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Town in the Moldavian region of Romania. Jewish settlement in Buhuşi (known in Yiddish as Bohush) dates from 1823; in 1831, the Jewish population was 32. The numbers continued to grow, totaling 537 in 1858 and 1,732 in 1899, representing 48 percent of the town’s population. Later, the numbers of Jews decreased (to 892 in 1910, due to emigration) but grew again: there were 1,419 in 1915; 1,972 in 1930; and 1,876 in 1941.

Many Jews held jobs in the textile industry as investors, technical employees, or workers. Others were craftsmen and merchants. A coeducational school was founded in 1897. At the end of the nineteenth century, four synagogues existed, and the Zionist movement began to be active as well. In 1905, an attempt to modernize the Jewish community failed because of conflicts among various groups; the organization succeeded only after World War I.

Buhuşi was the main Hasidic center of the pre–World War I Kingdom of Romania. The tsadik Yitsḥak ben Shalom Yosef Friedman (1834–1896) of the Ruzhin-Sadagora line established his court in Buhuşi in 1860 and had a significant following. The dynasty continued with Yisra’el Shalom Friedman (1856–1923), author of Pe’er Yisra’el and president of Kolel Romanyah be-Erets Yisra’el (the Romanian Jewish community in Palestine). In 1908, the yeshiva Bet Yisra’el was founded by his nephew, Menaḥem Mendel ben David Friedman, and by Menaḥem’s brother-in-law David Twersky, near the court of the rebbe. Secular subjects were also studied in this yeshiva. It functioned for only a few years and was closed due to financial difficulties.

The melody “Buhusher khusid,” from the traditions of Buhuşi Hasidim, was recorded in 1916 by Joseph Moskowitz, and became a classic klezmer song. In 1923, Menaḥem Mendel Friedman served as the last rebbe of the town. Other rabbis settled in Buhuşi as well. Shabetai ben Yitsḥak David Segal (Rashbid), whose responsa (She’elot u-teshuvot ha-Rashbid; 1926) were published by his son-in-law, Ben Tsiyon Roller, was a rabbi of the town. In 1908, he founded an additional yeshiva, Or Ḥadash li-Vene Tsiyon, which functioned until 1940 until it was closed by the authorities. In 1922, he was a member of the town’s municipal council.

In the interwar period, Jews were subject to persecution. Antisemitic leaflets were distributed in 1929, and Jews were molested and menaced in 1937 to prevent their participation in elections. During World War II, some community buildings were confiscated (in 1941–1944), and the rebbe’s house and synagogue were occupied by the Romanian army and ruined. In 1941, Jews of neighboring villages (Rediu, Roznov, Tazlău, Cândeşti, and Borleşti) were deported to Buhuşi; the local Jews were forced to house them. Menaḥem Mendel Friedman, ill and needing surgery in Bucharest, was forbidden by the authorities to leave Buhuşi; he died in 1943.

During the war, Jews were required to work in forced labor. After 1944, some who had been forcibly moved to the town still remained. In 1947, the Jewish population was 2,000, a number that diminished through emigration, mainly to Israel. Yitsḥak ben Shalom Yosef Friedman, the last rebbe’s nephew, who established himself in Bucharest as the Bohush rebbe, immigrated to Israel in 1951 and transferred the Buhuşi court to Bene Berak. Hasidim annually still visit the synagogue and the tombs of the rebbes in Buhuşi. In 2005, just four Jews were still living in the town.

Suggested Reading

Lucian-Zeev Herşcovici, “Kavim le-toldot ha-ḥasidut be-Romanyah,” in Toldot ha-yehudim be-Romanyah, vol. 2, pp. 185–203 (Tel Aviv, 2001); Josef Kaufman, Cronica comunităților israelite din județul Neamțu cuprinzând hrisoave, documente, inscripții, fotografii, vol. 2 (Piatra Neamț, Rom., 1929), pp. 345–383; Theodor Lavi, Dora Litani, “Buhush (Buhuşi),” in Pinkas ha-kehilot: Romanyah, vol. 1, pp. 21–24 (Jerusalem, 1969); Me’ir Vunder, Me’ore Galitsyah: Entsiklopedyah le-ḥakhme Galitsyah, vol. 4, cols. 145–236, 836–838 (Jerusalem, 1990).