Jews from Dorohoi, Bucovina, being transported over the Dniester River to Transnistria, 10 June 1942. (Yad Vashem)

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Romanian town on the border between Moldavia and Bucovina. An important entrepôt for trade with Poland, Dorohoi attracted Jews as early as the fifteenth century, but the oldest documented reference to their presence is a gravestone dating to 1656. Among the Jews who were called upon to establish or to populate towns in Moldavia, a few settled in Dorohoi. A charter (hrisov) issued by prince Constantin Şuțu in 1795 includes a list of duties and taxes payable by Jews.

Jewish numbers increased, reaching more than half of the population by the end of the nineteenth century, but then dropping to just more than one-third on the eve of World War II: from 600 taxpayers in 1803, to 1,133 in 1831; to 2,392 individuals in 1838, to 3,031 in 1859 (50.1% of the total population); to 6,903 in 1899 (54%), to 6,400 in 1910; and to 5,820 in 1930 (36.6%). The organized Jewish community was classified as a guild (Breasla Jidovilor—The Jews’ Guild) between 1799 and 1834, but then remained disorganized until 1894, when it acquired a new status that enabled it to collect a fee on meat sales. A home for the elderly and a canteen were established during the same year, as well as the charity organization Or Ḥayim in 1904.

Beside the Talmud Torah, a primary school was opened in 1896, with 164 pupils. In 1909, the Israelite-Romanian school was founded, in a building erected with the support of the ICA (Jewish Colonization Association); it functioned until 1948. Most Jews were active in commerce and crafts: in 1899 there were 357 Jewish merchants (as well as 29 Christians), and in 1902, there were 231 Jewish craftsmen (along with 66 Christians).

After World War I, the community established a kindergarten, purchased a sports court for the Maccabi association, founded a hospital (in 1920, managed by Dr. Aizic Schleicher), and built a new home for the elderly (in 1926). The Zionist movement was present from 1893, represented by the Ḥoveve Tsiyon association, the group Dorul Sionului (Longing for Zion) in 1901, and three youth movements during the interwar period: Ha-No‘ar ha-Tsiyoni, Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa‘ir, and Betar. There were also cultural groups, two libraries, and a branch of the Union of Romanian Jews (formerly the Union of Native Jews, set up in 1911).

Religious life was intense; beside the main synagogue built in 1824, the town had 21 other synagogues existing before World War II. The most prominent rabbis included Matityahu Kalman (d. 1824), the first known rabbi; Tsevi ben Yisra’el (1857–1886); Ḥayim Taubes (1886–1909); Yosef ben Eli‘ezer Ze’ev (d. 1913), author of the Hasidic book Yad Yosef (1927); Dov Ber Drimer (1889–1929), father of the writer Carol Drimer, a victim of the pogrom in Iaşi in 1941; Aharon Faibiş, who died in Transnistria; and after 1945—David Schachter, Meier Marilus Meier, and Pinḥas Wasserman.

On 1 July 1940, after Bessarabia, Bucovina, and Herța county were occupied by the Soviets, a unit of the Romanian army arrived in Dorohoi and perpetrated a pogrom. In the Jewish cemetery and in the town, soldiers shot dozens of Jewish soldiers and Jewish inhabitants, including women and children. Approximately 200 people were killed, of whom 44 were identified; the following year, after the Nazi war against the USSR had begun, it was followed by the forced expulsion of approximately 2,000 Jews from Darabani, Mihăileni, Rădăuți, Săveni, and from villages of Dorohoi county. They were gathered in Dorohoi, then deported to Transnistria in November 1941. Shortly thereafter, 3,000 Jews from Dorohoi itself were also deported: many of them died on the way before arriving in Ataki, near the Dniester.

Only 2,000 Jews were left in Dorohoi, and they were banned from economic activity and subjected to discrimination. Thanks to the intervention of Jewish leaders in Bucharest and as a result of the changing fortunes of war, the deportees still alive were allowed to return in December 1943: only 2,000 Jews from Dorohoi (out of 3,074 who had been expelled) and 6,053 from Dorohoi county (10,368 expelled) returned. After the war, several thousand survivors from Transnistria who could not return to their homes (especially from Bucovina) arrived, but many Jews left the town quickly and immigrated to Palestine.

The Jewish population totaled 5,396 (34.6% of the general population) in 1941; 2,315 in 1942; 7,600 in 1947; but just 2,723 in 1956; 122 in 1991 (less than 1% of the town’s 33,000 habitants); 98 in 1992; and 49 in 2000. Natives of Dorohoi include the economist and sociologist Ştefan Antim (Wexler; 1879–1944); the writers Iosif Andronic (Bercovici; 1897–1991), Ion Călugăru (Buium Croitoru; 1902–1956), and Saşa Pană (Alexandru Binder; 1902–1981); and the actors Jenny Kessler (1930?– ) and Alex Munte (1929– ), both of whom immigrated to Israel in 1970.

Suggested Reading

Matatias Carp, Cartea neagră: Suferințele evreilor din România, 1940–1944, vols. 1 and 3 (Bucharest, 1946–1948); Theodor Lavi and Dorah Lita’ni, “Dorohoi / Dorohoi,” in Pinkas ha-kehilot: Romanyah, vol. 1, pp. 104–110 (Jerusalem, 1969); Israel Marcus (Marius Mircu), Pogromurile din Bucovina şi Dorohoi (Bucharest, 1945); David Shlomo, ed., Dorot shel yahadut ve-tsiyonut: Dorohoi, vols. 1–5 (Kiryat Byalik, Isr., 1992–2000).



Translated from French by Anca Mircea