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       Shabbat and the Jewish Holidays




Some young people of Czernowitz in their Purim costumes, date unknown



Purim in Czernowitz

The Jews of the city didn't have festivities with music and dancing. They were too serious for that and life had too many difficulties. An occasional excursion to the nearby Horeczaer forest with its "Robber Cave" was one of the modest summer pleasures for those who couldn't afford the luxury of a summer vacation. One exception was the Purim festival. On the day before and for several days after the holiday, there was a colorful "mask festival" which reached its height on the actual day of the holiday. Private and public balls were held for the dance loving youth. Housewives tried to outdo each other in offering culinary delights.


The good Jewish heart was especially generous on Purim; it practically rained gifts of money to the poor. It was also the custom to exchange delicacies. During these days the centrally located streets offered an unusual picture. The celebrants teased each other, laughed and shouted and roistered. Non Jews also contributed to the cheerfulness and merriment. The children rattled Haman noisemakers.

During these days, the Jewish children were allowed to be children. Later, the Romanians who hated the Jews, said that this practice was dangerous for the city and forbid it ►►

Victoria Gedaly in Purim costume, cir 1934


Miriam Rosner in costume, 1936



1 From "The History of the Jews of Bukovina," Article: "On the History of Jews in Czernowitz," by Prof. Dr. Herman Sternberg. Translated by Jerome Silverbush.
Photos courtesy of Ilana Gordon, Florence Heymann and Miriam Lava.

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