The great majority of Romanian Jews are over the age of 70. Fewer than 1,000 are under the age of 25. Six thousand Jews live in Bucharest, and small Jewish communities exist in the principal towns of Moldavia-Iasi (Jassy), Dorahoi, Succeava, Radauti-and in Transylvania (Cluj, Arad, Timisoara, Satu Mare, Tigu Mures, Oradea), as well as in Constanta on the Black Sea coast.
Only after World War I was legislation enacted to emancipate Romanian Jewry. Jews served as traditional scapegoats in the struggle between the ruling classes and the peasantry. Despite their unfavorable situation, Jews played an important role in the transformation of Romania from a feudal system into a modern economy and were also active in the country’s cultural life. Romania was the birthplace of the Yiddish theater. It also produced many of the first chalutzim (pioneers) who settled in the Land of Israel. Rosh Pina and Zikhron Ya’akov, two of the oldest villages, were established by Romanian Jews.
In the second half of the 1930s, and with the rise of fascism, the situation of the Jews became increasingly desperate. In 1938 there were about 800,000 Jews in the country. On the eve of the Shoah, Romania was deprived of northern Transylvania, northern Bukovina, Bessarabia, and southern Dobruja. Of the Jews who remained under Romanian jurisdiction, about 265,000 (43%) were murdered, many by the Romanian army and the Fascist Iron Guard. The Jews in northern Transylvania, which was under Hungarian rule, fared even worse. Some 150,000 of them were, with Hungarian collusion, deported to Auschwitz or killed by local Fascists. About 400,000 Romanian Jews survived the war.
Between 1948 and 1988 about 300,000 Jews left the country. The majority moved to Israel, where they today comprise one of the largest ethnic communities. With the advent of Communist rule, all Zionist activity was prohibited, and the sole representative Jewish organization was the Federation of Jewish Communities under the direction of the late Chief Rabbi Dr. Moses Rosen. Under Rabbi Rosen’s leadership, Romania was an anomaly in eastern Europe. Religious and cultural life was active, and the great majority of Jewish youth received a Jewish education.
The Federation of Jewish Communities represents Romanian Jewry. The communal framework which existed under Communist rule has been preserved, but the office of the president of the community and of the chief rabbi have been separated. Increasingly the community is geared toward meeting the needs of its aging population-most of whom have children or grandchildren living abroad.
Religious and Cultural Life
Despite the dwindling number of Jews, synagogues and a religious infrastructure are maintained in many localities. The number of operating synagogues in the provinces is in constant decline. There are kosher cafeterias in some 10 cities. Virtually all Jewish children receive at least the rudiments of a Jewish education in the community’s Talmud Torah schools. There are three rabbis in Romania.
Romania and Israel have had uninterrupted diplomatic relations since 1948. Aliya : Since 1948, 273,825 Romanian Jews have emigrated to Israel, 117,950 of them between 1948 and 1951. .
Romania is one of the few countries in eastern Europe in which remnants of shtetl life can still be observed (primarily in towns, such as Radauti and Dorohoi in Moldavia). In Iasi there is an imposing monument in the Jewish cemetery to the 10,000 Jews massacred there in 1941. Some of the cities have impressive synagogues, notably the Choral Temple in Bucharest.
Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania
Federatia Comunitatii Evreiesti din Romania
PRESIDENT : Aurel VAINER
Vineri 9-11, Sector 3
Tel : 40 1 613 2538
Fax : 40 1 312 0869
Email : email@example.com
Dr. Burghelea 5
Tel : 40 1 311 3465
Fax : 40 1 120 431