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Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 18:54:39 EST

<x-html><!x-stuff-for-pete base="" src="" id="0" charset=""><HTML><FONT FACE=arial,helvetica><FONT SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0">Hi, my name is Stanley Brechner, and I have just come across your wonderful website on Czernowitz and Galicia-Bukovina.

I live in NYC and despite running a professional theatre here (The American Jewish Theatre) for many years, I knew little or nothing about where my grandparents on my father's side came from. And so, recently, I decided to remedy that.

I started by visiting theri gravesites at a cemetary in NYC called Mt. Hebron and discovered that my grandparents and great-parensts are all buried within the cemetary 'block' attributed to the First Bukowiner Synagogue and its corresponding burial society, founded many,many years ago.

>From there, I got the exact dates of death and then went to look at the actual death certificates, then marriage certificates, and as a result, I was able to put together their history and mine.

Both my paternal grandfather and my paternal grandmother came separately to NYC in 1900 at the ages of 16 and 15 respectively with their families. The place of origin was listed only as Austria, which is what my family had always known. My great-grandfather listed his place of origin as "Galitzean-Austria" which was one step beyond just Austria. But all along, the question of why they were all buried within a block of the "Bukovina" Synagogue" was puzzling.

Finally, however, after digging out my grandparents marriage certificate, all was answered: they came from Sadagora, which of course made little sense to me at the time. And so, I investigated further and found out how Austria-Galicia-Bukovina-Sadagora connected, and it was a very pleasant surprise. As most of you know, Sadagora was the Jewish shtetl (80% of the village were Jews) just 5 miles or so north of Czernowitz.

I then discovered that of the 271,000 Jews who emigrated to the US between the years 1890-1910, an astounding 85% were from Galicia. And then I inestigated Sadagora-Czernowitz further. First of all, none of my cousins could ever figure out why my paternal grandparents were always going to a farm in Connecticut, perhaps they even owned it. Their children became successful businessmen and doctors, so where did this affinity to farming come from? Jewish farmers?

And then it all made sense when I learned of the Austrian government's decrees to train Jews as farmers and in fact at a certain point, expelling any Jew who was not in farming or in a related support profession. And then the decree in 1810 that all Jews and Galicians change their family names to German names, mostly related to their profession.

A huge plurality of Jews from Czernowitz and Sadagora have the last name of BRECHER (my last name is BRECHNER, the only such deviation of BRECHER I came across). In the early years after the opening of the University of Czernowitz, no less than 9 BRECHERS are enrolled. In German, the word BRECHER means 'breaker.' And indeed, in several accounts of life in Czernowitz/Sadagora, there are multiple references to the many "Jewish barley millers clacking and grinding their foot-operated barley mills at the fairs and markets," an area known for its production of beer, schnappes, and especially wine. One of my Brechner cousins is a wine connoisseur, and of course, there were many working-class wine connoisseurs in Czernowitz/Sadagora at the time my grandparents lived there. In all likelihood, we came from a family of barley crackers or breakers.

The one question that stood out in my mind was the 'why' they all came here. And then I discovered there were the crippling 1886 tariff wars imposed by the Austrians against neighboring Russia and Romania. Since the region of Bukovina bordered on both Russia and Romania and relied very heavily on trade with them, most of these self-employed and self-reliant Jewish families were financially crippled and lost their competitive edge as exports out of Bukovina became too expensive, and so the Russian and Romanian buyers went elsewhere for their goods. Jewish families were left in a devastating crunch with little or no credit to obtain. That is probably the reason for the startling number of Jews emigrating to the USA between 1890 and 1910, including my grandparents and their families in 1900.

Anyway, that is my story, and I thought it would be nice to share it with someone else. My paternal grandfather was DAVID BRECHNER, his father was ISRAEL BRECHNER. My paternal grandmother was LENA YURMAN, and her father was AARON YURMAN. They all emigrated to NYC in 1900 to the Lower East Side (E. 6th Street/Ludlow Street) with their families. I assume the First Bukovina Synagogue was then located there.

Stanley Brechner </FONT></HTML>

Received on 2002-12-16 07:57:58

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