This page is based on a web page researched and created by the late Mr Leslie Oberman (1927 - 2009), of Melbourne, Australia. Mr Oberman’s original page was sourced from the Wayback Machine (Internet Archive) version as of Jan 02, 2009, retrieved on 21 June 2011.

This page has been edited and adapted from Mr Oberman’s original by David Nathan.

You can also see Mr Oberman’s original page.

See also further resources related to Bucshester/Bookchester family.

Emigrants, Pioneers and Wanderers


Moineşti, Moldavia, Romania View Larger Map

The progenitors of the family were Avraham David Bucshester who was born in Moineşti, Moldavia, Romania (see map, right, and further information below) in 1837. His wife was Henya Davidescu who was born in Iasi, Romania. They had seven children; four sons — Moshe, Pesach Lev, Israel (Isadore), Zvi Yehuda — and three daughters; Sarah Leah, Rachel and Shulamit.

Today, their descendants can be found in Israel, Switzerland, UK, USA, Venezuela, and Australia.

Derivation of the family name

The family name derives from a locality named Bucşeşti. It is located just east of Moineşti, Romania, in an area about 230 kilometres north of the capital of Romania (Bucureşti/Bucharest). See the map at right.

In the phonetics of the Romanian alphabet:

  • ‘u’ sounds like the ‘oo’ in book
  • ‘c’ sounds like the ‘k’ in kit
  • ‘ş’ sounds like ‘sh’ in ship
  • ‘s’ sounds like the ‘s’ in sun
  • ‘ce’ sounds like ‘che’ in chest
  • ‘che’ sounds like ‘ke’ in keg

Hence the variation in the spelling of the name.

How should the name be spelt?

In the Hebrew literature regarding the history of Rosh Pina, Israel, David’s surname is spelt in three ways:

Translation from Hebrew produces various renditions:

BouckshesterBoucchester
BoocchechterBookshester
BuchshesterBuchester
BukshesterBukshtetter
BucashesterBucsescu

Many of the family in Israel have adopted the surname Oren.

David Bucshester in Moineşti and Iasi, Romania

Moineşti, turn of the century, shops on Alex Constantinescu Street, the town’s main street

David was a village shopkeeper and later managed an agricultural farm. Many of the villagers were fired with enthusiasm to resettle in the land of their forefathers, namely the land of Israel. In 1875 they formed an association for colonizing the land of Israel. Three of its members were sent to the land of Israel to explore the land and find country suitable for establishing a Moshava (village). Those who took part in the expedition were Mr Moishe David Shub, Mr David Bucshester and Mr Zeitel Ardini. They departed, even though the Turkish Pasha revealed that their return would be delayed by the uneasy political situation. Already there was a perception that a war between Russia and Turkey was imminent.

On behalf of their association they purchased the land of Gei-Oni. The story of Gei-Oni begins in the year 1878, the settlement year of 17 Jewish families from Zefat (Safed, a town in north-eastern Israel) in the Arab village of Ja Una, at the foot of Mount Canaan. At their head at that time stood Eliezer Rokach, a young Zefat resident, grandson of Rabbi Israel Beck. Crisis after crisis haunted them until their strength failed them. They chose to abandon their property and return to Zefat (Safed).

Prior to 1917, the territory that is now called Palestine and Israel was ruled by the Ottoman Turkish Empire, and included three Sanjaks, or districts (see map of Turkish territorial subdivisions). The name Palestine was officially revived by the British who received a mandate from the League of Nations after WW1 to administer Palestine, including a national home for the Jewish people.



Above: the Ottoman Empire around 1880 (source: Ottoman Sultans and Caliphs)

Right: Turkish territorial subdivisions of Palestine in 1914

About Moineşti, Moldavia, Romania

[This section contributed by Dan Bucsescu (see below). Dan’s father was born in Moineşti in 1913.]

Tombstones from 1740 and 1748 prove the existence of a Jewish settlement predating the foundation of the town (1781) and dating back to the discovery of oil in the vicinity. There were 42 Jewish families [as] taxpayers in 1820, 500 families in 1885, and 2398 individuals in 1899 (50% of the total population). The community was organized in 1885 and had 5 prayer houses, a ritual bath, and a primary school for boys (founded in 1893) as well as one for girls (founded in 1900).

The locality played a prominent role in the history of the colonization of Israel. Jews from Moineşti were founders of Rosh Pina. In 1881 a group of 50 families was organized which sent David Schub as a delegate to Eretz Israel. He purchased the plots of land where 22 families settled in the summer of 1882, together with other families from other Moldavian cities. The Moineşti Jews addressed a call to all Romanian Jews; the Pre-Zionist movement Yishuv Eretz Israel was subsequently established. Between the two world wars the number of Jews decreased to 1761 (26.6% of the population). After emancipation (1919) there were Jewish members on the municipal council, and in 1930 Moineşti even elected a Jewish mayor. Tristan Zara (Sami Rosenstein) a founder of the Dada movement, was born in Moineşti.

During WWII the Jews of Moineşti were expelled to Botosani. About 80 families returned after the war. The Jewish population numbered 480 in 1947, 400 in 1950 and about 15 families in 1969.

Emigration

With the receipt of the news of the purchase of the land came the preparation for the immigration of 22 families. Preparation was carried out with fervour. The immigrants took with them household utensils, tools suitable for agricultural work, bitumen for construction purposes, for building of wooden houses, planks, pots, doorways, windows, nails and so on. They took with them 2 personal guns.

The first group of 228 Romanian emigrants departed on the SS Thetis from the port of Galati/Galatz on the Danube River, not far from the Black Sea, on the morning of the 18th August 1882. The photograph shows the whole group boarding the SS Thetis. These people came from Moineşti, Botsani, Birlad, Bacau and Galati. When the ship arrived in Haifa, the passengers were refused landing permits by the Turkish authorities. Since most were Romanian citizens and since Romania had joined Russia to wage war against Turkey a few years before, the Turks were in no way sympathetic to the plight of the passengers. Time and again the ship shuttled between Beirut, Haifa, Jaffa and Egypt. After three fruitless attempts to disembark, permission was granted. Another version told of their arrival is that they mingled with a crowd of Christian pilgrims and were allowed to land disguised as Christian pilgrims.

On the way, aboard ship, a quarrel broke out between the people from Galatz and those from Moineşti regarding religious practice. The people from Galatz did not act precisely according to the commandments whereas the people from Moineşti were Orthodox. The people from Galatz decided to separate from them and settle elsewhere. But they travelled to Haifa, and besides them, nine families from Moineşti also separated and commenced to request a place of their own to settle in. Henya Davidescu/Bucshester’s sister Rivka Chava and her husband Arie Landman were part of the separated group and helped found the colony of Zamarin, now named Zikhron Ya'akov.

The immigrants left the city towards Zefat (Safed) that was ahead of them by way of the mountain road and four days riding on donkeys and asses. On the way one of the companions of the immigrants gave birth to a daughter and the travellers tarried for a mazel tov. The convoy arrived in Zefat at the end of September 1882. The Jews of Zefat came out to meet them with food and drink and to put up the immigrants in their houses during the Sabbath. After the Sabbath the immigrants paid rent to the families.

Foundation of Rosh Pina

Between the New Year and Day of Atonement 1882 there took place in Zefat a meeting of settlers. Moshe David Shub asked them whether they had sufficient money to enable them to exist until the harvest. It became abundantly clear that there was not enough money. Shub had proposed a plan to the immigrants whilst they were still in Romania, which said that every family required 2000 Francs to settle, in addition to the land. The majority of the immigrants had less than 2000 Francs whilst a few had from 2000 to 5000. A few of the family were totally without means and were dependant on relief. Shub proposed that at least in the first year all the families would cultivate the land in partnership, and everyone place their money into a general fund in the hands of an elected treasurer. The committee was to be concerned with construction of the houses, arranging the communal work, and and the general economics, afterwards to apportion the land in equal lots. The majority agreed to Shub’s plan. The immigrants from Birlad and surrounding districts did not agree so they rose and separated from the group, returned to Haifa and joined the families from Galatz, that had previously separated from the convoy. In the end of it all, 25 families stayed to settle in Gei-Oni, and accepted the name Rosh Pina. Inside themselves they were rejoicing, but they were devoid of resources.

The settlers then decided to sell part of the land that was within their territory, in order to reduce their debt and so they did. The sale was of one third of the area to a few immigrants from Russia and in this way they lessened the debt on the land by an amount of 9000 Francs. In possession of the Romanian immigrants, there remained an area of 2500 dunam of land suitable for ploughing. In addition there were pasture fields and gardens.

The settlers in Rosh Pina approached the building of houses. Shub began to prepare building materials, for instance, rocks and lime etc., a little while before the convoy arrived. In the fields that he had purchased there were two Arab houses in the vicinity of the Arab village Ja-Una. The village committee also decided to build more houses in close proximity to the existing houses. The plans that were already in the hands of the immigrants abroad, that advised the need to build tall and elaborate houses and paved streets like in big cities, were disregarded. Instead they built, according to the plans of a Jewish architect from Zefat, small homes crowded close together limiting the use of land. So they commenced to build 14 houses. A portion of the settlers left Zefat and settled in two of the Arab houses, the remainder stayed in Zefat and came daily to Rosh Pina to work. With completion of the building of a house, more families came to settle.

Interference in the progress of the building work came around the month of December. An ornate order came, forbidding entry of Jews into the Land of Israel, also to cease building in the village. The Turkish authorities in Zefat sent soldiers to Rosh Pina to delay the construction in the village. On the advice of their kinsfolk from Zefat, Moshe David Shub travelled to Damascus and with the assistance of knowledgeable people there presented himself with difficulty to the (Wali) district governor and he managed to get the order rescinded. Shub had explained his request with the argument that the immigrants were Jews from Romania, who were previously under the rule of the Sultan and they understood that they were citizens of Turkey. He received the permit. The governor in Zefat came to the village and brought with him the building inspector and he proposed to the settlers that all of them become officially naturalized. They received the necessary papers and building recommenced. The cost to the settlers of the disturbance in building work, in payment of debt, the business in Damascus and Zefat was not a small sum.

On 12 December 1882 (the second day of Tevet 5643) the settlers went to the fields to plough and sow. After the first day of work they gathered and arranged a modest but exciting celebration. There was much conversation and singing of songs and a cooperatively arranged meal. The second day of Tevet from then on became a holiday for generations to come.

Sir Laurence Oliphant described Rosh Pina on his visit in 1886:

Jauna, which was the name of the village to which I was bound, was situated about three miles from Safed, in a gorge, from which, as we descended it, a magnificent view was obtained over the Jordan valley, with the Lake of Tiberias lying three thousand feet below us on the right, and the waters of Merom, or the Lake of Huleh, on the left. The intervening plain was [a] rich expanse of country, only waiting development. The new colony [had] been established about eight months, the land having been purchased from the Moslem villagers, of whom twenty families remained, who lived on terms of perfect amity with the Jews. These consisted of twenty-three Roumanian and four Russian families, numbering in all one hundred and forty souls. The greater number were hard at work on their potato-patches when I arrived, and I was pleased to find evidences of thrift and industry. A row of sixteen neat little houses had been built, and more were in process or erection. Altogether this is the most hopeful attempt at a colony which I have seen in Palestine. The colonists own about a thousand acres of excellent land, which they were able to purchase at from three to four dollars an acre. The Russians are establishing themselves about half a mile from the Roumanians, as Jews of different nationalities easily get on well together. They call the colony Rosch Pina, or “Head of the Corner”, the word occurring in the verse, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the comer.”

— extract from: Laurence Oliphant, 1887, Haifa or Life in Modern Palestine, London: William Blackwood and Sons, page 71

David Bucshester’s seven children

David Bucshester had seven children:

four sons:
Moshe
Pesach Lev
Israel/Isadore
Zvi Yehuda
three daughters:
Sarah Leah
Rachel
Shulamit

Here are photos and information about some of them:

Moshe Bucshester and his family

Top row: Joseph (Yosef), David, Henya, Yaakov, Miriam
Bottom row: Ahuva, Esther, Mina, Zvi, Moshe, Pnina
Other versions of this photo: large | huge 2.5MB (printable at 10 x 8 inches)

Moshe was raised in Romania. His father was David and his mother Henya. He studied in the Rosh Pina school and by 1899 he was a farmer. He married Mina/Mintsi/Manche Hershkovitz. The farmer who grew up and educated in Rosh Pina and who excelled with a stout heart in overcoming his fear of terrorists and his heroic deeds enlarged the respect of all the other farmers. During the first world war he was the authorised plantation watchman. He died in 1955. His children were David, Yaakov, Joseph, Henya (the wife of Zion Levin from Metula) Miriam (Salomon), Pnina (Zilberman), Esther (Zilberman), Ahuva (Ben-Ami), Zvi.

Pesach Lev Bucshester

Pesach was born in Moineşti in 1880 and died 30 June 1915 at the young age of 35. He founded an organisation together with Mendel Grabovsky to protect Rosh Pina. He married Sarah Horowitz who was born in Holland and died in Rosh Pina in 1915. Their children were Chaya Hilda (Bloom), David, Pnina, Dvora (Rozenkevitz), and Yitzhak. David married Esther Sarfati and they had seven children: Aryeh, Vladimir Benjamin, Yaacov, Nissim, Hymie Jaime, Hirsch and Sara. Aryeh‘s son Hirsch Boucchechter wrote:

My grandfather David who was born in Rosh Pina left Israel (Palestine) in 1914 for Brazil, South America in order to escape serving the Turks. From Brazil they went to Colombia and then Venezuela, where they lived the rest of their lives. I spent 1980-1987 in Israel. I returned to Caracas, Venezuela for 7 years then moved to Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Shulamit Bucshester and her family

Zvi Hersch Yehuda Bucshester

The school in Rosh Pina

The school in Rosh Pina was founded in 1899. Isaac Epstein was the Principal and Hilda Bucshester was a teacher.

From the memoirs (1882-1883) of David Moshe Shub

Contributed by: Dan Bucsescu, Architect, in 2006
145 Palisade Street, Suite 372, Dobbs Ferry, New York 10522
Tel: 914 674 4289
Web Site: www.bucsescu.com

“My name is Dan Bucsescu. My father, who passed away at the age of 91 [in April 2005], was David Bucsescu, born in Moineşti in 1913. He was a direct decendent of the branch of the family that stayed behind in Romania (one brother of the David Bucsester who settled Rosh Pina). We emigrated to the US in 1965. I have two sons, Marcel Bucsescu and Daniel Bucsescu. Their mother, Eva Margarita Johansson is from Sweden.”

From: Vata Noastra “Our Life” (Israeli Romanian language newspaper), Friday 8 September 1972

How Rosh Pina was founded:
from the memoirs (1882-1883) of David Moshe Shub the delegate of ‘Society of Colonization of Eretz Israel through Agricultural Work’

In the day of 19 Kislev, the year Tav Reis Mem Bet (11 December 1881) I left the village of Moinesti. All the inhabitants of the village saw me off and wished me success. When I started my journey my wife was pregnant in the ninth month. Four days later I received in Galati, a telegram announcing that my wife gave birth to a girl. My only son, David, was two years old at the time. ‘Society of Colonization of Eretz Israel through Agricultural Work’ gave me part of the money for the trip, and the rest I paid out of my own pocket. I started from Istanbul towards Beirut with a Russian boat full of Russians and Turkish soldiers. The sanitary conditions on the ship were below any acceptable standards. We were only two Jews: myself and an old man who was returning to Tsefat. The trip from Istanbul to Beirut lasted two weeks; Friday 22 Tevet, or 13 January 1882, I arrived in Beirut. There I stayed at the roadside rooming house owned by Betzalel Barsah. On Monday of the following week the old man and myself rented two donkeys led by two Arabs (‘metuali’) to guide us on the road to Tsefat. On the first day we arrived in Sidon, where we spent the night. When we crossed the river Kasmia, the old man pointed with his hand and told me that that was the boundary of the Holy Land. I don’t have the words to describe my emotions. I got off the donkey and kneeled and kissed the ground and recited the prayer ‘Sheehianu’. I couldn‘t pull myself from the ground if it were not for the Arab guide who forced me up to continue moving on.

In the old Tsefat of yesterday

In Tsefat of that time there was not one public accommodation for the traveller (no hotel). There were not even roads. Horse wagons were a rare sight. Those [Jews] who came to live here (or better said - to die here and be buried here - because at Tsefat only the old came) had first gone to Beirut or Haifa, and from there they were taken on the backs of mules to Tsefat. This trip took two days from Haifa or four days from Beirut. They arrived there tired to the bone, hardly able to move. The Arab (travel facilitators) took them to an empty terrain in the middle of the town named “the Square with coals”, which was in fact a large heap of garbage.

On that site, daily, arrived a local official to collect a tax from everyone newly arrived. Why this tax? For whom? Here are some of the questions no one was allowed to ask and the poor arrivals were forced to pay. After that they stayed there until someone who knew them came to take them. I was the first to revolt against this inhuman deed and refused to pay the tax. Slowly, slowly the situation improved.

The Delegation of the coordination committee from Galati

During the time when I was searching around Eretz Israel in search of land for an agricultural settlement, in Romania there were formed several societies for resettlement based on the letters received from me. The center was in Galati. There was general meeting of the representatives of all such groups. At this meeting it was decided to form a committee that would travel to Eretz Israel to consult with me as to the next steps. Four delegates were selected. From Moinesti, David Bucshester, a man who possessed considerable knowledge about agriculture. The other delegates were Alter Klapper from Galati, a capable businessman; Shlomo Brill, farmer; and Avram Ezra Friedman who spoke Arabic and being born in Tsefat knew the local culture and traditions.

The delegates arrived three days before Pesach/Passover on April 1, 1882 having travelled through Haifa and Tiberias/Tveria. When I saw them I lost my courage. While myself and my companion Tipris were dressed in Arabic clothes and travelled on donkeys and conducted all our transactions discreetly they arrived on horses in the manner of English and American tourists brought by the travel agency Cooks. Because of this, they could have triggered suspicions among the Arabs in the various villages that we were rich American Jewish millionaires who could be milked for more money. I told them immediately that by their ways of behavior they were damaging our dreams. And, what I was afraid of happened, since they returned back to Romania without any doing anything. Once back in Romania they described the country in dark colors.

The Romanian delegation returned home after Lag B’Omer and myself together with my friend Bucshester went to Jerusalem to look at other land in Judah. From Tsefat to Jerusalem we travelled on the backs of donkeys - through Tiberias/Tveria, Jenin and Shechem. After four days we arrived in Jerusalem. Reb Dov Frumkin, the editor of the newspaper ‘Hehavateler’ gave us advice regarding the acquisition of land for agricultural settlement.

The purchase of land at Rosh Pina

The village of Ja Una is situated below a mountain named Har Canaan, about an hour’s walking distance from Tfat [Zefat/Safed]. There were three springs, from which the Arabs were irrigating their gardens and orchards. I found that place suitable for us. The land we bought was partly hilly, partly flat land, at an altitude of 350 Meters above the Mediterranean sea. The air was dry and clean. The north wind brought a gentle cool breeze from Mount Hermon. That why I loved that place immediately and was sorry to have to leave it. It is true that there were no direct access roads with the center of the country. But I thought that with time that would change.

On 24 July 1882, I bought two thirds of the village lands. The other third was bought by several Russian families that had just arrived. On the same day I sent a telegram to the society in Moinesti informing them about the just completed transaction. The news traveled like lightning throughout Romania. People from around the country came to Moinesti asking to buy a parcel of land; even the group from Galati, which had returned from their trip empty handed, asked us for land sufficient to accommodate 20 families that they were planning to send to Eretz Israel. Among others were families from Birlad led by Rabbi Mordecai Carmiel and others.

To Israel via Paris

There was a saying at the time: “to Eretz Israel via Moinesti”. Nevertheless, Jehoshua Sin Leih, who changed his name to Jehoshua Ben Arie, arrived in Israel via Paris. He was not allowed to debark in Palestine and his ship took him to Constantinopol. There he encounters a family of Jewish refugees and joins them on their travel to Paris, with the thought of soliciting Baron Rothschild for support to enter Palestine.

After many adventures including a journey on foot from Marseilles to Paris, the young man arrives at the mansion of Baron Rothschild, where a tall gentleman asks him what he wants:

— I came to get your help in going to Palestine.

— And if we don’t want to help you?

— If you don’t want to help me, I will get there on my own means.

The answer pleased the aging gentlemen who turned out to be no other than Sir Michael Orlanger, the Baron’s right hand [man] in charge [of] philanthropic work in Palestine. With the support of the Baron, Jehoshua arrives in 1884 in Jaffo, with a letter of introduction that would allow him to claim a place to live in any of the Baron’s properties in Palestine. After visiting all such settlements, he chooses to stay in Rosh Pina.

How we became Ottoman Citizens

I travelled on business together with two other Jews. We travelled North, though the Hula Swamps until the village Banias, the where starts the river Jordan. Having arrived in Damascus I went together with Rabbi Markado Alkalay, to visit the ‘Wali’ (the governor of the region). We explained what was the settlement of Rosh Pina which we founded and told him that we were emigrants from Romania and that we consider ourselves Turkish citizens, willing to live under the blessing of his majesty, the sultan. We told him we bought the land with our money and wanted to live honestly out of our work of the land. The chief Rabbi (Haham Bashi) supported our request and explained all to the Wali.

After a few days, the Wali told us that he sent a favourable recommendation to Istanbul and to be patient until we receive the answer. We waited six weeks without an answer. When we returned to Tsefat [Safed] we found out that the approval had come directly there and that we could continue the building of houses.

Upon our return to Rosh Pina, the mayor of Tsefat gathered together all the Jewish inhabitants of Rosh Pina and told them that they had received permission to build and that it would be to their benefit if they became Ottoman citizens. We all took his advice and became Ottoman citizens.

The mayor than gathered all the Arabs from the neighbouring village, said a few good words about the Jewish new comers from Romania and advised us all to live in peace and friendship.

Nevertheless, during construction tensions arose between the Arabs and the Jews due to discovery of some graves uncovered by the escalations. At the end the mayor decided that the remains be exhumed and relocated in another place and the construction could continue. It was understood that this was associated with a considerable amount of money given to the villagers.

— Dov M. Schub