also known as: Rahó (HU), Rachov (CZ), Rakhov (RU)
48°03' N / 24°12' E
~ Introduction ~
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Rakhiv was part of the Kingdom of Hungary (11th century - 1920 and 1938-1944) with the name of Rahó in the Máramaros megye (county) and Máramaros járás (district), next part of Czechoslovakia (1920-1938) with the name Rachov in Podkarpatská Rus (Sub-Carpathia), then part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (1945-1991) with the name of Rakhov and, since 1991, known as Rakhiv in the Rakhivskyi rayon (district) and the Zakarpats'ka oblast (county) of Ukraine.
Other spellings/names for Rakhiv are Rahău, Rachiw, Rachów, Akna-Rahó, Bocskó-Rahó, Bocsko Rachev, Rahov, Rahovo, Rakhovo and Rakhev.
Rakhiv is located 62 miles E of Khust (Huszt), 17 miles NNE of Sighetu Marmaţiei (Máramarossziget), Romania.
First mentioned in historical documents in 1447, Rakhiv is a town located in the Tisza River valley, in the Hutsul Alps and has 3 parts: Akna-Raho, Bocsko-Raho, and Berlebash. The first two parts are adjacent to each other and the Berlebash section is 9 km south of the town, but is part of the municipality. Lying on the trade route between Galicia and Transylvania, Moldavia, and Hungary, the town was a major livestock trading center in the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the first half of the 18th century, there were several attempts by Jews to settle in this town, but none succeeded. In the first census of Jews in Hungary in 1728, two Jews were recorded living in Rakhiv, both were unmarried, without families. One was Isaac MARCO, apparently a bachelor, with no profession and no
property. The other was Ilya (or Eliyahu) KOLMAN, who leased the Arinda(?) and had a Jewish servant to assist him. He was also single, with no wife or family.
For reasons unknown to us, these Jews did not stay in Rakhiv very long. Seven years later in 1735 there is a Jewish resident in Rakhiv, named Moshe NANIA, who unlike the previous ones, was married and a father of four children. He owned a farm, including a horse and cow, and this was also a temporary settlement. In the 1746 census, we again find a single Jew without family. This census did not list the names, but his family status indicates that he was not Moshe NANIA, who had a family.
From here on, there is a long period—about 100 years—when no Jew stepped foot in Rakhiv. No Jews were recorded in the census of 1768, even in 1830 there was still not a single Jewish soul. The total population of Rakhiv at this time was around 2,500 people. We don't have specific information as to why Jews were not to be found in Rakhiv, while much smaller—surrounding communities—had large numbers of Jewish residents. One possible explanation is, during this period Rakhiv did not have any local noblemen who owned the land and other property. All the lands in Rakhiv and the surrounding areas were owned by the state and were administered by government officials who had no interest in renting lands to Jews, as was customary among the lands owned by nobles and gentry. The nobles and gentry benefited from the Jews that they sheltered.
Jewish refugees from Galicia probably settled here in the late 1840s.
The earliest known Jewish community was first organized in Rakhiv was in the 1860s, after the gathering of several tens of Galician Jews in Rakhiv. The names of several Jews of Rakhiv, from the years 1869-1910, were recorded in the "Hebrew Subscription Lists," books published during those years. The first two names were Mordecai Dov SHUB (Shub is an acronym for a Shochet, a ritual slaughterer) and Aaron ROSENTHAL, who appear as subscribers to Nazir HaShem (Lemberg, 1869). From this, we know that in the 1860s, there was a Shochet in Rakhiv, even though the number of Jews living there was quite small. It turns out, he served the surrounding villages, that had a larger Jewish population than Rakhiv itself. The second man, Aaron ROSENTHAL, headed a large family that spread out in the coming generations in Rakhiv and the surrounding area.
Eleven years later, in 1880, the Jewish population was 288 (or about 6% of a total population of 4,716). Six Jews were recorded as subscribers to Imrei Shoham (Kolyma, 1880), and they were: Mordecai David SHIOVICH, of whom his descendants say that he went to Israel and died in Jerusalem in the early 20th century, his son Joshua MEIR, Israel ROSENTHAL (apparently, the son of Aaron mentioned above), Solomon ABISH, Asher Anshil SHUB and Azriel WASSERMAN.
In the next book, the following names are recorded: Rabbi Israel Chaim FRIEDMAN (appointed in 1888), Israel ROSENTHAL, Joshua Meir SHIOVICH, Zvi SHEINER, Zusia ROSENTHAL, Yerachmiel ROSENTHAL (the elder, apparently to distinguish him from a younger relative with the same name), Judah Zvi LOTTMAN, Chaim ADLERSTEIN, Alexander FEIRVARGER, Benjamin SHMERLER, Yerachmiel ADLERSTEIN and Leibush SCHECHTER.
In books published in the early 20th century, many of the same names appear, with the rabbi always at the head of the list. These are the additional names: Yekutiel Yeruham WASSERMAN, Zusha DARINSTEIN, Itza TZAVECHTER, Haim Zalman KAPILMAN, Ovadia DARINSTEIN, Moshe Zvi KAHANE, Jacob ROSENTHAL, Dov Berel FEIG, Meir Zvi WEISS, Simha FOIGEL, Herzel FEIG, Shalom Mordecai WEIDER, Milech SHAIOVICH, Haim Aryeh MOSCOVICH, Yehiel Mihal DAVIDOVICH, Jacob Isaac SHAIOVICH, Yekutiel Judah SHAIOVICH and Meir FEIG. The surnames that occur with highest frequency in the lists are the SHAIOVICH family (9) and the ROSENTHAL family (7), which represented a large number of the Jews of Rakhiv until the last generation.
At this time, the community maintained a an elementry school, a Talmud Torah and a number of traditional chadarim. (religious schools)
The Zionist and religious parties were active among the young, a number of whom emigrated to Palestine—prior to WWII—after receiving pioneer training.
The business and financial arrangements in the Jewish community of Rakhiv were not markedly different from others in Mármarosh. A significant percentage of the local Jews were employed in different levels of retail trade with a portion of the Jews who were craftsmen, while others were hired workers in workshops or factories. In Rakhiv, as in many places, Jews dominated commercial life.
Among the large factories, former residents of Rakhiv recall three large sawmills owned by Raphael ABUSH and son, Risa KATZ and DEUTSCH. There were three flour mills owned by Ephraim KREINDLER, Menachem FRUCHTER, and Risa KATZ. The electric power plant was owned by Solomon ABUSH, president of the Jewish community until his death, at an early age. Owners of land and forests were Raphael ABUSH, Alter SHMERLER, Ortza KREMER and others. Jews worked in these factories both as clerks and as hired laborers.
In the commercial arena, survivors recall about 30 grocery and variety stores, about ten textile and ready-made clothing stores and three wholesale food markets. The craftsmen included tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, tanners, watchmakers, bakers, photographers, a weaver, a printer, taxi owners and others.
In Rakhiv, there were some Jews engaged in farming, but there was also Jewish intelligentsia—people with academic credentials—one judge (in the magistrate's court), two doctors, three lawyers and four dentists. Jewish involvement in public life was evident with Jews on the municipal council (usually providing a secretary) and there were also Jews in various government positions.
Rakhiv Population Table
As stated above, the town limits of Rakhiv included the village of Berlbash, located at a distance of 9 km. All of the citizens were Ruthenians. In Berlbash, they were able to sustain a minyan (corium of ten men) out of about 50 people total. Before the Holocaust, the following Jews lived there: the wagon owner Eliahu, the butcher Isaiah ARBAST, flour mill owner Moses ARBAST, wagon owner Abraham Hirsh ARBAST, grocery store owner KRUMHOLTZ, Mordecai the tavern owner, ADLER the carpenter, and landowner Fishel ARBAST. Because of the distance from town, they had their own minyan (before the holocaust it was in the home of Abraham Hirsh ARBAST, before that in Moshe ARBAST's house). All other aspects of their religious services came from Rakhiv, such as use of the mikvah (ritual bath house), the shochet of Rakhiv came there on a regular basis and they buried their loved ones in the Rakhiv cemetery. All the Jews of Berlbash were fervent Vishnitz Hassidim (in contrast to the Jews of Rakhiv who had many hassidic followers, especially Sighet). When the Vishnitz rabbi stayed at the sanatorium in Kvasi, all the Jews of Berlbash stopped work to be near him.
About 3 km from Berlbash is a tiny settlement called Vilhobad where two Jews lived—a merchant and a shoemaker. They were included in the local Berlbash Eruv (physical boundary), so when they wanted to pray with a minyan, they walked to Berlbash. Today there are no Jews in either Berlbash or Vilhobad.
After the Vienna Agreement (2 November 1938), when Carpatho-Rus' was annexed to Hungary with the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Hungarian State of Mármaros was split. The northern and central areas (everything north of the Tisza River) was given to the newly formed state of Czechoslovakia, whereas the southeastern area (south of the Tisza) was given to Romania. Rakhiv was located north of the Tisza and now became part of Czechoslovakia.
Following the Hungarian occupation in March 1939, some young Jews from Rakhiv succeeded in fleeing to the Soviet Union, being among the first to join the Czechoslovakian brigade that fought against the Nazis on the eastern front in 1941.
In 1941, the Hungarians drafted many young people into their Slave Labor Battalions, sending them east for forced labor or to the eastern front where many died. In the summer of 1941, dozens of Jewish families—without Hungarian citizenship—were expelled to Kamenets-Podolski, where they were murdered. The remaining 950 Jews of Rakhiv were deported to Auschwitz in late May, 1944, and where most of them were murdered. In all, 1,220 Rakhiv Jews perished in the Holocaust.
A few hundred Jews returned to Rakhiv after their liberation, with most leaving for Israel in the 1970s.
Today, Rakhiv is a raion (district) center in the Zakarpats'ka oblast of Ukraine with a city population of 15,241 (2001) inhabitants which includes: 83.8% Ukrainians, 11.6% Hungarians, 3.2% Romanians and 0.8% Russians. There are a few elderly Jewish widows and one Jewish family—the PINKASOVYCH family—who live there today (2011).
Rakhiv is the highest point of Ukraine at an elevation of 430 meters above sea level. The Rakhiv district is 15% of the Sub-Carpathia region, being one of its largest and comprises the Ukraine's greatest mountain peaks: Hoverla - 2,061 m; Brebenescul - 2,035 m; Pop Ivan - 2,022 m; Petros - 2,020 m; Hutyn Tomnatyc - 2,017 m and Rebra - 2,007 m. Interesting sights to see in and around Rakhiv are the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, Museum of Forest Ecology, the highest mountainous waterfall—Trufanets, and the Geographical Center of Europe marker—located in nearby Dilove—calculated by the Austro-Hungarian geographers in 1887 and has the Latin inscription: Locus Perennis Dilicentissime cum libella librationis quae est in Austria et Hungaria confectacum mensura gradum meridionalium et paralleloumierum Europeum. MD CCC LXXXVII.
Sources: Encyclopedia of Ukraine Rachov portion of Sefer Mármaros, translated by Eldad M. GANIN, USA The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust, (2001), p. 1055. Wikipedia
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