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The Jewish Community of Moreni

Moreni

A town in Dâmbovița County in the historical region of Muntenia, Romania.

At the beginning, Moreni was a small village. Because of its location near an area of oil wells, 30 km from Ploiești, in it's time the center of Romania's oil reserves, it joined in the development of the oil industry in the area, and at the start of the 20th century the small village turned into a town in which the oil industry was a source of income for a portion of its residents.

The beginning of Jewish settlement in Moreni is connected to this development.

The first Jews arrived as officials or experts to help the development of the oil industry. Initially, they lived outside the settlement, and only with its development did they live there consistently, among them merchants and craftsmen. Nevertheless, an independent community did not develop, and the local Jews received religious services from Ploiești, with which they affiliated. They prayed within their community only on the High Holydays, in a private apartment, which served as a synagogue for this purpose. Their relationships with their Christian neighbors were good, and it was only with the change in the Romanian police, after the outbreak of World War II, that Jews encountered anti-Semitic incidents.

In 1936, the number of Jews reached 156 individuals. They constituted 3.2% of the general population.

The Holocaust

In September, 1940, there was a change of government in Romania. At the head of government stood General Ion Antonescu, who became a dictator. He assembled his government from members of the Iron Guard, an anti-Semitic party, parallel to the Nazi party in Germany, and Romania joined the Axis powers led by Germany. This was the opportunity for the members of the Iron Guard in the town to attack the local Jews. This began by plundering the property of Jews in their homes, and the confiscation of all their non-mobile possessions. Jewish government officials were fired.

After a month, in November, 1940, all local Jews were deported. Most went to Bucharest, and so ended the Jewish settlement in Moreni. After the war, not a single Jew returned to the town.

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
115657
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Romania

România

A country in eastern Europe, member of the European Union (EU)

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 9,000 out of 19,500,000.  Before the Holocaust Romania was home to the second largest Jewish community in Europe, and the fourth largest in the world, after USSR, USA, and Poland. Main Jewish organization:

Federaţia Comunităţilor Evreieşti Din România - Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania
Str. Sf. Vineri nr. 9-11 sector 3, Bucuresti, Romania
Phone: 021-315.50.90
Fax: 021-313.10.28
Email: secretariat@fcer.ro
Website: www.jewishfed.ro

Târgoviște

Alternative spelling: Tîrgovişte

City and capital of the county Dambovita, in the historical region of Muntenia, Romania. Between the years 1385 and 1559, the city was the capital of the principality.

The first testimonies about the presence of Jews in Târgoviște are listed in a travelogue from the middle of the 17th century and on matzevot from the year 1812 that were found in the ancient cemetery. At the beginning of the 19th century, Jews settled in the town, escaping from a plague in the neighboring city of Ploiești.

The threat of expulsion threatened them in 1821, during the rebellion of the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire. The Greeks, residents of Romanian principalities, joined together in rebellion, and on their way to the Ottoman Empire they rioted against the Jews. The Jews in Targoviste were accused of helping the Turks, and it was only with the arrival of the Turkish forces that the fear of expulsion was removed.

According to data from 1882, most of the Jews were craftsmen, and only a few were merchants This situation changed at the beginning of the 20th century, when commerce became the source of income for most Jews in the city.

The first cemetery was established at the beginning of the 19th century, when a plague prevented the transfer of the deceased to Ploiești. But its fencing off was not done until an area was acquired for a new cemetery in the middle of the 19th century. During the 19th century, internal disputes prevented the formation of community institutions, and with the lack of a burial society, families were forced to take care of their burial arrangements.

On 1882, two classes opened in a grassroots school in which they taught Hebrew and Romanian.

Only at the end of the 19th century did the community become organized, thanks to Rabbi Chaim Shor, who especially came to Targoviște from Bucharest in 1900 and ended the disputes. The synagogue was built between 1905 and 1912, in the national Romanian architectural style that was typical at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

During World War I, a Jew from Targoviște by the name Herman Kornhauser paid his loyalty to Romania with his life. Because of the help he gave the Romanian war prisoners to escape from captivity, he was arrested by the German Army that controlled the city in December 1916, and sentenced to death. He was taken out to the market square of the city to be hanged in March, 1917. He was 37 years old when he died.

On the eve of World War II, there was a school and a synagogue in Targoviște, supported by the community.

In the population census of 1930, there were 551 Jews listed in the city of Targoviște, who constituted 2.2% of the total residents.

 

The Holocaust

With the rise to power of the Goga-Cuza government in December, 1937, anti-Semitism became legal and was official policy in Romania.

In September, 1940, a government was established in Romania led by General Ion Antonescu. This government included the Iron Guard party, a nationalistic party that advocated violent anti-Semitism. The government of Ion Antonescu changed the foreign policy of Romania and joined the alliance between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. This government increased the persecution of Jews and the reign of terror against them.

The rise of extremist agents in the control of the city became evident with regard to the Jews. In

November, 1940, a local council began to count the supplies in Jewish stores, and on December 5th, the Jewish merchants were forced to "sell" their possessions (merchandise and homes) in exchange for 10 to 20 percent of their value. The signatures of the merchants were obtained through painful torture. A protest by a union of communities from Bucharest angered those responsible for the robbery, and they forced the Jews to do street cleaning, and prohibited them from leaving the city. Nevertheless, about 75% of the Jews escaped from the city during the war and never returned.

A detention camp was set up in the village of Iasi, next to Targoviște. Jewish men were held there, aged 16 to 60, from the cities of Ploiești, Campina, and Sinaia.

In the beginning of the 2000s, there were less than ten Jews in Targoviște. The synagogue is at 37 Grigore Alexandrescu Street. The synagogue building was renovated in 2010, and serves as a concert hall for a music school.

The cemetery is at 30 Strada Zorilor, in the suburb Matei Voevod.

Ploiesti

Also: Ploesti

A city in in Muntenia (Walachia), south central Romania.

The first Jews settled in Ploiesti in the second half of the 17th century. There were so few, however, that they continued to bury their dead at the cemetery at Buzau.

At the end of the same century they purchased ground for a cemetery, far from the city, where tombstones have been found dating back to 1719-40. A second cemetery was confiscated by a landowner to enlarge his estate. A third, established on ground acquired in 1818 by the Jews' guild, was also closed, being too near the city. Consequently, a fourth cemetery was established outside the city. In the early 18th century the synagogue was demolished by order of the ruler, and the Jews had to move two kilometers out of the city. However, their commercial importance was so valued that the cattle market and general market of the city were established in their neighborhood.

The road linking the Jewish quarter with the city became known as the Jews' Street till 1882. At the beginning of the 19th century, Sephardi Jews migrated to Ploiesti from the Balkan states; their neighborhood was called the Spanish Street. in 1830 the Sephardim requested the Chakham Bashi (title of chief rabbi in the Ottoman Empire) to approve the establishment of their own community, but the request was refused. Thus Ploiesti became the only Romanian locality whose kahal (local governing body of a former European Jewish community) combined Ashkenazim and Sephardim in communal activities (although distinctions persisted in regard to separate synagogues and chevra kaddisha). From 280 Jews listed as taxpayers in 1831, the number reached 2,478 in 1899 (5.5% of the total population) and 3,843 (3.3%) in 1930. Five synagogues were eventually established, including one for artisans and another for sephardim. The boys' school, built in 1875, was named after Luca Moise who granted funds for its building and maintenance. A girls' school was built in 1896. Among noted rabbis who served Ploiesti were those of the Brezis family, Judah Aryeh Brezis (1869-1908) and Dr. Joseph Chayyim Brezis (1911-1922). Menahem Safran officiated as rabbi from 1939 to 1956. Rabbi David Friedman, a chasidic tzaddik of the Ruzhin dynasty, lived in Ploiesti until his murder by the Iron Guard in 1940.

The Jews did much to develop the city by organizing the export of agricultural produce, leather, and other goods to Hungary and on to Vienna. From the middle of the 19th century many dealt in oil, developing Ploiesti into a center for that commodity. After the emancipation of the Jews in Romania, Jews officiated as representatives on the city council and for a time a Jew served as vice-mayor.

Immediately after the outbreak of World War II, Ploiesti became a center of German interest because of its oil resources. Units of the German army appeared in the city as early as the autumn of 1940. After Antonescu assumed power (September 1940), Cojocaru, a member of the Iron Guard, was appointed commander of the local police. Immediately upon taking over the post he introduced serious measures against the Jews, i.e., confiscation of their businesses and wide-scale arrests of merchants and community leaders. On the night of November 27/28, 1940, 11 of the Jewish prisoners were executed in a nearby forest. Among those killed was Rabbi David Friedman. During the same period members of the Iron Guard destroyed three synagogues and the Luca Moise school; they burned the torah scroll taken from the synagogues and transferred the furniture to churches, while the school equipment was taken to Romanian educational institutions.

A number of Jews were sent to the Tirgu-Jiu concentration camp. After the outbreak of war with the USSR (June 1941), all the Jewish men from ages 18 to 60 were arrested and sent to the Teis concentration camp. Youth from the ages of 13 to 18 remained in Ploiesti and were mobilized into different forms of forced labor. In January 1942 men over the age of 50 were released from Teis and returned to the city. The rest were scattered throughout various cities in Romania but were forbidden to leave their new locations.

Later on they were sent to do forced labor in various places in Bessarabia and Moldavia. After the war, practically all of Ploiesti's Jews returned to the city.

In 1947 the Jewish population numbered about 3,000, decreasing to 2,000 in 1950. By 1969 about 120 Jewish families remained. They had one synagogue.

The synagogue of Ploiesti, built in 1901, was reopened in 2017 following a extensive renovations executed with the help of an American sponsor, who was born in Ploiesti. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Chief Rabbi Menahem Hacahen and Rabbi Slomo Sorin Rosen, Aurel Vainer, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania, as well as presidents of the Jewish communities of Brasov, Piatra Neamt and Focsani as well as the mayor of Ploiesti.  That year there were less than 100 Jews living in Ploiesti.  

Campina

A city in Prahova County in the historical region of Muntenia, Romania.

The area of Prahova where the city sits is rich in oil, it's production having begun in the late 19th century. The central city in the area, Ploiești, is located 36 kilometers southeast of Campina.

The beginning of Jewish settlement coincided with the oil drilling, and at the end of the 19th century (1899), there were 261 Jews living in the city, increasing to 412 in 1910. A large refinery was built in the middle of the city, and among the drilling experts invited to the city from other settlements were Jewish engineers.

The formation of the Jewish settlement necessitated the development of community institutions. In 1897, the community acquired an area of land for a cemetery, and in 1902 a synagogue was built. In the area of welfare, a group was formed to support the poor, but quite unusually, no needy people were found among the Jews. The group did not disband, but delivered assistance to the Christian poor. There was a community coeducational school operating locally, and in 1910 there were 63 students learning there. That same year, there were 37 Jewish students learning in the government school. Conflicts between the secular and the religious prevented the continued existence of the community school. The first person appointed as rabbi for the community was Rabbi Herschel Shechter, who filled the position until 1909.

Among the Jews employed in oil production, officials and engineers, there were some who lived in surrounding villages and towns, but belonged to the Campina community and received it's community services. Following the Law of Religions of 1929, that recognized the Jewish religion as a historical religion, in 1932 the community was recognized as a legal entity.

Besides the Jews connected to the oil production, there were, understandably, those who were employed in traditional Jewish professions, merchants and workers. According to data from 1910, the year in which the number of Jews reached its highest point (419), the division of Jews' sources of income was the following: 68 merchants, 18 craftsmen (11 tinsmiths, 5 tailors, 2 carpenters), and 28 different professionals.

There were Zionist activities in the city. Between the two World Wars, a Zionist group named after Nachum Sokolov was organized. Women active in WIZO (Women's International Zionist Organization) organized lessons in the Hebrew language. In 1930, there were 319 Jewish residents (1.5% of the general population), and in 1941, the year Romania entered World War II, the number decreased to 184 (0.8% of the general population).

The Holocaust

During World War II, anti-Semitic persecution did not advance, but there was anti-Semitic propaganda. The Culture League organization that was inspired by the anti-Semitic Romanian historian Nicholai Iorga established a branch in Campina that dealt with inciting anti-Semitism.

In September, 1940, General Ion Antonescu rose to power in Romania. He included in his government members of the Iron Guard, a nationalistic party that advocated for violent anti-Semitism. On June 22, 1941, Romania joined with Germany in an attack against the Soviet Union and entered World War II. After three weeks, on the 15th of July, the area rich in oil was bombed by the Soviet air force, including Campina. An immediate result was the deportation of the Jews in the city. In the first phase, only men were deported, but soon afterwards, women and children were also deported. At first, the men were sent to a concentration camp, and after several months were freed and allowed to go to cities of their choice, except for their home city of Campina or the capital city, Bucharest, or the central city in the area, Ploiești. A few days after the deportation of the men, the women and children were deported. Before they left, they had to pay their taxes for the year, and hand over to the police their apartments and stores with all of their contents. The women and children were deported to Ploiești. After they left, their apartments and stores were plundered, even though they had been handed over to the police.

After the surrender of Romania in 1944, most of the Jewish refugees returned to the city, and in 1947 there were 140 Jewish residents in Campina.

גאיישט

Găești 

עיירה במחוז דאמבוביצה, חבל מונטניה, רומניה.

היהודים הראשונים התיישבו במקום בסוף המאה ה-19. היחסים עם התושבים הרומנים היו טובים. מפנה לרעה חל בשנת 1912 לאחר שארגון לאומני שהפיץ כרוזים אנטישמיים והסית נגד היהודים את האיכרים שהגיעו לעיירה בימי היריד.

בזמן מלחמת העולם הראשונה העיירה נכבשה ע"י כוחות מעצמות המרכז שרומניה נלחמה נגדם. בזמן הכיבוש שימש כראש העיר מטעם הצבא האוסטרו-הונגרי סגן יוסף לזר, יהודי שנולד בעיר באיה מארה, אז חלק מאוסטריה-הונגריה, בשנת 1891.

הקהילה התארגנה ב-1915 וראש הקהילה כיהן כסגן ראש העיירה. על יסוד חוק הדתות מ- 1929, שהכיר בדת היהודית כדת היסטורית, הוכרה הקהילה רשמית ב-1932 כיישות משפטית. בית כנסת נוסד בשנת 1925 בבית פרטי שהיה בבעלות הקהילה. שטח בית הקברות נרכש ב- 1930. רב הקהילה מילא גם תפקידי שוחט ומלמד. היהודים עסקו במסחר ומעוטם במלאכה.

ההשפעה הציונית הגיעה לעיירה וב-1911 יצא לאור קובץ שירים ציונים ברומנית של תושבת העיירה.

פעילות ציונית מאורגנת הופיעה לראשונה בין שתי מלחמות העולם בשורות תנועת הנוער "השומר הצעיר" אשר ארגנה גם ספריה.

העליה לשלטון של ממשלת גוגה-קוזה בדצמבר 1937 הובילה לחקיקה ויישום של מדיניות אנטישמית רשמית ברומניה. בעקבות שינוי מדיניות זה, התרבו הגילויים האנטישמיים ושמות החללים היהודים נמחקו מאנדרטת  הזכרון לנופלים בימי מלחמת העולם הראשונה.

במפקד האוכלוסין של שנת 1930 נרשמו במקום 137 יהודים שהיוו 2.5%  מכלל התושבים.

 

תקופת השואה

בספטמבר 1940 הוקמה ברומניה ממשלה בראשותו של הגנרל יון אנטונסקו. ממשלה זאת כללה את מפלגת "משמר הברזל" - מפלגה לאומנית שדגלה באנטישמיות אלימה. הממשלה של יון אנטונסקו שינתה את מדיניות החוץ של רומניה וצירפה את המדינה אל הברית בין גרמניה הנאצית ואיטליה הפשיסטית. הממשלה הזאת הגבירה את רדיפת היהודים והנהגה משטר של טרור נגדם.

מנהיגי המפלגה הפאשיסטית "משמר הברזל" במקום תבעו מהיהודים להפסיק את כל עסקיהם עם הנוצרים. בנובמבר 1940 הוחרמו בכח כל סחורות היהודים ורק מעטים הצליחו, תמורת שוחד רב, להציל חלק מרכושם. בעלי הבתים אולצו בלחץ איומים ועינויים ל"מכור" את נכסיהם. יהודי אחד ניסה, על ידי בריחה לבוקרסט, עיר הבירה, להציל את רכושו. כדי לגלות את מקום מחבואו נאסרו כל יהודי העיירה ובראשם הרב. היהודי הנמלט חזר בו ונכנע לכל תביעות אויביו. אחרי שחרורו, מת הרב בעקבות העינויים.

כיום אין יהודים בגאישט. בית הקברות היהודי, אשר הוקם במאה ה-19, נמצא ברח' קאמפולוי מס' 35. ככל הידוע המצבה העתיקה ביותר היא משנת 1916 והאחרונה משנת 1960.