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Photographs of Czernowitz

(also known as Cernauti (Romanian),

Chernivtsi (Ukrainian), Chernovtsy(Russian))


Bukowina, once the easternmost province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was proud of its capital, Czernowitz. Full of architectural gems, this city was known as a "Little Vienna". Like its counterpart, it boasted of a thriving culture. In its glory days, it was a melting pot of ethnic groups of which the Jewish community made up more than 30%, over 50,000 individuals. Yiddish and Jewish culture thrived with the likes of Eliezer Shtainbarg and Paul Celan. The famous melody, Hava Nagilah, began in Czernowitz. Today, fewer than 12,000 mostly unaffiiliated Jews still live here. There is just a single active Temple which rarely attains a minyan at prayer services. Yet since the early 1990s, Yiddish writer Josef Burg, and Mrs. Eugenia Finkel, have organized efforts to revive Yiddish culture. Jewish groups have re-occupied several rooms of the Jewish National House (see picture below). The single temple has constructed a new mikvah (ritual bath), and there are other signs of a revival in religious life. Life is very hard in this now impoverished region, yet the spirits of those who live here remain strong.

( Photos by Bruce I. Reisch Copyright © 1998)

Some of the following photos were taken during the July, 1998, trip of Bruce Reisch Back to Bukovina.



City Hall on "Ringplatz", many years ago.


City Hall, July, 1998.


City Hall, July, 1998.
OldTheatre State Theatre, many years ago.
State Theatre, July, 1998.
Nationalhaus Jewish National House, many years ago.

Jewish National House, July, 1998. Today the Jewish community occupies just a small portion of the space.

InsideNationalhaus Jewish National House, Lions of Judah inside the front entrance.
CzernCemetery Temple at front entrance of the Czernowitz Cemetery.
CzernCem2 Some elegant tombstones of Czernowitz. This area near the main gate is accessible, but, due to overgrown shrubs, much of this very large cemetery is not.
CzernCemet3 Another elegant temple inside the main cemetery entrance. A fallen tree rests on the domed roof.
CzernCem4 Elegant tombstones, barely visible through the shrubby growth.
CzernTemple Facade of the only active Temple in Czernowitz. Located on Vulitsa Kobilyanska, this house of worship is well-kept and a new mikvah was under construction at the time of my visit, July, 1998.
CzernTemple2 Detail of the facade of the Temple in Czernowitz.
CzernTemple3 The Ark of the Temple in Czernowitz - elegant chandelier hangs nearby.
The central train station in Czernowitz, early 1900s.
"Greetings from Czernowitz / Betriebsleitung", early 1900s.

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