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The Jewish Community of Gaesti 

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.

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
20659552
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

Pitești    

A city in the Argeș County in the historical region of Muntenia (Wallachia), Romania.

The first Jews arrived in the first half of the 19th century, few in number; in 1831, there were only 28 Jews in the city. The growth of the Jewish population began in the second half of the 19th century, and in 1899, the Jews numbered 875 souls (55.6% of the total population).

The community institutions included a synagogue. In 1876, there were two elementary schools, one for boys, one for girls. Community relations were not amicable and some internal difference brought about the closing of the schools in 1883, in spite of the fact that in that year there were 150 pupils enrolled. In 1889, the boys' school was reopened; 100 pupils were enrolled, and, in 1922, they moved to a new building.

Differences within the community continued. In 1896, the meat tax was abolished.  The community budget was tightened and was based mainly on contributions and on income from the synagogue. Camps based on different opinions arose and harsh confrontations necessitated police intervention.

Emigration by foot - fusgeyer in Yiddish - a mass movement within Romanian Jewry brought on by anti-Semitism and a harsh economic climate - had supporters also in Pitesti. The marchers wanted to reach ports in Western Europe to travel onward to the United States. In 1900, forty Jews from Pitesti joined the emigrants and the community supported them and organized a fund to help them out.

From the start of the Jews' settlement in Pitesti, their main source of income was trade. The city was surrounded by vineyards and among the Jewish merchants, there was a wine wholesaler. There were also wholesalers in textiles. Crafts was the second source of income. In 1908, there were 62 Jewish craftsmen (40% of all the craftsmen in the city).

Zionist activity began at the end of the 19th century. A branch of Hibbat Zion was established in 1896. Three years later, 75 women organized Bnot Zion, a Zionist women association. Their activity included lessons in the history of Israel, and support for the needy was their social action.

In 1930, 615 Jews lived in the city (3.1% of the population) and, in 1941, the year Romania joined in WWII, their numbers decreased to 423 (1.6% of the total).

 

The Holocaust

In September, 1940, General Ion Antonescu rose to power in Romania and he appointed members of his government from the ranks of the the Iron Guard - a nationalistic party espousing violent anti-Semitism.  Local members of the party began terror tactics. A Jew was thrown from a train and killed. Jewish wine cellars were confiscated; Iron Guard militiamen prevented Christians from entering Jewish stores; Jewish accountants were fired. Jews were caught and sent to forced labor in the city and outside. One unit was sent to Transnistria, a Romanian captured territory in the Ukraine between the Dniester and the Bug rivers, to which almost 150,000 Jews from Romania were deported.

Twenty Jews expelled from the town of Gaesti and from Ploiesti, the center of the oil industry, reached Pitesti. The community also absorbed refugees from Poland and Czernowitz in northern Bukovina. The community supported refugees, families of forced labor workers and Jews from the city whose economic situation worsened and a large part of whom were left with no livelihood. From among 60 craftsmen and workers, only 16 worked, and so it was in other professions as well.  The community set up a soup kitchen which fed 60 to 70 people every day.

In the first few years after the liberation, the Jews continued to live in the city and, in 1947, there were 450 Jews there. After the Communist takeover in Romania in 1948, the prison in the city also held Zionist activists who were persecuted and arrested all over Romania for their activities in encouraging immigration to Israel in the 1950s.

At the start of the 21st century, the local Jewish community numbered 58 people, 29 of whom were 60 years old or more.

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.  

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.