Bucharest

Jewish Bucharest

27 Sep 2017

Pogroms, the Holocaust and emigration have reduced Bucharest's once 70,000-strong Jewish population to around 3,500 today. Nevertheless, the Jewish community in the Romanian capital is vibrant and dynamic, and has an excellent cultural centre, three working synagogues, a school and a superb theatre.

A Brief History of Jews in Romania

The story of the Jews in Romania is not a happy one. Relatively small until the mid-19th century, the size of the Romanian Jewish community - predominantly urban - grew from the 1840s onwards as large numbers of Jews sought refuge in Moldavia and Wallachia from persecution in Tsarist Russia, and by the mid-1860s there were more than 150,000 Jews nationwide. Alas the Jews fared little better - initially - in Romanian lands than they had in Russia, with strict laws enacted preventing them from wearing traditional dress, sending their children to school and even becoming Romanian citizens. There were frequent attacks on Jews and their property (particularly in Iasi) while there was a major anti-Jewish riot in Bucharest in 1866, when large numbers of Jews were beaten and the Choral Temple (rebuilt soon afterwards) desecrated and destroyed.

There was another wave of Jewish immigration in 1903-5 following the Chisinau Pogrom of April 1903 (Chisinau was at the time part of the Russian Empire), and while the plight of the Jews improved considerably as their numbers and political influence grew, it was only in the aftermath of World War I that Romanian Jews were awarded full civil rights, later guaranteed in the 1923 Romanian Constitution. It was during the 1920s that the number of Jews living in Romania reached its peak (at around 730,000), around a third of whom lived in Bessarabia (today the Republic of Moldova). Bucharest’s Jewish population peaked at around 70,000 in 1930: as much as ten per cent of the city’s population.

Romania was not, however, immune to the anti-Semitism of 1930s Europe, and the rise in popularity of the fascist scum Legionnaire Movement and its horrific paramilitary wing, the Iron Guard, can in part be explained by its violently anti-Semitic policies. By the time the Iron Guard joined the government of military leader Ion Antonescu and formed its Legionary State in September 1940, much anti-Semitic legislation had already been passed, and the Legionnaires were allowed to persecute Jews with impunity.

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22.02.2017
John Berwirk
Romania
Romania was second only to Germany in its antisemitism in the 1930s and its violence against Jews during WWII. If you want to inform yourself, I suggest starting with the following literature: Mihail Sebastian: Journal 1935-44 Jean Ancel: The History of the Holocaust in Romania Radu Ioanid: The Holocaust in Romania Wilhelm Fildermann: Memoirs and Diaries (Vol 1) 1900-1940 Romanian society is generally in denial about this appalling chapter of its history.
18.01.2017
Julia Brystiger

Hanna Arendt called Romania "the most anti-Semitic country in pre-war Europe". Full stop.
18.01.2017
Salomon Morel

1. "Alas the Jews fared little better - initially - in Romanian lands than they had in Russia," Why did they come to the Romanian Principalities then? Why didn't they go to the USA, the Americas or even Palestine? Or even better to the mighty and welcoming (but see the anti-Jewish race riots)United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. 2. "There were frequent attacks on Jews and their property (particularly in Iasi) while there was a major anti-Jewish riot in Bucharest in 1866, when large numbers of Jews were beaten and the Choral Temple (rebuilt soon afterwards) desecrated and destroyed." Could you provide a reference to it? Thanks.
06.11.2016
Mikki
Antibes
What you say is not true. Many many Jews were killed in Romania.
Over a year ago
Mandru Roman

you are the scum American sir. the legionaires were patriotic christians who loved their fellow man and the wiesel report was written by a jew and is not objective it is all lies. there was never any killing of the jews in Romania you know nothing and you should be arrested for writing these calomnies against my country
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