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The Jewish Community of Sighetu Marmației

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.

 

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
168109
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
Greenwald, Jekuthiel Judah (Leopold) (1889-1955), rabbi and historian (known as Leopold Greenwald in the USA), born in Marmarossziget, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, now Sighet, in Romania). Educated at the yeshiva of Pozsony (Bratislava, now in Slovakia), and at the rabbinical seminary of Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, under Nehemiah Nobel. In 1913 he was appointed assistant professor there. Greenwald also studied at Oxford, Paris, Amsterdam and London. For a short time in 1913 he served as rabbi at Nagyszeben, Hungary.

During the World War I he served as non-commissioned officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, and was decorated for bravery in action.

In 1924 he immigrated to the United States and was appointed rabbi to the Beth Jacob Orthodox Congregation, Columbus, Ohio. He later became chairman of the Ohio board of rabbis, an executive member of the Mizrachi Organization, and then a board member of the Union of American Orthodox Rabbis.

Greenwald's major works in Hungarian, Hebrew and Yiddish include a biography of Jonathan Eybeschutz, chief rabbi of Altona (1908), "Toledot Mishpahat Rosenthal" (1920); "History of the High Priests" (1933); "Treatise on the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud" (1936); "Toyznt Yor Idish Lebn in Ungarn" (1945). His work "Le-Toledot ha-Reformazyion ha-Datit be-Germanyah u-ve-Ungaryah" (1948) is a history of the Reform movement in Germany and Hungary and also contains a bibliography of Greenwald's work up to 1948. He also wrote works on the history of the Sanhedrin and biographies of leading rabbis, including Joseph Caro and Moses Sofer. Greenwald also compiled an important manual of traditional laws and rites of mourning, "Kol-Bo Avelut" (3 vol., 1947-1952).
Stern, Menahem (?- 1834), rabbi, born in a small village near Sziget, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now Sighet, Romania). Among his teachers were Moses Leib of Sasov, the maggid of Kuzhnitz (Kozienice), and Menahem Mendel of Kosov. He was ordained rabbi by Meshullam Igra of Tismanitz.

Stern served as rabbi of Kalush (Kalusz), Galicia (then part of the Austrian Empire, now in Ukraine), and then, from 1802, as rabbi and rosh bet din of Sighet. On the death of Judah ha-Kohen Heler, author of the "Kunteres ha-Sefekot", he was appointed av bet din of Sighet in 1819, a post in which he served until his death.

He was most concerned at the lack of religious knowledge and observance in the Maramaros (Maramures) region and he traveled throughout the outlying villages and saw simple Jews, farm workers who had forgotten the Torah and were becoming indistinguishable from their Romanian and Ruthenian neighbors. He visited many such villages once or twice a month, gathering the inhabitants together and giving them instruction. He established synagogues and ritual baths and arranged eruvin in every village of Maramures. He used to say: "Maramures is my garden; I planted it".

Stern was the author of "Derekh Emunah" (1856-1860), on the Torah and the festivals. He also wrote a book on the four parts of the "Shulhan Arukh", as well as one on the Psalms, but these were apparently lost in the Holocaust.
Jewish Couple.
Sighet, Romania, c. 1920,
Photo: Stern (Sobel)
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
Sighet Collection)
TWO YOUNG WOMEN AND A YOUNG MAN.
SIGHET, RUMANIA, 1920'S.
PHOTO: STERN (SOBEL).
(BETH HATEFUTSOTH PHOTO ARCHIVE,
SIGHET COLLECTION)
Grandmother and her grandson (?).
Sighet, Romania, c. 1920
Photo: Stern (Sobel)
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, Sighet Collection)
Jewish Girl in Purim costume holding a staff
with a Star of David, Sighet, Rumania, c. 1920
Photo: Stern (Sobel)
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, Sighet collection)

Szigeti, Joseph (József) (1892-1973), violinist, born in Budapest, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary). He spent his childhood in Maramarossziget, Transylvania (now Sighet, Romania). After a period of study with Jeno Hubay in Budapest, he was discovered by Joseph Joachim, who gave him advice and encouragement. He performed as a child prodigy in Hungary, Germany and England, and was well received. For six years he performed mainly in England, achieving a great reputation. Then, touring Europe, he established himself as a major virtuoso of the violin.

After numerous tours, he accepted the professorship of violin at the Geneva Conservatory, succeeding Henri Mareau in his post. He held the position from 1917 to 1924. Leopold Stokowski invited him to come to the United States, and in 1925 he made his American debut.

His art has been honored. He was awarded the Legion of Honor in France, then promoted to officer. In Belgium he was made Commander of the Order of Leopold, and in Hungary he received the Officers' Cross Ordre pour le merite. Japan gave him the Jiji Shimpo Gold Medal.

Szigeti regarded himself as music's servant. More then any single violin virtuoso of modern times he identified himself with the new, untried and progressive, and gave unstintingly of himself so that a significant new voice in music might be heard. The list of his advocacies is long. It includes such works as Prokofieff's First Violin Concerto, Bloch's Violin Concerto and First Sonata, Bartok's Contrasts, Vsaye's First Sonata, and countless other compositions. Whenever a new concerto by a challenging composer was projected, one could assume that Szigeti would be sought as the first interpreter.
Add an impeccable technique, a universal encyclopedic knowledge of the standard literature (and not only the standard literature for violin), a wise and lofty concept of the function of music and the artist, which combine to create the special atmosphere that clings about the name of Joseph Szigeti among those who have had the privilege of becoming acquainted with his work. Like his countryman, Franz Liszt, Szigeti seemed destined to go down in history as a great virtuoso to whom virtuosity is a creative act and art.

Stern, Menahem (?- 1834), rabbi, born in a small village near Sziget, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now Sighet, Romania). Among his teachers were Moses Leib of Sasov, the maggid of Kuzhnitz (Kozienice), and Menahem Mendel of Kosov. He was ordained rabbi by Meshullam Igra of Tismanitz.

Stern served as rabbi of Kalush (Kalusz), Galicia (then part of the Austrian Empire, now in Ukraine), and then, from 1802, as rabbi and rosh bet din of Sighet. On the death of Judah ha-Kohen Heler, author of the "Kunteres ha-Sefekot", he was appointed av bet din of Sighet in 1819, a post in which he served until his death.

He was most concerned at the lack of religious knowledge and observance in the Maramaros (Maramures) region and he traveled throughout the outlying villages and saw simple Jews, farm workers who had forgotten the Torah and were becoming indistinguishable from their Romanian and Ruthenian neighbors. He visited many such villages once or twice a month, gathering the inhabitants together and giving them instruction. He established synagogues and ritual baths and arranged eruvin in every village of Maramures. He used to say: "Maramures is my garden; I planted it".

Stern was the author of "Derekh Emunah" (1856-1860), on the Torah and the festivals. He also wrote a book on the four parts of the "Shulhan Arukh", as well as one on the Psalms, but these were apparently lost in the Holocaust.
Guenzler, Abraham (1840-1910), rabbinical publicist, journalist, born in Satoraljaujhely, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire). He had a special gift for writing which he used to defend traditional Judaism. In 1868, he published a pamphlet, "Tokhahat Megullah", in which he attacked Isaac Friedlieber's work "Divrei Shalom" and defended traditional orthodox Judaism and opposed the Reform movement, which was becoming more popular in Hungary.

Guenzler moved to Sziget (now Sighet, in Romania), a community of Hasidim and maskilim, where he began to publish a Hebrew weekly, "Ha-Tor". It was the first Hebrew journal published in Hungary and exerted considerable influence. The revival of the Hebrew language was his main ambition, and in 1876 he published in Sziget a booklet, "Das Meter Moss", most of which was in Hebrew because "there are people who understand Hebrew better than Yiddish." The journal was published for three years (1874-1876), but it seems that it was not profitable since he moved with it to Kolomyya in Galicia (then part of Austria-Hungary, now in Ukraine) and from there to Krakow (now in Poland).

In 1881 he reported in his journal the pogroms taking place against the Russian Jews with such effect that the Russian government banned it from Russia. Since most of the journal's subscribers lived there (he had nearly 300 subscribers in Russia, and about 250 in Austria-Hungary), "Ha-Tor" ceased publication. Guenzler did not, however, refrain from commenting on contemporary and local issues. He published articles in "Kol Mahazike Hadas", published fortnightly in Lemberg (now Lvov, in Ukraine). Meanwhile R. Simeon Sofer of Krakow founded the weekly "Mahazike Hadas" and Guenzler was appointed editor. The publishers of "Kol Mahazike Hadas" sued Guenzler; eventually it was agreed that "Mahazike Hadas" would cease publication and Guenzler would edit "Kol Mahazike Hadas", but he was later obliged to resign.
Stern, Joseph (1803-1858), rabbi, the son-in-law of Menahem Stern. He studied with Hayyim of Kosov in the home of his father Menahem Mendel of Kosov. Stern claimed that he studied the Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah, 140 times and the other sections of the Shulhan Arukh 111 times. He was ordained rabbi by the scholars Abraham David Wahrmann, rabbi of Buchach, and Nathan, Nata Mueler, rabbi of Podgaytsy, and was first appointed head of the bet din and then av bet din of Sighet, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now in Romania).

A bitter quarrel broke out in Sighet, as some of the community wanted to appoint in his stead Rabbi Eleazar Nissin Teitelbaum, son of Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum. Stern, who hated contention and strife, wanted to share the rabbinic post with Teitelbaum as rabbi and himself as head of the bet din. Nevertheless, this did not stop the dispute. Stern was accused of attacking the government in his sermons, and he was imprisoned. Nearly all the inhabitants of the town condemned this step, and the government authorities were also convinced of his complete innocence. On the third day of his imprisonment the district officer, together with high government officials, entered the prison and asked the forgiveness of the rabbi for the unpleasantness caused him and assured him that the transgressors would be severely punished.

After six years of dissension and quarreling Teitelbaum left the town. The only one that supported Stern during difficult times was Jekuthiel Asher Zalman Ansel Zusmir, rabbi of Styria. Of Stern's writings only his introduction to his father-in-law's "Derekh Emunah" (vol. 1, 1856) and one responsum (no. 50) in the "She'elot u-Teshuvot" (1882, 48a-49a) of Zusmir are known.
Greenwald, Jekuthiel Judah (Leopold) (1889-1955), rabbi and historian (known as Leopold Greenwald in the USA), born in Marmarossziget, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, now Sighet, in Romania). Educated at the yeshiva of Pozsony (Bratislava, now in Slovakia), and at the rabbinical seminary of Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, under Nehemiah Nobel. In 1913 he was appointed assistant professor there. Greenwald also studied at Oxford, Paris, Amsterdam and London. For a short time in 1913 he served as rabbi at Nagyszeben, Hungary.

During the World War I he served as non-commissioned officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, and was decorated for bravery in action.

In 1924 he immigrated to the United States and was appointed rabbi to the Beth Jacob Orthodox Congregation, Columbus, Ohio. He later became chairman of the Ohio board of rabbis, an executive member of the Mizrachi Organization, and then a board member of the Union of American Orthodox Rabbis.

Greenwald's major works in Hungarian, Hebrew and Yiddish include a biography of Jonathan Eybeschutz, chief rabbi of Altona (1908), "Toledot Mishpahat Rosenthal" (1920); "History of the High Priests" (1933); "Treatise on the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud" (1936); "Toyznt Yor Idish Lebn in Ungarn" (1945). His work "Le-Toledot ha-Reformazyion ha-Datit be-Germanyah u-ve-Ungaryah" (1948) is a history of the Reform movement in Germany and Hungary and also contains a bibliography of Greenwald's work up to 1948. He also wrote works on the history of the Sanhedrin and biographies of leading rabbis, including Joseph Caro and Moses Sofer. Greenwald also compiled an important manual of traditional laws and rites of mourning, "Kol-Bo Avelut" (3 vol., 1947-1952).

Yekutiel Yehuda Teitelbaum (1808 - 1883), Hasidic rabbi, born in Drogobycz, Ukraine (then part of Austria-Hungary), he belonged to one of the outstanding Hasidic dynasties and studied with his grandfather, Moshe of Ujhely. He served first as rabbi of Stropkov, and then in 1841 after his grandfather died, he succeeded him in Ujhely. However, he had to leave under pressure from the opponents of Hasidism and officiated in Gorlice and Drogobycz. He became best-known as rabbi of Sighet (from 1858) where he founded a yeshiva and attracted many followers. He was the author of many books on various aspects of Judaism.

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), writer, born in Sighet, Romania. He was raised in a Hassidic environment. In 1944, he was deported by the Nazis with his family and experienced the horrors of the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen camps.

Only he survived of his entire family and in 1946 he arrived in France where he continued his education, eventually adopting French as his literary language. After a few years he moved to New York where he worked as a foreign correspondent. His first book, "Night", marked him out as an authentic voice of the Holocaust and he followed it with a stream of books, all dominated by a Holocaust consciousness. Wiesel also became a voice of Soviet Jewry, notably in "The Jews of Silence" (1968). A moving speaker, he became a world figure for his involvement in humanitarian causes and in 1986 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

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.

Judah Modern (1819-1893), rabbi, born in Bratislava, Slovakia (Pozsony in Hungarian, Pressburg in German, then part of the Austrian Empire.) He became one of the outstanding pupils of Moses Sofer, Meir Asch, and Moses Teitelbaum. In 1837 he married the daughter of Samuel Zanvil ha-Kohen of Sziget (Transylvania, now Sighet, Romania)) and remained in Sziget for the rest of his life. He refused to accept offers of rabbinic office. On the title page of his Zikhron Shemu’el it states: “Neither rabbi nor av bet din, despising honor and praise, engaged in Torah by day and by night.” In Sziget he became attracted to Hasidism and, to the displeasure of his teacher, Moses Sofer, paid visits to the Hasidic rabbis. He was one of the leaders of the community which in 1886 broke with the Orthodox community of Sziget and established the separatist community which was called Ha-Kehillah ha-Sefaradit.

Modern was the author of Zikhron Shemu’el (1867), a detailed commentary on tractate Gittin, and Peri ha-Ez (1885-87), on the Pentateuch. He published Judah Kahana’s Terumat ha-Keri (1858), on the Tur and Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat, with his own glosses and novellae. Individual responsa by him have appeared in various works.

Hary Maiorovici (1918-2000), composer, born in Sighet into a traditionalist Jewish family. He studied at the Conservatory in Vienna, Austria, and then he graduated from the Conservatory of Cluj, Romania. He wrote the music of over 100 films and many plays and composed symphonies, chamber works, lieds, and symphonic poems. He was awarded 17 international prizes. He was an honorary member of the International Academy of Culture in Rome and an honorary citizen of the cities of Cluj and Sighet.

Mordechai Leichter (1880 – 1974), rabbi and Zionist, born in Botiza, Romania (then part of Austria-Hungary). After his marriage in 1915 he moved to Sighet, where he was active in religious Zionist movement and was elected as president of Mizrachi. He participated in the first convention of the Zionists of Transylvania in 1920. As a Mizrahi delegate he participated to the 14th Zionist Congress in Vienna in 1925. Leichter lived in Sighet for twenty years until 1935’ when he immigrated to the Land of Israel settling in Rehovot. He continued to be active in Mizrahi and was elected to the city council representing Mizrahi movement. He retired in Bnai Brak, Israel.

Leichter is the author of Maamar Mordechai, a collection of articles on morality and defense of the Jewish religion and customs in the spirit of religious Zionism intended “to teach the proper path that a man should follow, fitting and appropriate… and to silence all mouths that speak ill of the nation of Israel”, published in Sighet in 1927.

Ludovic Bruckstein (Joseph-Leib Arye Bruckstein) (1920-1988), playwright and novelist, born in Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia (now in Ukraine). Bruckstein was the great-grandson of Chaim-Josef Bruckstein, one of the first Hassidim, a follower of the Baal Shem Tov, and author of a book called “Tosafot Haim”. When he was four years of age, his family moved to Sighet, in Romania. Sighet, as part of Northern Transylvania region, was ruled by Hungary between 1940 to 1944. In May 1944, his entire family was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp. Ludovic was then transferred to Bergen-Belzen Nazi concentration camp, and then to forced-labor camps in Hildesheim, Hanover, Gross-Rosen, Wolfsberg, and Wüstegiersdorf. He was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945. Of his family, only Ludovic and his younger brother Israel survived the Holocaust.

Before WW2 he graduated from the Commercial High School in Sighet. After the war he studied in Cluj and in Bucharest. He returned to Sighet and served as teacher and ten as principal of the local elementary school of art.

He started his literary career in 1945 writing in Romanian, Hungarian, and Yiddish. His stories were published in Viaţa Românească literary magazine. His plays, in Romanian and Yiddish, were inspired by the trauma of the Holocaust or by Hasidic legends. Several of these plays were staged by the Jewish State Theater in Bucharest (TES): Familia Grinvald (“The Grinvald Family”, 1953), Generaţia din pustiu (“The Desert Generation”, 1956), and Un proces neterminat (“An Unfinished Trial”, 1962). From 1950 till 1967 he wrote about twenty plays performed in many theaters in Romania, Soviet Union, and Poland.

In 1972 he immigrated to Israel. He continued writing in Romanian, mainly short stories, but some of his work was also published in Hebrew. Bruckstein was one of the founders of the Association of Israeli Writers in the Romanian Language. He was a member of the Yiddish and Hebrew Writers’ Union too.

His works include Schimbul de noapte (“Night shift”, 1948) - a play in Yiddish about the Sonderkommando uprising in Auschwitz, Întoarcerea lui Cristofor Columb ("The Return of Christopher Columbus", 1957), Poate chiar fericire ("Maybe Even Happiness", 1985), Destinul lui Iaacov Maghid ("The Fate of Yaakov Magid", 1975), The Murmur of Water (1987). One of his last two short stories he wrote during his last months of life were published as Trap and deals with the fate of a young Jew who survives the deportations of the Jews of Sighet to Nazi death camps by hiding in the woods only to be arrested by the Soviets and sent to Siberia.

Starting from 2005, Bruckstein’s entire prose work was translated into Hebrew by the writer Yotam Reuveni.

Apsa Nizna

Hungarian: Apsa and Apsa Nizna; Ukrainian: Нижня Апша / Nyzhnya Apsha; Yiddish: אונטר אפשא

A small town in the region of Tachovo or Tyachiv, until 1928 in the region of Teresva, Carpatho-Russia, Ukraine.

Apsa Nizna is situated 15 km north of Sighet, most of the inhabitants are Romanian. Until 1918 the area belonged to Maramaros county in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the First World War the district of Maramaros was divided between Romania and Czechoslovakia. Apsa Nizna was included in the Czechoslovak Republic. In 1945, at the end of World War II, Carpatho-Russia was included in the Ukraine, then a Soviet Republic. It is now part of the Ukraine.


21st Century

There are no longer any Jews in Apsa Niznia.

History

In 1728 the first Jewish person in Apsa Nizna was recorded. Hersh leased land from the nobles of the House of Szaplonczai. In the census of the year 1735, three other Jews were recorded. These were apparently the founders of the Jewish community. In the censuses conducted in the years 1746 and 1748 only a few Jewish families lived in Apsa Nizna. Some engaged in distilling spirits, and in peddling in the villages in the vicinity.

The community began to organize itself at the beginning of the 19th century. A house of study was founded and in 1832 another building was added to it. Both were built of wood.

In 1830, 57 Jews lived in the town; in 1880 - 409 and in 1900 - 662. They all came from Galicia and most of them were Hasidim of the house of Viznitz plus a few Hasidim of Sighet and Spinka. At the end of the 19th century, the Hasidim of Sighet established their own congregation. The Spinka Hasidim had no place of their own.

Shortly after the establishment of the community, a cemetery was consecrated. This cemetery also served the village of Hrushovo. Till the 1930s Hrushovo also used the ritual slaughter services of Apsa Nizna. Among the first community services was a society for the study of Mishna, by the Hasidim of Viznitz. Later the hasidim of Sighet also  formed a society for the study of Mishna. Till the end of World War I, the community of Apsa Nizna belonged to the rabbinical region of Sighet, and the rabbis of Sighet visited Apsa Nizna several times a year.

Although most Apsa Nizna Jews were Hasidim of Viznitz, the Sighet rabbis had a great influence in this community. In 1919 Apsa Nizna was torn from Sighet, since the Romanian-Czechoslovak border separated them. The rabbi of Sighet appointed Aharon Zvi Avraham Bak as rabbi of Apsa Nizna. Rabbi Bak reorganized the community, made new provisions and opened a small yeshivah, where students from the surrounding villages studied. Rabbi Aharon Zvi Bak died in 1933 as a young man. His brother, Rabbi Moshe Yaacov Bak replaced him and expanded the yeshivah.

In the neighboring village of Bohuc, a Jewish congregation was formed in 1860 by Shlomo Leib Gedaliovich, who owned most of the land in the village and its near surroundings. All the members of this community were his offspring. There were separate community services, but the community was a branch of Apsa Nizna. In Bohuc there was a synagogue built of wood. In the 1930s they consecrated a cemetery and hired a ritual slaughterer. During the last years of the community its head was Rabbi Yitzhak Gedalowitz.

A few Jews in Apsa Nizna were traders, some were artisans and some daily workers. Local industry was based on wood. Some had apple and plum plantations and most of them were poor. The community was represented in the village council. During the last years of this community, their representative was Leib Stern. Moshe Avraham David was in charge of taxes in the council. In the 1920s and 1930s there were Zionist organizations and Agudat Yisrael active in the community.

In 1930 Apsa Nizna had a population of 7,018, among them 927 Jews.


The Holocaust

The 1938 Munich Agreement, about a year before World War II, brought about the dismemberment of the Czechoslovak Republic. In November of that year a Ruthenic autonomy was formed in the area, which ended in March 1939 by the Hungarian military occupation. Hungary, then the ally of Nazi Germany, revoked most of the Jewish trade and craft licenses. In Bohuc the Jews did not suffer much, since the Romanian population did not cooperate with the Germans. In 1941 Apsa Nizna had 978 Jews.

In that year, 50 Jewish families (217 persons), and according to another version, half the Jewish population of Apsa Nizna and 35 of the Jews of Bohuc, were expelled to Poland on the pretext that their Hungarian papers were not valid. Some were brought to the ghetto of Stanislawow and were murdered on Hoshanah Rabah night of 1942.

On the eve of Passover 1942 dozens of Apsa Nizna women and children were burned alive, together with some 2,000 Jewish people from Kamenets-Podolski. Only a few managed to escape alive and return to Hungary. Some of them were caught and sent back to Galicia. A few scores of the Jews of Apsa Nizna died in the Ukraine, when they were brought to the Ukraine, as auxiliary Hungarian forces in 1942-1943 and were employed in forced labor units clearing minefields.

On March 19, 1944 the German army entered Hungary. On April 28 the Jews still in the town were concentrated in the school building, where they were deprived of their valuables. The wealthy were beaten to disclose where they hid their valuables. The following day they were brought to the ghetto of Slotvyna. Then they were taken to Auschwitz on the 20th and 23rd of May 1944. The Jews of Bohuc were also deported via Slotvyna to Auschwitz. A few families managed to escape to the woods before they were brought to the ghetto. Some were saved, among them the rabbi and his family.
 

Post War

In 1945, after the war, Carpatho-Russia was included in the Ukraine. The Jews who survived returned to the town and tried to revive community life. Despite the objections of Soviet authorities to religious activities, prayers were held on the Sabbath and holidays.

In the 1970s there was no longer any Jewish life in Apsa Nizna. The cemetery was well kept and properly fenced, but the praying places were turned into dwellings. In Bohuc not a single Jew was left.

Apsa Vysna

In Jewish sources Oiber Upsa, in Hungarian Felsoe Apsa; in Ukrainian: Verkhnye Vodyane

A village in the region of Rahovo, till 1928 in the district of Teresva, Carpatho-Rus, Ukraine.

Apsa Vysna is situated south-west of Rahovo, all the inhabitants are Ruthenian (Ukranian). Till 1918 it was in the district of Maramaros, Hungary. After World War I, the district of Maramaros was divided between Romania and Czechoslovakia. Apsa Vysna was included in Czechoslovakia. In 1946, after World War II, it was part of Ukraine, a Soviet Republic.

In 1768 the first Jew to go on record in Apsa Vysna, was Shimshon Yakubovich, and with him 10 members of his family. He leased the arenda and engaged in distilling spirits. The taxes that he paid were the highest in the district of Maramaros at that time.

In 1830 there were in this village, according to one source, 19 Jews, by another source 9 families (about 60 persons). In 1840 the limitation on Jews to settle in the towns of Hungary were lifted and since then the number of Jewish inhabitants increased rapidly. In 1880 the village had a Jewish population of 312 and in 1910 1,029 lived in Apsa Vysna. The community was organized in the 1840s. They had a mikveh (purification bath), a hevra kaddisha (burial society), and a cemetery. It is considered that the first beit midrash, constructed in wood, was erected in the 1860s. In the 1870s a mishna society was active. The head of the community was Jacob Koifmann. As a result of conflicts between the hasisim of Wizhnitz, who were the majority, and the hasidim of Sighet, the rich man of the village, Wolf Weisiel, built the Sighet beth midrash. In the cours if the Czech rule a third beth midrash was built in stone. This one was open to the hasidim of Sighet. In between the two world wars the hadarim (schools for small children) operated under semi-public supervision. In the course of the years additional yeshivah and mishnah schools were founded. The community of Apsa Vysna was in the region of Sighet and the rabbi of Sighet had great influence on the community. Many of the youths in this village continued their studies with Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, the author of Yitav Lev and the author of Kedushat Yom Tov. Among the pupils of the rabbis of sigher were also children of Vizhnitz hasidim. In the 1920s and 1930s Moshe Weisel was the head of the community; he was also the representative in the village council.

In 1924, following the separation from Sighet, which remained in Romania, Yitzhak Rosenboim was appointed rabbi of Apsa Vysna. He was elected by the Vizhnitz, Spinka and Kestenserif hasidim and opposed by the hasidim of Sughet. For years there existed a tension between the sections on the issues of electing a rabbi and slaughterers.

The Jews of Apsa Vysna found their living as shopkeepers and owners of inns, and merchants of milk and agricultural products, as artisans and carters. Most of them had small plots of land. Some possessed land cultivated by employed labor. Jews had 3 flour mills. In the Czech Republic Jews were recognized as a national minority with certain rights. At that time some Zionist activity took place in the village. In the elections to the 1937 Zionist Congress, 7 members of the community took part, 6 voted for Mizrahi and 1 for Poalei Zion.

In 1930, 1,175 Jews were living in Apsa Vysna.


The Holocaust Period

Following the Munich Agreement of September 1938, about a year before World War II, the Czechoslovak Republic was dismembered. In November of the same year, an autonomous Ruthenian regime was established in Carpatho-Russia. In March 1939, the Hungarian army occupied the area. With the introduction of the Jewish laws by the pro-German Hungarian government, the trading and craft permits were withdrawn from the Jews and their situation deteriorated.

In 1941 there were in Apsa Vysna 1,289 Jews. During the summer of 1941 the Hungarians deported all Jews who failed to prove residence of their ancestors since 1851. In the course of the examination of papers all Jews of the village were kept in the building of the school for 3 days and nights. Eventually 2/3 of them were deported by train through Yasina to Galicia. They were brought to Horodenka. From there they were marched through mountains, woods and the river Dniester, without food or water, and tortured by their Ukrainian guards, to Tluste. The local Jews helped them and accommodated them. After a few days they continued their journey and at the small town of Jazlowiec were divided into 2 groups. One group was murdered in Kamenets-Podolski. The other group continued to wander. A few of the Jews of Apsa Vysna managed to return to their village. They were caught and returned to Galicia. Jews who were lucky to come to a Jewish community were taken to ghettoes and finally also
murdered. The Jews of Apsa Vysna who were not driven out, were brought to the ghetto of Mate Szalka in April 1944, a month after the Germans entered Hungary (19.3.1944). On the 15th of may they were sent to Auschwitz. Among the casualties were Rabbi Rosenwasser and his family and the teacher of the hasidim of Sighet, Rabbi Moshe Miller.

After the war some survivors of Apsa Vysna returned, but the communist regime did not permit any Jewish community life. Batei hamidrash were turned into warehouses.

In the 1970s one Jewish family still lived at the village.

Romania

România

A country in eastern Europe, member of the European Union (EU)

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 9,000 out of 19,500,000.  Before the Holocaust Romania was home to the second largest Jewish community in Europe, and the fourth largest in the world, after USSR, USA, and Poland. Main Jewish organization:

Federaţia Comunităţilor Evreieşti Din România - Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania
Str. Sf. Vineri nr. 9-11 sector 3, Bucuresti, Romania
Phone: 021-315.50.90
Fax: 021-313.10.28
Email: secretariat@fcer.ro
Website: www.jewishfed.ro

Botiza

In Hungarian: Batiza; in Yidish: Butize

A village in Maramureș County, Transylvania, Romania. Until 1918 it was part of Austria-Hungary. During 1940-1944 it was annexed by Hungary. 

The Jewish community was organized in mid-19th century and had 59 members in 1877.

In 1920, after Botiza was incorporated into Romania, there were 194 Jews in this village, 10% of the general population.

During late 19th century the community built a synagogue and a mikve and opened a cemetery. There was a shochet (ritual slaughterer) in the village, but no rabbi. For rabbinical decisions and advice, they applied to rabbis in Sighet and Viseul de Sus. Most Jews gained a living from agriculture or as laborers in cutting down trees from the surrounding forests and as workers in the local sawmill. A few traded in agricultural products.

In March 1944, all Jews in the area were ordered to wear a yellow star made of cloth on the left side of their coats.

On April 16, 1944, a unit of the Hungarian gendarmerie arrived in Botiza. The Jews were forbidden to get out of their homes. Then the gendarmerie went from house to house evacuating every Jew and sealing their homes. The arrested Jews were detained inside the synagogue during three days. Then they were taken to the nearby village of Dragomirești pe Iza and from there to Vişeu de Sus ghetto. Some of them died walking and some of them, because they resisted the deportation, were shot. From Vişeu de Sus they were deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp during May 19-25, 1944. Jewish property, cattle, poultry and land, was sequestrated and given over to local officials.

There is a Jewish cemetery in Botiza.

Breb

Also known as Brebu; In Hungarian: Bréb

A village in the Ocna Șugatag (Aknasugatag, in Hungarian) commune in Maramureș county in Transylvania, Romania. Until 1918 it was part of Austria-Hungary. During 1940-1944 it was annexed by Hungary.

Jews started to setlle in this village during the mid-19th century. In 1910 there were 203 Jews in Breb and in 1920, after the place was incorporated into Romania, there were 224 Jews or 14% of the total population. Their number decreased to 159 according to the 1930 census.

In May 1944 the Jews of Breb were taken to the Berbesti ghetto and then to the Ghetto of Sighet. They were eventually deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on May 15 - 21, 1944.  

There is a Jewish cemetery, the last burial took place in early 1940s. According to an oral testimony transmitted by members the Sima family, the Romanian inhabitants of the village who owned the land of the Jewish cemetery, when the local Jewish community found out that they would be deported, they buried their religious books within the cemetery boundary.

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The Jewish Community of Sighetu Marmației

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.

 

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Breb
Botiza
Romania
Apsa Vysna
Apsa Niznia

Breb

Also known as Brebu; In Hungarian: Bréb

A village in the Ocna Șugatag (Aknasugatag, in Hungarian) commune in Maramureș county in Transylvania, Romania. Until 1918 it was part of Austria-Hungary. During 1940-1944 it was annexed by Hungary.

Jews started to setlle in this village during the mid-19th century. In 1910 there were 203 Jews in Breb and in 1920, after the place was incorporated into Romania, there were 224 Jews or 14% of the total population. Their number decreased to 159 according to the 1930 census.

In May 1944 the Jews of Breb were taken to the Berbesti ghetto and then to the Ghetto of Sighet. They were eventually deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on May 15 - 21, 1944.  

There is a Jewish cemetery, the last burial took place in early 1940s. According to an oral testimony transmitted by members the Sima family, the Romanian inhabitants of the village who owned the land of the Jewish cemetery, when the local Jewish community found out that they would be deported, they buried their religious books within the cemetery boundary.

Botiza

In Hungarian: Batiza; in Yidish: Butize

A village in Maramureș County, Transylvania, Romania. Until 1918 it was part of Austria-Hungary. During 1940-1944 it was annexed by Hungary. 

The Jewish community was organized in mid-19th century and had 59 members in 1877.

In 1920, after Botiza was incorporated into Romania, there were 194 Jews in this village, 10% of the general population.

During late 19th century the community built a synagogue and a mikve and opened a cemetery. There was a shochet (ritual slaughterer) in the village, but no rabbi. For rabbinical decisions and advice, they applied to rabbis in Sighet and Viseul de Sus. Most Jews gained a living from agriculture or as laborers in cutting down trees from the surrounding forests and as workers in the local sawmill. A few traded in agricultural products.

In March 1944, all Jews in the area were ordered to wear a yellow star made of cloth on the left side of their coats.

On April 16, 1944, a unit of the Hungarian gendarmerie arrived in Botiza. The Jews were forbidden to get out of their homes. Then the gendarmerie went from house to house evacuating every Jew and sealing their homes. The arrested Jews were detained inside the synagogue during three days. Then they were taken to the nearby village of Dragomirești pe Iza and from there to Vişeu de Sus ghetto. Some of them died walking and some of them, because they resisted the deportation, were shot. From Vişeu de Sus they were deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp during May 19-25, 1944. Jewish property, cattle, poultry and land, was sequestrated and given over to local officials.

There is a Jewish cemetery in Botiza.

Romania

România

A country in eastern Europe, member of the European Union (EU)

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 9,000 out of 19,500,000.  Before the Holocaust Romania was home to the second largest Jewish community in Europe, and the fourth largest in the world, after USSR, USA, and Poland. Main Jewish organization:

Federaţia Comunităţilor Evreieşti Din România - Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania
Str. Sf. Vineri nr. 9-11 sector 3, Bucuresti, Romania
Phone: 021-315.50.90
Fax: 021-313.10.28
Email: secretariat@fcer.ro
Website: www.jewishfed.ro

Apsa Vysna

In Jewish sources Oiber Upsa, in Hungarian Felsoe Apsa; in Ukrainian: Verkhnye Vodyane

A village in the region of Rahovo, till 1928 in the district of Teresva, Carpatho-Rus, Ukraine.

Apsa Vysna is situated south-west of Rahovo, all the inhabitants are Ruthenian (Ukranian). Till 1918 it was in the district of Maramaros, Hungary. After World War I, the district of Maramaros was divided between Romania and Czechoslovakia. Apsa Vysna was included in Czechoslovakia. In 1946, after World War II, it was part of Ukraine, a Soviet Republic.

In 1768 the first Jew to go on record in Apsa Vysna, was Shimshon Yakubovich, and with him 10 members of his family. He leased the arenda and engaged in distilling spirits. The taxes that he paid were the highest in the district of Maramaros at that time.

In 1830 there were in this village, according to one source, 19 Jews, by another source 9 families (about 60 persons). In 1840 the limitation on Jews to settle in the towns of Hungary were lifted and since then the number of Jewish inhabitants increased rapidly. In 1880 the village had a Jewish population of 312 and in 1910 1,029 lived in Apsa Vysna. The community was organized in the 1840s. They had a mikveh (purification bath), a hevra kaddisha (burial society), and a cemetery. It is considered that the first beit midrash, constructed in wood, was erected in the 1860s. In the 1870s a mishna society was active. The head of the community was Jacob Koifmann. As a result of conflicts between the hasisim of Wizhnitz, who were the majority, and the hasidim of Sighet, the rich man of the village, Wolf Weisiel, built the Sighet beth midrash. In the cours if the Czech rule a third beth midrash was built in stone. This one was open to the hasidim of Sighet. In between the two world wars the hadarim (schools for small children) operated under semi-public supervision. In the course of the years additional yeshivah and mishnah schools were founded. The community of Apsa Vysna was in the region of Sighet and the rabbi of Sighet had great influence on the community. Many of the youths in this village continued their studies with Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, the author of Yitav Lev and the author of Kedushat Yom Tov. Among the pupils of the rabbis of sigher were also children of Vizhnitz hasidim. In the 1920s and 1930s Moshe Weisel was the head of the community; he was also the representative in the village council.

In 1924, following the separation from Sighet, which remained in Romania, Yitzhak Rosenboim was appointed rabbi of Apsa Vysna. He was elected by the Vizhnitz, Spinka and Kestenserif hasidim and opposed by the hasidim of Sughet. For years there existed a tension between the sections on the issues of electing a rabbi and slaughterers.

The Jews of Apsa Vysna found their living as shopkeepers and owners of inns, and merchants of milk and agricultural products, as artisans and carters. Most of them had small plots of land. Some possessed land cultivated by employed labor. Jews had 3 flour mills. In the Czech Republic Jews were recognized as a national minority with certain rights. At that time some Zionist activity took place in the village. In the elections to the 1937 Zionist Congress, 7 members of the community took part, 6 voted for Mizrahi and 1 for Poalei Zion.

In 1930, 1,175 Jews were living in Apsa Vysna.


The Holocaust Period

Following the Munich Agreement of September 1938, about a year before World War II, the Czechoslovak Republic was dismembered. In November of the same year, an autonomous Ruthenian regime was established in Carpatho-Russia. In March 1939, the Hungarian army occupied the area. With the introduction of the Jewish laws by the pro-German Hungarian government, the trading and craft permits were withdrawn from the Jews and their situation deteriorated.

In 1941 there were in Apsa Vysna 1,289 Jews. During the summer of 1941 the Hungarians deported all Jews who failed to prove residence of their ancestors since 1851. In the course of the examination of papers all Jews of the village were kept in the building of the school for 3 days and nights. Eventually 2/3 of them were deported by train through Yasina to Galicia. They were brought to Horodenka. From there they were marched through mountains, woods and the river Dniester, without food or water, and tortured by their Ukrainian guards, to Tluste. The local Jews helped them and accommodated them. After a few days they continued their journey and at the small town of Jazlowiec were divided into 2 groups. One group was murdered in Kamenets-Podolski. The other group continued to wander. A few of the Jews of Apsa Vysna managed to return to their village. They were caught and returned to Galicia. Jews who were lucky to come to a Jewish community were taken to ghettoes and finally also
murdered. The Jews of Apsa Vysna who were not driven out, were brought to the ghetto of Mate Szalka in April 1944, a month after the Germans entered Hungary (19.3.1944). On the 15th of may they were sent to Auschwitz. Among the casualties were Rabbi Rosenwasser and his family and the teacher of the hasidim of Sighet, Rabbi Moshe Miller.

After the war some survivors of Apsa Vysna returned, but the communist regime did not permit any Jewish community life. Batei hamidrash were turned into warehouses.

In the 1970s one Jewish family still lived at the village.

Apsa Nizna

Hungarian: Apsa and Apsa Nizna; Ukrainian: Нижня Апша / Nyzhnya Apsha; Yiddish: אונטר אפשא

A small town in the region of Tachovo or Tyachiv, until 1928 in the region of Teresva, Carpatho-Russia, Ukraine.

Apsa Nizna is situated 15 km north of Sighet, most of the inhabitants are Romanian. Until 1918 the area belonged to Maramaros county in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the First World War the district of Maramaros was divided between Romania and Czechoslovakia. Apsa Nizna was included in the Czechoslovak Republic. In 1945, at the end of World War II, Carpatho-Russia was included in the Ukraine, then a Soviet Republic. It is now part of the Ukraine.


21st Century

There are no longer any Jews in Apsa Niznia.

History

In 1728 the first Jewish person in Apsa Nizna was recorded. Hersh leased land from the nobles of the House of Szaplonczai. In the census of the year 1735, three other Jews were recorded. These were apparently the founders of the Jewish community. In the censuses conducted in the years 1746 and 1748 only a few Jewish families lived in Apsa Nizna. Some engaged in distilling spirits, and in peddling in the villages in the vicinity.

The community began to organize itself at the beginning of the 19th century. A house of study was founded and in 1832 another building was added to it. Both were built of wood.

In 1830, 57 Jews lived in the town; in 1880 - 409 and in 1900 - 662. They all came from Galicia and most of them were Hasidim of the house of Viznitz plus a few Hasidim of Sighet and Spinka. At the end of the 19th century, the Hasidim of Sighet established their own congregation. The Spinka Hasidim had no place of their own.

Shortly after the establishment of the community, a cemetery was consecrated. This cemetery also served the village of Hrushovo. Till the 1930s Hrushovo also used the ritual slaughter services of Apsa Nizna. Among the first community services was a society for the study of Mishna, by the Hasidim of Viznitz. Later the hasidim of Sighet also  formed a society for the study of Mishna. Till the end of World War I, the community of Apsa Nizna belonged to the rabbinical region of Sighet, and the rabbis of Sighet visited Apsa Nizna several times a year.

Although most Apsa Nizna Jews were Hasidim of Viznitz, the Sighet rabbis had a great influence in this community. In 1919 Apsa Nizna was torn from Sighet, since the Romanian-Czechoslovak border separated them. The rabbi of Sighet appointed Aharon Zvi Avraham Bak as rabbi of Apsa Nizna. Rabbi Bak reorganized the community, made new provisions and opened a small yeshivah, where students from the surrounding villages studied. Rabbi Aharon Zvi Bak died in 1933 as a young man. His brother, Rabbi Moshe Yaacov Bak replaced him and expanded the yeshivah.

In the neighboring village of Bohuc, a Jewish congregation was formed in 1860 by Shlomo Leib Gedaliovich, who owned most of the land in the village and its near surroundings. All the members of this community were his offspring. There were separate community services, but the community was a branch of Apsa Nizna. In Bohuc there was a synagogue built of wood. In the 1930s they consecrated a cemetery and hired a ritual slaughterer. During the last years of the community its head was Rabbi Yitzhak Gedalowitz.

A few Jews in Apsa Nizna were traders, some were artisans and some daily workers. Local industry was based on wood. Some had apple and plum plantations and most of them were poor. The community was represented in the village council. During the last years of this community, their representative was Leib Stern. Moshe Avraham David was in charge of taxes in the council. In the 1920s and 1930s there were Zionist organizations and Agudat Yisrael active in the community.

In 1930 Apsa Nizna had a population of 7,018, among them 927 Jews.


The Holocaust

The 1938 Munich Agreement, about a year before World War II, brought about the dismemberment of the Czechoslovak Republic. In November of that year a Ruthenic autonomy was formed in the area, which ended in March 1939 by the Hungarian military occupation. Hungary, then the ally of Nazi Germany, revoked most of the Jewish trade and craft licenses. In Bohuc the Jews did not suffer much, since the Romanian population did not cooperate with the Germans. In 1941 Apsa Nizna had 978 Jews.

In that year, 50 Jewish families (217 persons), and according to another version, half the Jewish population of Apsa Nizna and 35 of the Jews of Bohuc, were expelled to Poland on the pretext that their Hungarian papers were not valid. Some were brought to the ghetto of Stanislawow and were murdered on Hoshanah Rabah night of 1942.

On the eve of Passover 1942 dozens of Apsa Nizna women and children were burned alive, together with some 2,000 Jewish people from Kamenets-Podolski. Only a few managed to escape alive and return to Hungary. Some of them were caught and sent back to Galicia. A few scores of the Jews of Apsa Nizna died in the Ukraine, when they were brought to the Ukraine, as auxiliary Hungarian forces in 1942-1943 and were employed in forced labor units clearing minefields.

On March 19, 1944 the German army entered Hungary. On April 28 the Jews still in the town were concentrated in the school building, where they were deprived of their valuables. The wealthy were beaten to disclose where they hid their valuables. The following day they were brought to the ghetto of Slotvyna. Then they were taken to Auschwitz on the 20th and 23rd of May 1944. The Jews of Bohuc were also deported via Slotvyna to Auschwitz. A few families managed to escape to the woods before they were brought to the ghetto. Some were saved, among them the rabbi and his family.
 

Post War

In 1945, after the war, Carpatho-Russia was included in the Ukraine. The Jews who survived returned to the town and tried to revive community life. Despite the objections of Soviet authorities to religious activities, prayers were held on the Sabbath and holidays.

In the 1970s there was no longer any Jewish life in Apsa Nizna. The cemetery was well kept and properly fenced, but the praying places were turned into dwellings. In Bohuc not a single Jew was left.

Ludovic Bruckstein
Mordechai Leichter
Hary Maiorovici
Judah Modern
Solomon Isacovici
Elie Wiesel
Yekutiel Yehuda Teitelbaum
Stern, Joseph
Guenzler, Abraham
Szigeti, Joseph
Stern, Menahem
Nanasher, Moishe
Greenwald, Jekuthiel Judah (Leopold)

Ludovic Bruckstein (Joseph-Leib Arye Bruckstein) (1920-1988), playwright and novelist, born in Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia (now in Ukraine). Bruckstein was the great-grandson of Chaim-Josef Bruckstein, one of the first Hassidim, a follower of the Baal Shem Tov, and author of a book called “Tosafot Haim”. When he was four years of age, his family moved to Sighet, in Romania. Sighet, as part of Northern Transylvania region, was ruled by Hungary between 1940 to 1944. In May 1944, his entire family was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp. Ludovic was then transferred to Bergen-Belzen Nazi concentration camp, and then to forced-labor camps in Hildesheim, Hanover, Gross-Rosen, Wolfsberg, and Wüstegiersdorf. He was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945. Of his family, only Ludovic and his younger brother Israel survived the Holocaust.

Before WW2 he graduated from the Commercial High School in Sighet. After the war he studied in Cluj and in Bucharest. He returned to Sighet and served as teacher and ten as principal of the local elementary school of art.

He started his literary career in 1945 writing in Romanian, Hungarian, and Yiddish. His stories were published in Viaţa Românească literary magazine. His plays, in Romanian and Yiddish, were inspired by the trauma of the Holocaust or by Hasidic legends. Several of these plays were staged by the Jewish State Theater in Bucharest (TES): Familia Grinvald (“The Grinvald Family”, 1953), Generaţia din pustiu (“The Desert Generation”, 1956), and Un proces neterminat (“An Unfinished Trial”, 1962). From 1950 till 1967 he wrote about twenty plays performed in many theaters in Romania, Soviet Union, and Poland.

In 1972 he immigrated to Israel. He continued writing in Romanian, mainly short stories, but some of his work was also published in Hebrew. Bruckstein was one of the founders of the Association of Israeli Writers in the Romanian Language. He was a member of the Yiddish and Hebrew Writers’ Union too.

His works include Schimbul de noapte (“Night shift”, 1948) - a play in Yiddish about the Sonderkommando uprising in Auschwitz, Întoarcerea lui Cristofor Columb ("The Return of Christopher Columbus", 1957), Poate chiar fericire ("Maybe Even Happiness", 1985), Destinul lui Iaacov Maghid ("The Fate of Yaakov Magid", 1975), The Murmur of Water (1987). One of his last two short stories he wrote during his last months of life were published as Trap and deals with the fate of a young Jew who survives the deportations of the Jews of Sighet to Nazi death camps by hiding in the woods only to be arrested by the Soviets and sent to Siberia.

Starting from 2005, Bruckstein’s entire prose work was translated into Hebrew by the writer Yotam Reuveni.

Mordechai Leichter (1880 – 1974), rabbi and Zionist, born in Botiza, Romania (then part of Austria-Hungary). After his marriage in 1915 he moved to Sighet, where he was active in religious Zionist movement and was elected as president of Mizrachi. He participated in the first convention of the Zionists of Transylvania in 1920. As a Mizrahi delegate he participated to the 14th Zionist Congress in Vienna in 1925. Leichter lived in Sighet for twenty years until 1935’ when he immigrated to the Land of Israel settling in Rehovot. He continued to be active in Mizrahi and was elected to the city council representing Mizrahi movement. He retired in Bnai Brak, Israel.

Leichter is the author of Maamar Mordechai, a collection of articles on morality and defense of the Jewish religion and customs in the spirit of religious Zionism intended “to teach the proper path that a man should follow, fitting and appropriate… and to silence all mouths that speak ill of the nation of Israel”, published in Sighet in 1927.

Hary Maiorovici (1918-2000), composer, born in Sighet into a traditionalist Jewish family. He studied at the Conservatory in Vienna, Austria, and then he graduated from the Conservatory of Cluj, Romania. He wrote the music of over 100 films and many plays and composed symphonies, chamber works, lieds, and symphonic poems. He was awarded 17 international prizes. He was an honorary member of the International Academy of Culture in Rome and an honorary citizen of the cities of Cluj and Sighet.

Judah Modern (1819-1893), rabbi, born in Bratislava, Slovakia (Pozsony in Hungarian, Pressburg in German, then part of the Austrian Empire.) He became one of the outstanding pupils of Moses Sofer, Meir Asch, and Moses Teitelbaum. In 1837 he married the daughter of Samuel Zanvil ha-Kohen of Sziget (Transylvania, now Sighet, Romania)) and remained in Sziget for the rest of his life. He refused to accept offers of rabbinic office. On the title page of his Zikhron Shemu’el it states: “Neither rabbi nor av bet din, despising honor and praise, engaged in Torah by day and by night.” In Sziget he became attracted to Hasidism and, to the displeasure of his teacher, Moses Sofer, paid visits to the Hasidic rabbis. He was one of the leaders of the community which in 1886 broke with the Orthodox community of Sziget and established the separatist community which was called Ha-Kehillah ha-Sefaradit.

Modern was the author of Zikhron Shemu’el (1867), a detailed commentary on tractate Gittin, and Peri ha-Ez (1885-87), on the Pentateuch. He published Judah Kahana’s Terumat ha-Keri (1858), on the Tur and Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat, with his own glosses and novellae. Individual responsa by him have appeared in various works.

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.

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), writer, born in Sighet, Romania. He was raised in a Hassidic environment. In 1944, he was deported by the Nazis with his family and experienced the horrors of the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen camps.

Only he survived of his entire family and in 1946 he arrived in France where he continued his education, eventually adopting French as his literary language. After a few years he moved to New York where he worked as a foreign correspondent. His first book, "Night", marked him out as an authentic voice of the Holocaust and he followed it with a stream of books, all dominated by a Holocaust consciousness. Wiesel also became a voice of Soviet Jewry, notably in "The Jews of Silence" (1968). A moving speaker, he became a world figure for his involvement in humanitarian causes and in 1986 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yekutiel Yehuda Teitelbaum (1808 - 1883), Hasidic rabbi, born in Drogobycz, Ukraine (then part of Austria-Hungary), he belonged to one of the outstanding Hasidic dynasties and studied with his grandfather, Moshe of Ujhely. He served first as rabbi of Stropkov, and then in 1841 after his grandfather died, he succeeded him in Ujhely. However, he had to leave under pressure from the opponents of Hasidism and officiated in Gorlice and Drogobycz. He became best-known as rabbi of Sighet (from 1858) where he founded a yeshiva and attracted many followers. He was the author of many books on various aspects of Judaism.

Stern, Joseph (1803-1858), rabbi, the son-in-law of Menahem Stern. He studied with Hayyim of Kosov in the home of his father Menahem Mendel of Kosov. Stern claimed that he studied the Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah, 140 times and the other sections of the Shulhan Arukh 111 times. He was ordained rabbi by the scholars Abraham David Wahrmann, rabbi of Buchach, and Nathan, Nata Mueler, rabbi of Podgaytsy, and was first appointed head of the bet din and then av bet din of Sighet, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now in Romania).

A bitter quarrel broke out in Sighet, as some of the community wanted to appoint in his stead Rabbi Eleazar Nissin Teitelbaum, son of Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum. Stern, who hated contention and strife, wanted to share the rabbinic post with Teitelbaum as rabbi and himself as head of the bet din. Nevertheless, this did not stop the dispute. Stern was accused of attacking the government in his sermons, and he was imprisoned. Nearly all the inhabitants of the town condemned this step, and the government authorities were also convinced of his complete innocence. On the third day of his imprisonment the district officer, together with high government officials, entered the prison and asked the forgiveness of the rabbi for the unpleasantness caused him and assured him that the transgressors would be severely punished.

After six years of dissension and quarreling Teitelbaum left the town. The only one that supported Stern during difficult times was Jekuthiel Asher Zalman Ansel Zusmir, rabbi of Styria. Of Stern's writings only his introduction to his father-in-law's "Derekh Emunah" (vol. 1, 1856) and one responsum (no. 50) in the "She'elot u-Teshuvot" (1882, 48a-49a) of Zusmir are known.
Guenzler, Abraham (1840-1910), rabbinical publicist, journalist, born in Satoraljaujhely, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire). He had a special gift for writing which he used to defend traditional Judaism. In 1868, he published a pamphlet, "Tokhahat Megullah", in which he attacked Isaac Friedlieber's work "Divrei Shalom" and defended traditional orthodox Judaism and opposed the Reform movement, which was becoming more popular in Hungary.

Guenzler moved to Sziget (now Sighet, in Romania), a community of Hasidim and maskilim, where he began to publish a Hebrew weekly, "Ha-Tor". It was the first Hebrew journal published in Hungary and exerted considerable influence. The revival of the Hebrew language was his main ambition, and in 1876 he published in Sziget a booklet, "Das Meter Moss", most of which was in Hebrew because "there are people who understand Hebrew better than Yiddish." The journal was published for three years (1874-1876), but it seems that it was not profitable since he moved with it to Kolomyya in Galicia (then part of Austria-Hungary, now in Ukraine) and from there to Krakow (now in Poland).

In 1881 he reported in his journal the pogroms taking place against the Russian Jews with such effect that the Russian government banned it from Russia. Since most of the journal's subscribers lived there (he had nearly 300 subscribers in Russia, and about 250 in Austria-Hungary), "Ha-Tor" ceased publication. Guenzler did not, however, refrain from commenting on contemporary and local issues. He published articles in "Kol Mahazike Hadas", published fortnightly in Lemberg (now Lvov, in Ukraine). Meanwhile R. Simeon Sofer of Krakow founded the weekly "Mahazike Hadas" and Guenzler was appointed editor. The publishers of "Kol Mahazike Hadas" sued Guenzler; eventually it was agreed that "Mahazike Hadas" would cease publication and Guenzler would edit "Kol Mahazike Hadas", but he was later obliged to resign.

Szigeti, Joseph (József) (1892-1973), violinist, born in Budapest, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary). He spent his childhood in Maramarossziget, Transylvania (now Sighet, Romania). After a period of study with Jeno Hubay in Budapest, he was discovered by Joseph Joachim, who gave him advice and encouragement. He performed as a child prodigy in Hungary, Germany and England, and was well received. For six years he performed mainly in England, achieving a great reputation. Then, touring Europe, he established himself as a major virtuoso of the violin.

After numerous tours, he accepted the professorship of violin at the Geneva Conservatory, succeeding Henri Mareau in his post. He held the position from 1917 to 1924. Leopold Stokowski invited him to come to the United States, and in 1925 he made his American debut.

His art has been honored. He was awarded the Legion of Honor in France, then promoted to officer. In Belgium he was made Commander of the Order of Leopold, and in Hungary he received the Officers' Cross Ordre pour le merite. Japan gave him the Jiji Shimpo Gold Medal.

Szigeti regarded himself as music's servant. More then any single violin virtuoso of modern times he identified himself with the new, untried and progressive, and gave unstintingly of himself so that a significant new voice in music might be heard. The list of his advocacies is long. It includes such works as Prokofieff's First Violin Concerto, Bloch's Violin Concerto and First Sonata, Bartok's Contrasts, Vsaye's First Sonata, and countless other compositions. Whenever a new concerto by a challenging composer was projected, one could assume that Szigeti would be sought as the first interpreter.
Add an impeccable technique, a universal encyclopedic knowledge of the standard literature (and not only the standard literature for violin), a wise and lofty concept of the function of music and the artist, which combine to create the special atmosphere that clings about the name of Joseph Szigeti among those who have had the privilege of becoming acquainted with his work. Like his countryman, Franz Liszt, Szigeti seemed destined to go down in history as a great virtuoso to whom virtuosity is a creative act and art.

Stern, Menahem (?- 1834), rabbi, born in a small village near Sziget, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now Sighet, Romania). Among his teachers were Moses Leib of Sasov, the maggid of Kuzhnitz (Kozienice), and Menahem Mendel of Kosov. He was ordained rabbi by Meshullam Igra of Tismanitz.

Stern served as rabbi of Kalush (Kalusz), Galicia (then part of the Austrian Empire, now in Ukraine), and then, from 1802, as rabbi and rosh bet din of Sighet. On the death of Judah ha-Kohen Heler, author of the "Kunteres ha-Sefekot", he was appointed av bet din of Sighet in 1819, a post in which he served until his death.

He was most concerned at the lack of religious knowledge and observance in the Maramaros (Maramures) region and he traveled throughout the outlying villages and saw simple Jews, farm workers who had forgotten the Torah and were becoming indistinguishable from their Romanian and Ruthenian neighbors. He visited many such villages once or twice a month, gathering the inhabitants together and giving them instruction. He established synagogues and ritual baths and arranged eruvin in every village of Maramures. He used to say: "Maramures is my garden; I planted it".

Stern was the author of "Derekh Emunah" (1856-1860), on the Torah and the festivals. He also wrote a book on the four parts of the "Shulhan Arukh", as well as one on the Psalms, but these were apparently lost in the Holocaust.
Greenwald, Jekuthiel Judah (Leopold) (1889-1955), rabbi and historian (known as Leopold Greenwald in the USA), born in Marmarossziget, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, now Sighet, in Romania). Educated at the yeshiva of Pozsony (Bratislava, now in Slovakia), and at the rabbinical seminary of Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, under Nehemiah Nobel. In 1913 he was appointed assistant professor there. Greenwald also studied at Oxford, Paris, Amsterdam and London. For a short time in 1913 he served as rabbi at Nagyszeben, Hungary.

During the World War I he served as non-commissioned officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, and was decorated for bravery in action.

In 1924 he immigrated to the United States and was appointed rabbi to the Beth Jacob Orthodox Congregation, Columbus, Ohio. He later became chairman of the Ohio board of rabbis, an executive member of the Mizrachi Organization, and then a board member of the Union of American Orthodox Rabbis.

Greenwald's major works in Hungarian, Hebrew and Yiddish include a biography of Jonathan Eybeschutz, chief rabbi of Altona (1908), "Toledot Mishpahat Rosenthal" (1920); "History of the High Priests" (1933); "Treatise on the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud" (1936); "Toyznt Yor Idish Lebn in Ungarn" (1945). His work "Le-Toledot ha-Reformazyion ha-Datit be-Germanyah u-ve-Ungaryah" (1948) is a history of the Reform movement in Germany and Hungary and also contains a bibliography of Greenwald's work up to 1948. He also wrote works on the history of the Sanhedrin and biographies of leading rabbis, including Joseph Caro and Moses Sofer. Greenwald also compiled an important manual of traditional laws and rites of mourning, "Kol-Bo Avelut" (3 vol., 1947-1952).
Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), writer, born in Sighet, Romania. He was raised in a Hassidic environment. In 1944, he was deported by the Nazis with his family and experienced the horrors of the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen camps.

Only he survived of his entire family and in 1946 he arrived in France where he continued his education, eventually adopting French as his literary language. After a few years he moved to New York where he worked as a foreign correspondent. His first book, "Night", marked him out as an authentic voice of the Holocaust and he followed it with a stream of books, all dominated by a Holocaust consciousness. Wiesel also became a voice of Soviet Jewry, notably in "The Jews of Silence" (1968). A moving speaker, he became a world figure for his involvement in humanitarian causes and in 1986 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jewish Girl in Purim Costume, Sighet, Rumania, c.1920
Grandmother and her grandson (?). Sighet, Romania, c. 1920
Two Young Women and a Young Man. Sighet, Rumania, 1920's
Jewish Couple. Sighet, Romania, c. 1920,
Jewish Girl in Purim costume holding a staff
with a Star of David, Sighet, Rumania, c. 1920
Photo: Stern (Sobel)
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, Sighet collection)
Grandmother and her grandson (?).
Sighet, Romania, c. 1920
Photo: Stern (Sobel)
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, Sighet Collection)
TWO YOUNG WOMEN AND A YOUNG MAN.
SIGHET, RUMANIA, 1920'S.
PHOTO: STERN (SOBEL).
(BETH HATEFUTSOTH PHOTO ARCHIVE,
SIGHET COLLECTION)
Jewish Couple.
Sighet, Romania, c. 1920,
Photo: Stern (Sobel)
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
Sighet Collection)
Stern, Menahem
Stern, Menahem (?- 1834), rabbi, born in a small village near Sziget, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire, now Sighet, Romania). Among his teachers were Moses Leib of Sasov, the maggid of Kuzhnitz (Kozienice), and Menahem Mendel of Kosov. He was ordained rabbi by Meshullam Igra of Tismanitz.

Stern served as rabbi of Kalush (Kalusz), Galicia (then part of the Austrian Empire, now in Ukraine), and then, from 1802, as rabbi and rosh bet din of Sighet. On the death of Judah ha-Kohen Heler, author of the "Kunteres ha-Sefekot", he was appointed av bet din of Sighet in 1819, a post in which he served until his death.

He was most concerned at the lack of religious knowledge and observance in the Maramaros (Maramures) region and he traveled throughout the outlying villages and saw simple Jews, farm workers who had forgotten the Torah and were becoming indistinguishable from their Romanian and Ruthenian neighbors. He visited many such villages once or twice a month, gathering the inhabitants together and giving them instruction. He established synagogues and ritual baths and arranged eruvin in every village of Maramures. He used to say: "Maramures is my garden; I planted it".

Stern was the author of "Derekh Emunah" (1856-1860), on the Torah and the festivals. He also wrote a book on the four parts of the "Shulhan Arukh", as well as one on the Psalms, but these were apparently lost in the Holocaust.
Nanasher, Moishe
Greenwald, Jekuthiel Judah (Leopold)
Greenwald, Jekuthiel Judah (Leopold) (1889-1955), rabbi and historian (known as Leopold Greenwald in the USA), born in Marmarossziget, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, now Sighet, in Romania). Educated at the yeshiva of Pozsony (Bratislava, now in Slovakia), and at the rabbinical seminary of Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, under Nehemiah Nobel. In 1913 he was appointed assistant professor there. Greenwald also studied at Oxford, Paris, Amsterdam and London. For a short time in 1913 he served as rabbi at Nagyszeben, Hungary.

During the World War I he served as non-commissioned officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, and was decorated for bravery in action.

In 1924 he immigrated to the United States and was appointed rabbi to the Beth Jacob Orthodox Congregation, Columbus, Ohio. He later became chairman of the Ohio board of rabbis, an executive member of the Mizrachi Organization, and then a board member of the Union of American Orthodox Rabbis.

Greenwald's major works in Hungarian, Hebrew and Yiddish include a biography of Jonathan Eybeschutz, chief rabbi of Altona (1908), "Toledot Mishpahat Rosenthal" (1920); "History of the High Priests" (1933); "Treatise on the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud" (1936); "Toyznt Yor Idish Lebn in Ungarn" (1945). His work "Le-Toledot ha-Reformazyion ha-Datit be-Germanyah u-ve-Ungaryah" (1948) is a history of the Reform movement in Germany and Hungary and also contains a bibliography of Greenwald's work up to 1948. He also wrote works on the history of the Sanhedrin and biographies of leading rabbis, including Joseph Caro and Moses Sofer. Greenwald also compiled an important manual of traditional laws and rites of mourning, "Kol-Bo Avelut" (3 vol., 1947-1952).