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Vizhnitsa

VIZHNITSA

VIZHNITSA (Rom. Vijnita ; Yid. Vizhnits ), town in Chernovtsy district, Ukraine. Before World War i Vizhnitsa belonged to Austria, and between the world wars to Romania. The town derives its fame from the local ḥasidic rabbis (see hasidic dynasty *Vizhnitz). Jews began to settle in the town under Moldavian rule in the mid-18th century. In 1774, under Austrian administration, there were 60 Jewish families (191 persons); by 1782 there were 61 families, and in 1807 there were 64. Later many Jewish settlers were attracted by the Vizhnitsa rabbis and by 1900 there were 4,738 Jews and in 1930, 2,666. A ḥevra kaddisha existed from 1768. After the Austrian annexation the Jews were subject to restrictions and persecutions; 19 families were expelled in 1774 on the claim that they did not contribute to the town's agricultural development. In 1789 the authorities ordered the expulsion of all the Jews for the same reason, but this order was not carried out entirely.

During World War i the town was nearly destroyed. The Jews fled to Vienna and some did not return. The rabbi at that time, Israel Hager of the *Kosov dynasty, moved to *Oradea, where he established his court. Vizhnitsa now ceased to be a ḥasidic center.

Under early Austrian rule the community was affiliated with the *Chernovtsy congregation and became independent only in the mid-19th century. By 1888 there were already eight prayer houses, classed according to the congregants' professions. There was a large yeshivah, and in 1921 a Hebrew elementary school was founded. Between the world wars Zionist youth and adult groups were active. Several descendants of the ḥasidic dynasty settled in Israel, where they established yeshivot and ḥasidic centers in Haifa and Bene Berak. From 1941 the Jewish community suffered drastically, and in August of that year 2,800 Jews were deported to death camps. About 800 remained alive and most of them immigrated to Israel.

In 2005, the city had a Jewish community center.

bibliography:

N.M. Gelber, in: H. Gold (ed.), Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina, 1 (1958), 89–90; ibid., 2 (1962), 120–2.

[Yehouda Marton]

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