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The Jewish Community of Campina

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.

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
148196
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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The Jewish Community of Campina

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.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People