Compilation of Memories (Memoirs)
Part 35

Lukivitz – 1891 – The Wood Business

Lukovitz- I lived in Lukovitz from the middle of 1891 until the end of 1896. This place is connected to two other places, Valushanitz and Meidan. These two villages belonged to the Romanian noble, Stordzi, who came from the Romanian royal family of Harams in the capital city of Bucharest. In Valushanitz, Jewish merchants from Kolomyea, I. A. Suchar and G. Bitterer bought 80 yachim of forest tracts. The wood from these trees was appropriate for planks, roofing and heating. I was hired by them to take care of the books and the accounting. The noble Stordzi and his son-in-law Baron Vasilki were liberal Romanians. Most of their clerks were Jews. The man in charge was Jacob Hasenfratz, a Jew from Vishnitz. Two Jews from Kolomyea bought the forest from him. The farming and the bookkeeping were in the hands of Jews and they made an honorable living. The village of Lukovitz and the other two adjoining villages had about 50 to 60 Jewish families and the rest were non-Jews. Most of the Jews owned wagons and made their living by bringing the trees from the forest. Some of them were merchants. All of them bought a wagon full of wood to sell in the market in Chernovitz or other places. There were dealers in livestock and horses who showed up every market day. As usual there were grocers, general storekeepers, inns, restaurants and everything that would enable them to earn a living. Most of them were simple Jews. Very few of them were educated. They had a small Beit Knesset, a bath house, a Mikvah, a Shochet and an inspector of Kashrut. On small questions, what was forbidden and permitted, the Shochet ruled. On bigger questions, they went to the head of the rabbinical court in Vishnitz. Sometimes there were questions that came before the Rabbi of the town Strashnitz that were tens of parasang (ancient unit of length) away.

Lukovitz was close to the Carpathian Mountains and the Sirat River. The train tracks cross the town which connects with the train line from Lvov to Iassi Romania. In the first year I lived on the other side of the river in the Valshenitz forest. There was no bridge and in order to pray on Shabbat, I was carried over on the shoulders of the forest guard. When the businessmen for whom I worked bought an additional forest in Mihava, I moved my apartment close to the train station that was on the border of Lukovitz-Mihava. The town of Mihava was divided into two large estates; one belonged to the Baron Vasilka, the second to the Jew R’Itzchak Frankel from Vishnitz. The Frankel estate was much larger and consisted of a large forest, many buildings, a winery and was close to the train station.

R’Frankel behaved as a spiritual Jewish grandfather and set up a Beit Knesset for the men and Ezrat Nashim (a place for women). The Jews who worked for him and those in Lukovitz and Mihava prayed there and I was one of them. Frankel dressed in clothes of silk with a Streimel (round fur hat) on his head, as did his sons and sons-in-law. They were educated but there was a touch of assimilation. Frankel supported his family, had an open hand for the poor and opened his house to visitors. All who worked for him were Jews including the manager of the farm. I was reminded of a story that I heard. Frankel was accustomed to show an important guest all the treasures in his house and on his estate. He introduced his workers with these words “This is my man, the head bookkeeper; this is my man, etc.”

(Pages 188/189)

He called everyone who worked for him “my man”. Once a learned man or a Rabbi visited him and gave a different introduction. A non-Jewish owner of an estate calls the manager “farvalter”, the bookkeeper “buchhalter”, the supply manager “magaziner”, etc.

Frankel had five sons and two daughters who married according to their father’s wishes with in-laws that came from good backgrounds. The grandchildren already had the German university culture from the city of Chernovitz. The Torah was strange to them.

The second part of the town Mihava belonged to the Baron Vasilka. There was a forest, a winery and fields of grain. Part of this was sold in my time to the Rabbi R’Kapel Brenner who lived in the neighborhood of Lvov or Stanislau. The Rabbi had never been a businessman. He bought the estate and everything in it for about 200,000 Austrian Kronen. A short time after he bought the estate, he sold it. The rumor was that he had over charged and he was afraid. The buyer was Graf Raa from the town Raashin Galicia. The buyer gave the Rabbi the purchase price plus a few thousand Kronen as profit. The Rabbi was happy to get out of this business. The buyer built a railroad track near the station of the sawmill to take the trees out of the forest. Within two years, the owner took out all the money he had invested. In ten years, the forest brought large profits outside of the income from other parts of the estate which came to two million. The Rabbi was smart? The non-Jew was dumb.

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Updated March 2013
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