Funeral of Rabbi Chaim Eleazar Spira

Funeral of Rabbi Chaim Eleazar Spira
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  • Photo taken in:
    Mukachevo
    Year when photo was taken:
    1937
    Country name at time of photo:
    Czechoslovakia, 1918-1938
    Country name today:
    Ukraine
This is a picture from the funeral of rabbi Chaim Spira. The photo was taken in Mukachevo in 1937. Mukachevo was a Jewish town. It was even called 'little Jerusalem' and it was a center of Hasidism. There was a yeshivah, a Jewish higher educational institution, in Mukachevo. The chief rabbi at the yeshivah was the popular Hasidic rabbi Chaim Spira [Shapira]. Rabbi Chaim Spira died in 1937. Hasidim from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Poland came to his funeral. My father took me to his funeral although my mother protested. She was afraid that I might be treaded down by the crowd. I can remember very clearly the funeral of Spira. The whole town was in mourning. There were black cloths on the houses and people wore dark clothes. It looked as though it got dark all of a sudden. Non-Jewish residents also came to the funeral. There were police patrols in the streets and policemen were wearing special safety hats in case of trouble. People took turns to carry the casket from the house where Rabbi Spira lived, across the town and out of town to the Jewish cemetery. Every five to ten meters the casket was handed over to another group of men. There were so many of those that were willing to carry it that the casket could have been easily handed over all the distance between Mukachevo and Uzhgorod. Men were carrying it on their shoulders to pay honor to Rabbi Spira. People were crying. However young I was I remember this overwhelming grief. So many people came to the cemetery that there wasn't an inch of space left there.

Interview details

Interviewee: Ernest Galpert
Interviewer:
Ella Levitskaya
Month of interview:
April
Year of interview:
2003
Uzhgorod, Ukraine

KEY PERSON

Chaim Eleazar Spira
Decade of birth:
1880
City of birth:
Munkacs
Country name at time of birth:
Austria
Year of death:
1937
City of death:
Mukachevo
Died:
before WW II
Occupation
before WW II:
Rabbi

Additional Information

Also interviewed by:
Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation
Date of interview:
1997

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