Gura Humorului (Romanian) respectively Gura Humora (German) is a town in the southern part of the Bukovina region, in the North Romanian Suceava County. The town is situated 36 km west of Suceava, 45 km from Kampolong Moldovanski and 120 km from Bistriza on the railway line to Clus, in the Moldova Valley, 600-800 meters above the land around, surrounded by forests. The average summer temperature is 30 centigrade, while the winter temperatures plummet occasionally down to -30 centigrade. The average annual amount of sediments is 800 mm. The number of its population is 16,672 (true for 2005) and the population density is 7 persons per 1 square km.
The general structure of the population is as follows: children up to the age of 14: 4741, residents aged between 15 and 64: 10,269, residents above 65: 1662. The general population features 8224 women and 8448 men.
The local residents are mainly occupied with the industries of wood, food and tourism. In addition, they are also occupied with the production of shoes, mechanical tools and chemicals, while 8% of the population is involved with agriculture. 61% of the overall number of employees and workers is occupied in commerce, 20% in production, 15% in services and 4% in construction. The general income is increasing constantly from 454 Million lei in 1993 to 730 Million lei in 2000; however, contrary to the increase of income, the number of the employed decreases every year.
It used to be a District Town in Bukovina, which was situated in the eastern end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The town was founded February 26, 1490 by Stefan the Great (Stefan cel Mare). The related evidence is a document given by the Ruler Stefan the Great to the Voroneț Monastery, in which he conferred the settlement as well as the lands on the estuary of the Humor River to the monastery.
The Region of Bukovina was occupied in the year 1774 by the Austrians. Due to the strategic importance of the site as a cross road, an Austrian garrison was posted there, followed by a fortress built in 1782, around which the town kept growing. As a matter of course, the very existence of the garrison on the site caused an acceleration of its development. In the 16th and during the first years of the 17th century the population increased due to immigration of German Protestants, mainly from the region, which is now Slovakia.
In the year 1835 immigrants from various nations started to reach the place, who subsequently built a new residential area called Bori. Jewish settlement started1845 – three Jewish families called the town their home, and in the year 1857 the Jewish population there already counted 2033 souls. The influence of the local Jewish population was significant enough to make Jews be nominated as deputies of the mayor.
The railway reached the town in the year 1866. The station built on the site further accelerated the development of the area. The local post was established 1877 and in 1835 the town was connected with Vienna by telegraph.
As of the year 1893 the town was given the status of District’s Capital.
The settlement had been officially recognized as town in 1904; however, in the year 1925, under the Romanian rule, the town lost its status as the District’s Capital, when the Suceava County was increased to include also the town of Gura Humorului.
History of the Jewish Community
The first reference to Jews in Gura Humora appears in a document dated 1782. In the year 1790, a Jewish family was already leaving there. In 1835 only a few Jewish families dwelt in the settlement.
The Jewish community started to be organized in 1848; around 20 families lived then in the settlement and a synagogue was erected. As of the year 1865 the Jewish community started to maintain population registers. Schalom Schieber was the first Head of Community to be nominated. In the year 1869 the community counted 800 souls, about a third of the whole population. The income of the Jewish Community came mainly from ritual slaughter fees.
Between the two world wars the community thrived due to granting rights to Jews – the same enjoyed by the other citizens. Most of the commerce was in Jewish hands, so much so, that on Saturdays most of the city’s stores were closed. Numerous youth movements existed in the city and the Jews were perfectly integrated in its life. This idyllic situation came to an end on the eve of the Second World War due to the rise of the Nazis and the effect of their ideas.
Deportation to Transnistria
During the Second World War the Jewish population was deported to Transnistria by order of the Romanian Authorities and Marshal Ion Antonescu. Many of the Jews deported to Transnistria perished due to diseases, starvation and murder.
Subsequent to the Second World War
After the war and along with the erection of the State of Israel, most of the Gura Humorului Jews immigrated to this country and after additional immigration waves only very few Jews remained there. The last Head of Community, Don Ioni, passed away in 2004, and thus the Jewish Community ceased to exist.
We know about an elderly Jewish woman living presently in the place, but actually, there are no other Jews left.
The erstwhile residents of Gura Humorului and their descendants in Israel founded an Association of the Ex Residents of Gura Humorului and Its Environment, of which the main occupation is the support of needy ex residents of the town and organizing conferences for commemoration and encounters. The Association, founded in 1986, was headed by Iurgrau Jakob (Jacky, deceased June 7, 2008) and beside him his friends Shlomo After and Lea Laufer (deceased 2003), Shraga Yeshurun, David Erez (deceased 1999) and others. In the year 1990 they published a comprehensive book, which documents the history of the Jewish Community of of Gura Humorului. A large project promoted by the Association is the refurbishment of the cemetery of Gura Humorului and the publishing of a memorial book: Gura Humorului, a Town in Southern Bukovina as well as the erection of an internet site specific to the city.