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Compiled by Marcel Glaskie
Contact: Marcel Glaskie
Dated: July 2010
Copyright © 2010 Marcel Glaskie
Webpage Design by Marcel Glaskie

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Sue nee Glickman & Rod visit Răducăneni in August 2014

Harris & Fanny Glickman

Photo courtesy of Neville Goodman
author of the Moss family

Harris & Fanny with
daughter Bertha & son Solomon
Bertha's wedding
Photos courtesy of Minna Harris nee Glickman

by Henry S. Glickman  Ph. D.

Thanks to Sue Lever (nee Glickman) for the retyping & editing.

To view photos taken by Dr. Henry Glickman on his visit, click links:
Cemetery  and  Views

To navigate back to this page after viewing the photos, click on the link adjacent to the photos "Glickman in Family Album"

   MY GRANDFATHER WAS born in Raducaneni, in the Moldavian region of Rumania, about 100 years ago. He left the village in the last decade of the nineteenth century and made his way to Manchester, England, where he married and had five sons. He did not prosper economically and died quite young several years before I was born.

   My parents lived in Manchester for a few years after their marriage, then moved to Glasgow where I was born and grew up. After finishing secondary school, I spent six years in Israel and for the past ten years I have been living in New York. Last summer, I took my wife and two small children to visit Raducaneni.

   I had always pictured the Eastern European shtetl as being cold and bleak so it came as something of a surprise to find that Raducaneni and the surrounding countryside were very pleasant. We approached the village from the north, climbing gradually from a marshy plain, through fields covered with vines and maize. Wild flowers in a variety of bright colors grew profusely along the roadside. Then from the top of a rise we came upon the village, lying in a shallow valley. There were rows of stucco cottages on both sides of the road, with tiled roofs and high wooden fences. The steeple of the Catholic church rose above the other buildings. At first we could see no movement but when we drove into the village we found a group of people gathered casually round a public well at the side of the road. The sun was shining and the village looked warm and peaceful. Somehow I had never imagined Raducaneni in summertime.

   THE IMAGE I had of what the shtetl looked like was obviously connected with what I imagined it was like to live there. I knew that there were people who referred to it as Der Heim (home) but to me it represented an austere and confining existence. The danger to life and property was not the only thing that made living conditions harsh. There were also the rigors of an implacable religious fervor and a narrow intellectualism. It is true that there was a strong sense of community but to me it seemed like the uncomfortable cohesiveness of people huddling together against the storm. These cultural traits had survived the shtetl  itself;  I had observed them directly in others and in my own experience I had not fully outgrown them.

   I had never seen a pogrom but the physical insecurity suffered by my ancestors in Eastern Europe was vivid in my mind and there was ample historical documentation. For most of the nineteenth century Rumania was dominated by Tsarist Russia with its reactionary Orthodox church. The treaty of Berlin in 1878 recognised the independence of Rumania on condition that freedom of religion would be guaranteed for all citizens. But there was no relief for the Jews. Russian-inspired pogroms and persecution increased in intensity in the ensuing years and Jews were officially proclaimed to be aliens subject to legal discrimination. In 1895, an Anti-Semitic League was organised with the blessings of the Rumanian government. Religious passions were inflamed against the Jews in Moldavia and other regions by the revival of the Blood Libel.

   It was hard to associate these horrors with the tranquil, rather lethargic village which we found on the day of our visit. The people at the public well seemed curious and friendly when we approached them and I could detect no trace of distrust or hostility when I put the two questions I had learnt in Rumanian: “Where is the Jewish synagogue?” and “Where is the Jewish cemetery?” The postman, whom I approached first, seemed puzzled by my inquiry. He indicated that he did not know and continued on his way, pushing his bicycle before him. But the rest of the group discussed the matter among themselves with lively interest. They seemed to be telling us that we would not be able to find what we were looking for, that there were no Jews in Raducaneni. They were open-faced, genial people who were obviously trying to be helpful. Then one of the women suddenly had an idea. She pointed back up the road and asked us to squeeze her into our car so that she could take us to talk to the Jew Moskowitz.

   The parents and grandparents of this woman were my grandfather’s neighbors. He must have known days like this one: beautiful weather, friendly faces and his native village lying in a fertile valley. I had long been aware of the dark side of the shtetl tradition and how it had influenced my view of the world. But now it seemed to me that the shtetl and its tradition had light as well as shade which should, perhaps, have been obvious from the start.

   THERE WAS HISTORICAL  support for such a view. In the early nineteenth century the Hussite Protestant church in Moldavia welcomed and protected Jewish residents, many of whom came from neighboring Bessarabia. Jewish doctors and merchants were prosperous and highly esteemed; Jewish schools were established reflecting different shades of orthodoxy. Raducaneni itself had a long history of accepting Jewish settlers. It was founded in 1838 and almost until the end of the century had a Jewish majority. At the time my grandfather left the village, in the midst of a wave of Jewish emigration, only about half of its 3,000 inhabitants were gentiles. In 1907, during a local uprising against the government, peasants from neighboring villages invaded Raducaneni to attack and plunder the Jewish community. The Roman Catholic inhabitants fought back to protect the Jews and succeeded in repelling the marauders. All this, of course, against a background of continual persecution; and it scarcely needs to be added that things did not go well for the Jews who remained in Moldovia until the Second World War. But the promise and the possibility of acceptance by the gentiles, or by some of them, was a persistent feature of the Jewish experience.

   Nor was this ambiguity, and the ambivalence it produced, entirely alien to my own personal experience. I knew what it was to be an outsider looking wistfully in. I knew the yearning for acceptance and belonging and its obverse, a defiant pride in being different. And it went beyond relations with gentiles. I was an outsider in Israel, too (which did not prevent me from developing bonds of affection for the country and its people). One can always find a minority with which one can identify oneself. I had detected an interesting kind of figure-ground reversal in my social perceptions. When reading the New York times, for example, I sometimes felt mildly self-conscious about being a British citizen and I found myself hoping that the paper would speak well of my country; but when I was with other British citizens I might feel a little defensive about subscribing to the New York Times and hope the others would give the paper their approval. Being Jewish was, indeed, a state of mind.

   IT TURNED OUT that Moskowitz was not from Raducaneni at all but he was the only Jew who could be found in the village. He was the manager of the local agricultural cooperative which appeared to be responsible for the gathering and marketing of all the produce of the village. Moskowitz was a man in his fifties, dressed much like the other employees around him. He spoke to us in fluent Yiddish. Raducaneni, he told us, had five synagogues before the war but now there were no synagogues and no Jews.  As Moskowitz recalled it, conditions were difficult in the old days and men had to live by their wits, which suited some of them very well and went hard with many others.

   Moskowitz arranged for one of the villagers to take us to the Jewish cemetery. We certainly could never have found it on our own. Only the main road running through the centre of the village was paved; once we left it we were on winding mud paths interspersed with numerous ruts and bumps. We yielded the right of way to geese, hens and pigs wandering freely between the cottages. Finally, we left the residential part of the village and started up a steep narrow path between cultivated fields. Before long we had to abandon the car and continue on foot to the top of the hill. It seemed like a strenuous journey for a funeral cortege. Looking back, we could see the whole village stretched out before us.

   An abandoned concrete building at the edge of a field marked the entrance to the cemetery. The field itself was covered with the long green leaves of a maize crop and showed no sign of graves. Beyond it we passed through a cherry orchard, then emerged into a broad expanse across which were scattered dozens, perhaps hundreds, of grey unpolished gravestones. The terrain was irregular. Parts of the area were planted with maize, other parts with grass and weeds; and there was a group of men with scythes who seemed to be clearing one section for cultivation. From where we stood, in the midst of the gravestones, the village was completely hidden from view. Rolling farm country surrounded us on all sides.

   Jews have always sought secluded, private places for the burial of their dead. It is as if they were aware of how the dead can interfere and wished to be given a chance to take a fresh look at their problems and deal with them in their own way. It is not for the dead, says a Talmudic dictum, to contradict the living. They are not entitled to do so, but the Jews know that it happens every day.  In Raducaneni the dead had been well concealed and soon the remaining graves might completely disappear; I looked in vain for the graves of my own great-grandparents. But I had not forgotten them. I wondered whether they would be pleased, or surprised, if they could see me standing there amongst them.

   WE SAW GRAVES dating back to the turn of the century and some as late as the 1950s. Most were simple things, identifying only the first name of the deceased and the first name of his or her father; they were written in Hebrew, occasionally with a few words in German. A woman called Zlatteh, the daughter of Meir, who died in 1906, was described as elderly, chaste and esteemed. A crude seven-branched candelabra was engraved superficially at the top of her stone. Other stones were without ornamentation or expressions of sorrow or praise; simply the fact of death. Several epitaphs began with a line from Lamentations: “My eye, my eye, runs down with water.”

   A few stones conveyed a greater sense of pride and prestige. Low relief pilasters and festoons adorned one of the stones, which was crowned with a star of David. “Here lies Mr. Meir Jacob son of Israel Zvi of blessed memory, known as Mr. Altir, an expert ritual slaughterer and examiner, and a fine cantor, from 5620 to 5665 (1860-1905), in this town of Raducaneni. May his soul be bound up with everlasting life.” Mr. Altir, and his cantorial abilities, must have been well known to my grandfather.

   One of the humblest stones was in the shape of an obelisk. A small stone tablet had been superimposed on it and the lettering was cramped and uneven. I could not make out the first name but the inscription said that she was “the daughter of Samuel Naphtali, killed by accursed murderers on the fifth of Tammuz  5691 (1931).” The word “accursed” was bigger than the rest and took up a whole line. A few feet away was an identical stone whose inscription recorded the murder of a man who died five days after the woman. His epitaph did not use the word “accursed” and ended with an abbreviation meaning: ”His soul is in Paradise.” The tablets on both stones were completely filled. It must have been a bitter choice: to bless the dead or to curse their murderers.

   There was no way of knowing from the gravestones who committed these crimes or why but the Jewish experience suggests that the perpetrators had a reason. It might have been their religious enthusiasm or nationalistic fervor, or a passion for freedom or equality, or rage against injustice. The precise ideology of the murderers didn’t matter to the Jews of Raducaneni because they believed that there was always going to be some cause or crusade which was impervious to reason and which justified the killing of Jews. For my part, I did not share the view that Jews were uniquely persecuted. There was enough prejudice to go around. But I did retain a fear of and revulsion for all forms of absolutism and unreasoning fanaticism. And, unreasonably enough, I sometimes found myself responding to the intolerance I deplored with angry intolerance of my own.

   WHEN WE RETURNED to the cooperative, everybody seemed very busy. Fresh fruit was being boxed, loaded and transported out of the village. Some of the workers came over to get a better look at us and they impressed me as being a cheerful, good-natured group of people. The woman who had first led us to the cooperative was waiting for us and greeted us warmly. When our  ten-month-old baby began to fret, she picked him up and calmed him by singing what sounded like a Russian lullaby. Moskowitz was there too. At his request, someone brought out a basin-full of ripe red cherries which were poured into a bag to supply us for the road. We were very pleased by this gesture and the good feelings seemed to be shared by all the people round about us.

   Then we were on our way, driving slowly back through the center of the village. At the outskirts there were two youths on the road who turned round as we approached. They had shaven heads, greyish complexions and bony cheeks. There was something sinister about them to my mind, and their passing glance as we drove by gave me a slight chill. It was like a warning to me not to accept at face value the good impressions--- or the bad ones--- which I had received during my visit to the village. And I wondered whether generations of threats and uncertainty had bequeathed to me the suspicion that things, and people, including myself, were not necessarily what they seemed to be.

   We drove south from Raducaneni along the west bank of the River Prut which marks the border between Russian Bessarabia and Moldavia.  It was a broad, muddy river with wooded islands on the middle. We ate the cherries as we travelled; they were juicy with a pungent, slightly bitter flavour, which I found very agreeable.

   IN THE OLD days, smugglers with family connections on both sides of the border used to cross the River Prut with their merchandise. Further north in Polish Galicia, the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Hassidic movement, would repair to the banks of the Prut for solitary meditation. He taught his disciples to serve the Lord with joy---an inner, insular joy, which could be achieved by a community that desensitized itself to the blows and the blandishments of the outside world.

   Rural Moldavia had not changed much in the past hundred years. The scenes we passed on our journey through the countryside were quiet and undramatic.  A man plodded behind a horse-drawn plough which he guided unsteadily across a field. An old woman carried a heavy wooden yoke across her shoulders, balancing a pail of water at each end. People stood waiting at a public well with assorted receptacles for water; there was no queue and no-one was in a hurry. And a stork which was nesting on the thatched roof of a cottage stretched its wings and lifted itself slowly into the air.

   I did not think I would like to live there today, or that I would have liked it a hundred years earlier. But if a man had left Moldavia for Manchester, I thought I could understand his feeling that something valuable had been left behind. The gentle landscape must have had something to do with it. Something made my grandfather feel that the love and the fear and the hate he had known in the shtetl had an inner harmony or meaning and the memory of his experience ought to be preserved.

Identity book of Harris Glickman    - courtesy of Sue Lever nee Glickman

Romanian Synagogue Manchester
Marriage in Manchester of
Nat & Rae Glickman

Morit Glicman

Information from Dmitriy Goldvekht

Malca (Malvina) Tecaci (nee Glickman)

Mark (Mordcha) Tecaci - husband of Malvina - owned a small atelier-tailor shop on Nicolina St.  What happened to the atelier?

Moisey Tecaci - son of Malca and Mark

Ester Mendel (nee Glickman)

Isaac/Itic Mendel - husband of Ester

Beti (Schendel) Mendel - daughter of Isaac and Ester Mendel

The Mendel family resided at 39 Arap (Arapului) St. in Iasi.  If possible, please find out what happen to the family, their house at Arap St., and their farm in Iasi.


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