cart in 1920.

A synagogue building from around 1800 remained in Leova.


Prominent Figures

A native of Leova, Anna Marmor (b. 1900) was a painter whose works displayed old Bessarabia. Motl Saktsier (1907-1987) born in Leovo was poet and playwright with his works published in Sovetish Heimland, the only Yiddish journal in the Soviet Union. He was also central to the Moldovan State Jewish Theater.

The Jewish cemetery has about 350 burials recorded. Graves are from the 19th century with the last burial in 2013. Inscriptions are in Russian and Hebrew with close to half only in Hebrew. The burial grounds has a monument to a great patriotic war hero from Leova.



There were 25 Jewish families living in Leovo in 1817. The community grew as a result of the large Jewish immigration into Bessarabia in the 19th century and numbered 2,773 persons (57% of the total population) in 1897. The Jews there were subject to the legislation restricting Jewish residence in the border zone. The tzaddik Dov Baer, the son of Israel (Friedmann) of Ruzhyn, whose defection from Chasidism to the Maskilim caused a furor, lived in Leovo in the 1860s. The writers Judah Steinberg and Jacob Fichmann taught there. Among the 434 members registered in the Jewish loan fund in 1925, there 84 farmers, 102 craftsmen, and 163 businessmen. There were 2,326 Jews living in Leovo (35% of the total population) in 1930. The community maintained then a kindergarten and a school, both belonging to the Tarbut (culture) network.


The Holocaust Period

During the Romanian evacuation of Leovo in June 1940, the Jewish population, numbering some 600 families, was unharmed. In July 1940, a month after the annexation of Bessarabia by the Soviet Union, all Zionist leaders and wealthy Jews were exiled to Siberia and their property was confiscated. When war broke out between Germany and the Soviet Union in June 1941, Leovo was in the battle zone. Most of the population tried to escape with the help of the Russians, but the majority of the Jews who managed to leave the town were murdered by Romanian soldiers and gendarmes in the neighboring villages and towns. A few who succeeded in reaching Odessa and the Caucasian mountains were murdered by the Germans when they reached these areas.

Those Jews who stayed in Leovo were all murdered by Romanian troops. Some of the Jews who were caught on the roads were exiled to Transnistria, from which only a few returned. Only 30 Jews returned to Leovo after the war.



A small town in the region of Bessarabia, north Moldavia. Between the two World Wars in Romania.

There were 82 Jewish families in Lipcany (out of a total of 203) in 1817, 4,410 persons (63% of the total population) in 1897, and 4,693 in 1930 (79.8% of the total). During the first half of the 19th century the Tzaddik Meir of Peremyshlyany lived in the town for several years. The writers Judah Steinberg and Eliezer Steinberg were born in Lipcany.

In the second World War, when the town was taken on July 8, 1941, by German-Romanian forces, they carried out a pogrom the same day in which many Jews were killed (no figures are available on the number). The soldiers went from house to house, robbing and murdering the inhabitants. The survivors (about 4,000) were taken to a forest near Vertyuzhany and from there were sent on a death march which took them to Sekiryany, Yedintsy, and Khotin, and back to Yedintsy; the old, the sick, and the children, who were unable to withstand the pace, were shot on the journey. From Yedintsy, the survivors were deported to Transnistria, where most of them perished.

Only a few dozen Jewish families from Lipcany were saved by the arrival of the Soviet army. Almost all the young Jews from the town who joined the Soviet army at the beginning of the war were either killed or returned as invalids. One Jew from Lipcany, Abram Schneider, was decorated as a "Hero of the Soviet Union".