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Brief History of the Jewish Shtetl, Radauti

Radauti (Romanian-Radauti, German-Radautz, Yiddish-Radowitz), city in Bukovina, northern Romania, near the Ukrainian border. The first Jews to settle there came from Bohemia in the late 18th century, and were later joined by others from Galicia and Russia. Three Jewish families were listed in the tax register of 1807.

The Jews of Radauti were at first affiliated with the community of the district capital Suceava. They opened their own synagogue in 1830, when a Talmud Torah was also founded. Subsequently, land for a cemetery was acquired (until them the cemetery at Siret had been used).

After Radauti became an independent community, it established its own institutions. The Jewish population numbered 3,452 in 1880 (30.9% of the population), and 6,000 in 1914. In 1888, there were in Radauti, eight prayer-houses (Shtiblekh) in addition to the Central Synagogue. In that year, 523 heads of families were registered in the community. Chassidism had a strong influence on Jewish life in Radauti, especially the Vizhnitz, Bojan, and Sadagora dynasties. The Chassidim held services in their own Kloyzen and were frequently the cause of local disputes in their opposition to Zionism. There had been adherents of Zionism in Radauti from the beginning of the Bilu movement, and in 1892, a local group, Ahavat Zion, was founded. The movement gained headway in the early 20th century.

When the city was incorporated in Romania (1918), the Zionist parties began to exert an active presence in municipal and communal affairs. Members of the Bund were also active on the municipal and community councils. A Hebrew school, which maintained a kindergarten and adult courses, was supported by the community. From 1919 to 1926, a private Jewish High School also functioned in Radauti. In 1930, the community numbered 5,647 (about 31% of the total population). Among the Rabbis of Radauti were Eliezer Lipmann Kunstadt (officiated 1894-1907); Jacob Hoffmann (1912-23); and the Hebrew author and scholar Jacob Nacht (1925-28). Romanian anti-semites increased their agitation in 1939, and in October 1941, the Jews of Radauti, numbering 4,763 (32% of the total population), were deported to death camps. In 1942, there were only 42 Jews remaining in the city.

Some survivors made their way back in 1944, and, by 1947, there were as many as 6,000 Jews living in the city. The Zionist movement regained strength after World War II (until the government decided to dissolve it in 1949). New communal and welfare institutions were established with the aid of overseas organizations, such as OSE, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the World Jewish Congress. But their activities gradually decreased. From 1948, the community dwindled through emigration to Israel and other countries. In 1971, only 700 Jews remained in the city (3.5% of the total population). Some communal activity continued, however, including the holding of Sabbath and Holiday services in the Central Synagogue.

(from the database of Beth Hatefutsoth - the Jewish Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv - reprinted with permission)