LEOVO (Rum. Leova), town in S.W. Moldova, in the region of Bessarabia. There were 25 Jewish families living in Leovo in 1817. The community grew as a result of the large Jewish immigration into Bessarabia in the 19th century and numbered 2,773 persons (57% of the total population) in 1897. The Jews there were subject to the legislation restricting Jewish residence in the border zone. The ẓaddik Dov Baer, the son of Israel (Friedmann) of *Ruzhyn, whose defection from Ḥasidism to the maskilim caused a furor, lived in Leovo in the 1860s. The writers Judah *Steinberg and Jacob *Fichmann taught there. Among the 434 members registered in the Jewish loan fund in 1925, there were 84 farmers, 102 craftsmen, and 163 businessmen. There were 2,326 Jews living in Leovo (35% of the total population) in 1930. The community then maintained a kindergarten and a school, both belonging to the *Tarbut network.
During the Romanian evacuation of Leovo in June 1940, the Jewish population, numbering some 600 families, was unharmed. In July 1940, a month after the annexation of Bessarabia by the Soviet Union, all Zionist leaders and wealthy Jews were exiled to Siberia and their property confiscated. When war broke out between Germany and the Soviet Union in June 1941, Leovo was in the battle zone. Most of the population tried to escape with the help of the Russians, but the majority of the Jews who managed to leave the town were murdered by Romanian soldiers and gendarmes in the neighboring villages and towns. A few who succeeded in reaching Odessa and the Caucasian Mountains were murdered by the Germans when they reached these areas. Those Jews who stayed in Leovo were all murdered by Romanian troops. Some of the Jews who were caught on the roads were exiled to *Transnistria, from which only a few returned. Only 30 Jews returned to Leovo after the war.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.