COURT IN SADAGURA
year of 1848 saw Bukovina separate from Galicia (proclaimed on
March 4, 1849) and brought with it several joyously greeted
freedoms, which were quickly taken away by the reactionary
regime. In spite of that progress couldn't be halted, if not
in the political, then in the cultural arena.
More and more of
the population were caught up by the new currents of the
Enlightenment. The proponents of this movement were immigrants
from Galicia who believed that they served progress when they
attacked the walls that the rabbis had erected for hundreds of
years to preserve Judaism in a hostile world. The advocates of
these new ideas didn't realize what danger they were
subjecting themselves and their people to.
Blinded by the
light of profane knowledge they opened the fight against
everything conventional and shrank back from no consequence.
In Czernowitz, however, the enlightenment clashed with another
current, that of the Chasidim, which had captured a large part
of the population.
The Rabbinic courts of Sadagura, Wiznitz
and Bojan were near enough and their adherents were devoted
protagonists of religious fanaticism. Extremists and rational
people stood face to face and defended their positions. The
contrasts became more extreme. The events of the next decade
took a dramatic turn.
a Russian-born playwright and poet, and was the author of some
He established the "Bukowiner Israelitisches Volksblatt" group
in Czernowitz, which existed for only a short period of time.
attending gymnasium in Czernowitz, then law school, Franzos
abandoned his law career to become a journalist.
He then traveled extensively in southern Europe, eventually
founding the fortnightly review Deutsch Dichtung.
Some of the torch
bears for the Enlightenment in Czernowitz were the pioneer of Jewish theater,
Abraham Goldfaden and other well know names like Welwel Zbaracazer-Ehrenkranz,
Mordechai Schreier, Chaim Gottesmann, Moses Ornstein, whose famous student was
Karl Emil Franzos, the private teacher Abraham Abisch Eisner, Israel Teller and
the book dealers David Apotheker and Jehoschua Widmann. Along with them worked
intellectuals like the poet Matatja Simche Rabener, the nephew of the Chief
Rabbi, Dr. Igel, further Moritz Amster (1831-1904), workers of the "General
Newspaper of Judaism" and the "Vienna Pages" and the lawyer Dr. Heinrich Atlas
and Dr. Reitmann, who was an advocate of German education. The Enlightened found
understanding in increasing numbers of the population where there was the
inclination to escape the "spiritual straight jacket." Its influence can be seen
in the fact that the Jews of the city gradually let their sons study at the
gymnasium despite the fact that from the year it
was founded, 1803 until 1820, it didn't have a single Jewish student and that
the Israelite German elementary school (with instruction in German) was opened
in 1855. The education of youth conformed with the modern spirit, which wanted
or not, led to an assimilation with the Germans.
* -- Top
photograph and text excerpted from "The History of the
Jews of Bukovina," Vol. II, p. 27. Article: "On
the History of the Jews in Czernowitz," by
Prof. Dr. Hermann
Sternberg, Tel-Aviv. Translated by
Goldfaden photograph courtesy of Wikipedia; Franzos photograph
courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.