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Felicia Antip

Felicia Antip (born Solomon) (1927-2013), writer and publicist, born in Focsani, Romania.  She attended high school in Focsani and in Bucharest, and then graduated in philosophy from the University of Iasi. She was an editor for Agerpress – the Romanian National Press Agency from 1950 to 1963, and then for Lumea – a Romanian monthly international politics magazine, between 1963-1971. She continued her journalistic activity at the Romanian Broadcasting Corporation and at Tribuna României magazin. During the 190s she contributed chronicles of foreign literature for Romania literară – a Romanian cultural and literary magazine, and for Adevărul literar si artistic – a cultural supplement of a Romanian daily.

Antip is the author of the memorial volume Lumea din ziare (“The world of newspapers”, 1997) and of Aventuri ale conștiinței de sine: scriitori evrei faţă-n faţă cu destinul lor (“Adventures of self-awareness: Jewish writers face their destiny”, 2006) that deals with the identity problem of some Jewish writers. Her translations include works by Paul Auster and Elie Wiesel.

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Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name is a patronymic surname based on a male ancestor's personal name, in this case of biblical origin.

Solomon is a form of the Hebrew Shlomo, meaning "man of peace", a biblical personal name whose root is Shalom, meaning "peace". Solomon, the son of King David and Bath Sheba, was the third king of Israel and Judah. Many Jewish family names have developed from Shlomo/Solomon/Salomon and its variants. Solomon is documented in the 7th century in France; Salman in 1090 in Germany; Salemanus in 1200, also in Germany; Salmon (1290), Saulmon (1306), Salmannus (1334) and Salamon (1388) in France; Scholem in 1495 in Germany; Sollomon in 1668 in America; Salom in 1713 in the Antilles; Salmonaba in 1715 in Italy; Schlam in 1717 in Germany; Salme, Schlomen, Schlumen, Scholum and Schaulom in 1784 in Alsace; Salimen in 1798 in America; Salem in the 18th century in the Netherlands; Salmang in 1831 in Germany; and Salomson in 1855 in America. In the mid 20th century, Solomon families in France changed their names to Aumond and Laumont, and the Polish variant Solomonowicz (meaning "Solomon's son") was Frenchified to Alamont.

Arabic forms of Solomon include Sellam, Saloma, Calama and Suleyman. Variants like Salaman, Salmen, Zalman, Zalkind, Zalkin, Zalheim, Zaling, Zalinger, Salinger and Zeling became frequent in Central and Eastern European countries.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Solomon include the English-born sheriff of St. Helena and consul of France and the Netherlands, Saul Solomon (1775-1850); the 19th/20th century Lithuanian-born American rabbi Elias Louis Solomon; the 20th century Indian community leader David Solomon and the 20th century Romanian poet and translator Petre Solomon.


Romanian: Focşani; German: Fokschan; Hungarian: Foksány; Polish: Fokszany

A city and capital of Vrancea County in Moldavia, Romania.

21st Century

The beautifully decorated Focsani synagogue, the Ahai Vereai synagogue was built in 1827 and renovated in 1896.

Focsani has an old and new Jewish cemetery. The old cemetery was in use until 1874. In 2014 it was in a neglected condition. The new cemetery is located on the way to a small forest. Many gravestones are damaged due to earthquakes. Some inscriptions on the gravestones are in German and Hebrew. A greater part is from the 1800s, Jewish WWI burials exist and a monument for Holocaust victims is set at the entrance of the cemetery. An earthquake in 1940 resulted in some casualties buried there.

By 1994, there were only 80 Jews in Focsani, in 2004 there were 70 and their number declined by 2016.



Jewish settlement in Focsani dates from the second half of the 17th century; there were 20 taxpaying families by 1820. The community numbered 736 in 1838, 1,855 in 1859 (19.2% of the total), and 5,954 (25.2%) in 1899.

Since this was a wine growing area many of the Jews were vintners. Focsani was a center of anti-Jewish hostility. The oath more judaico was introduced there for the first time in 1838. In 1859 there was a case of blood libel soon exposed as a crime committed for gain. The anti-semitic newspaper Paznicul was published in Focsani from 1900. The Romanians' Union, an association founded in 1910, proclaimed a boycott of the Jewish merchants. In March 1925 the trial was opened in Focsani of Corneliu Zelea-Codreanu, head of the Iron Guard, accused of murdering the chief of the police in Jassy. Anti-Semitic gangs took the opportunity to pillage 300 Jewish houses, among them the school and the great synagogue.

Focsani was a center of early Zionist activity, and the first conference the Focșani Conference of the Yishuv Eretz Israel movement took place there on January 11-12, 1882, with representatives from 32 localities. The Focsani Conference was held 16 years prior to the First Zionist Congress in Basel (1897). “Zionism was born … 135 years ago, in a provincial town in Romania”, so was written in an article on 11. January, 2018.

This was the first conference in history to handle the rights of the Jews to settle and build their ancestral home and resulted in two waves of immigration: in 1880 and 1890 inspired by a dream, however, also hardships in their homelands of origin. To a great extent unknown is what became to be the First Aliyah to Eretz Israel from scattered shtetls of Galicia, Carpathian Mountains and Odessa. Great Zionist enthusiasm was shown by the first olim BILU (Beit Yisrael Lechu U’nelcha). Unfortunately, they were faced with such hardships in their quest that many returned to their countries of origin.

These Romanian Jews took great inspiration from the Hovevei Zion movement which had a significant presence in Romania by 1881. These first immigrants pioneered the development of life and community building. Met with never foreseen hardships, these Jewish settlers learned to farm land, building their own knowledge to make “the dessert bloom”, a first step of the innovation nation.

At the 5th Zionist Congress (1901) the Jewish National Fund was established, giving these settlers great financial and spiritual support. Vladimir (Ze'ev) Dubnow, one of the first haluzim (pioneers) in 1882 said to his historian brother Simon Dubnov: “The Jews will yet arise…” and so they did. Rishon LeZion, Petach Tikva, Gedera, Zikhron Ya'akov, Rosh Pinna, Neve Tzedek and Neve Shalom, these were created as a result of the Focsani Conference. The Romanian olim of the time had a lasting impact on contemporary Eretz Israel with inspiring accomplishments in fields such as technology, medicine and culture.

Rabbis of Focsani include the Hebrew author Jacob Nacht (d. in Israel 1959), who officiated there from 1900 to 1919, and through whose influence Focsani became the center of Zionist cultural activity in Romania.

On the eve of World War II the community had eight synagogues, the oldest from the 18th century, two primary schools, a kindergarten, a medical dispensary, and three cemeteries.


The Holocaust

In 1941 there were 3,953 Jews living in Focsani out of a total population of approximately 37,000. At the beginning of the Antonescu regime, the Jewish merchants were forced to hand over their shops to the Iron Guard; those who refused were sent to concentration camps at Targu-Jiu and Caracal. Three of the synagogues were blown up by military engineers on the pretext that the earthquake of November 1940 had damaged their foundations making them dangerous constructions.

When the war with the Soviet Union broke out (June 1941), all Jewish males aged between 16 and 60 were imprisoned. A few weeks later they were released, except for 65 hostages including the rabbi and community leaders. Three months later the number of hostages was reduced to ten; each was held for a while and then relieved by other Jews. The number of Jews in Focsani increased considerably with the arrival of Jews who had been driven out of the villages and towns in the district, as well as Jews from Ploesti. They were cared for by the local community which also aided a group of 400 Jews from southern Transylvania who had been brought to the district on forced labor. A number of Jews from Focsani were also sent away on forced labor. In the spring of 1944, 210 Jewish orphans from Transnistria were brought to Focsani and put under the care of the local community. On May 12, 1944, the local military commander mobilized all male and female Jews aged between 15 and 55, to dig anti-tank ditches for the defense of the town against the approaching Soviet forces.



In the post-war period the Jewish population, which numbered 6,080 in 1947, decreased to 3,500 by 1950, as a result of emigration. By 1970 continued emigration had reduced the number further to about 150 families. One synagogue remained open.


Romanian: Bucuresti

Capital of Romania

The historic Jewish district of Bucharest used to be centered around the Choral Temple, and spread from Piata Unirii east towards Dristor. However, most of the Jewish buildings that stood there were destroyed during the 1980s in order to make way for the Bulevardul Unirii. As of 2015, there remain a handful of points of Jewish interest in Bucharest, serving the community of approximately 3,500. The Choral Temple, the Yeshua Tova Synagogue, and the Great Polish Synagogue, continue to hold services; the latter also hosts the city's Holocaust Museum. The Beit Hamidrash Synagogue, which dates back to the late 18th century, is abandoned and decaying, though the structure itself is still (barely) standing. Another abandoned synagogue whose building still stands is the Hevra Amuna (Temple of Faith).

The Jewish History Museum (Muzeul de Istorie a Evreilor din Romania) is located in what was once a synagogue called the Holy Union Temple. The synagogue building itself was constructed in 1836; it began serving as a Jewish history museum in 1978. Mozes Rosen, the chief rabbi of Romania from 1964 until his death in 1994, founded the museum and provided a number of items for its collection.

The State Jewish Theater, which is located in Bucharest, is the oldest uninterrupted Yiddish-language theater in the world. The theater features plays by Jewish playwrights, plays about Jewish topics, and Yiddish plays that run simultaneous Romanian translations through headphones. The theater is located next to the Lauder-Reut Jewish school, which has over 400 students enrolled in its kindergarten, elementary, and middle schools.


The Jewish community of Bucharest was formed both by Sephardic Jews who arrived from the south, chiefly from the Otooman Empire, and later by Ashkenazi Jews arriving from the north. A responsum by the rabbi of Solonika during the 16th century that mentions a Sephardic community is the first documented evidence confirming the presence of Jews in Budapest. The Jewish community began to grow and prosper; some were even the creditors of the ruling princes. This economic success, however, eventually came at a steep price (pun intended); when Prince Michael the Brave revolved against the Turks in November 1593, he ordered that his creditors be killed, among whom were a number of Jews.

Ahskenazi Jews began arriving and establishing their own community towards the middle of the 17th century, drawn there after fleeing the Khmielnitski Massacres taking place in Ukraine. Their numbers grew, and eventually the Ashkenazi community became larger than the Sephardic community. For tax purposes, the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities were organized into a single community by the state, and were forced to pay a fixed tax to the treasury. Meanwhile, the general population, afraid of economic competition, was intensely hostile towards the Jews. In 1793 residents of the suburb Razvan petitioned Prince Alexander Moruzi to expel the Jews who had recently settled in the area and to demolish the synagogue that they had built. Though the prince ordered that the synagogue be closed, he did not remove the Jews from Razvan and, in fact, issued a decree confirming his protection of them. In 1801 there were anti-Jewish riots following blood libel accusations, and 128 Jews were killed or wounded.

In 1819 Prince Alexandru Sutu officially acknowledged both the Sephardic ("Spanish") and Ashkenazi ("Polish") communities, allowing them to operate as separate entities. This continued until 1949 when the Communist regime once again forced the two communities to join together. By 1832 there were 10 Ashkenazi and one Sephardi synagogues in Bucharest. The Great Synagogue, which was Ashkenazi, was dedicated on Rosh Hashanah, 1847.

In spite of the impressive Great Synagogue, the Ashkenazi community of Bucharest had to deal with a number of fissures and tensions during the 19th century. There were tensions between those were born in Romania, and those who immigrated to Bucharest, who were not under the same system of taxation as the native Romanians. This led the immigrants within the Jewish community, who were considered "foreign subjects" to refuse to pay the tax levied on kosher meat. This was a problem, as this tax constituted the sole income of the community council. The authorities, who were drawn into the conflict, at first upheld the traditional rights of the Jewish communal organization. However, following repeated complaints from both sides, as well as constitutional changes that took place in Romania in 1832, the community was given a new constitution that greatly curtailed its autonomy. Instead of operating autonomously, it fell under the direct authority and close supervision of the municipality. Eventually, in 1851, the Prussian and Austrian subjects (about 300 families) were officially permitted to found a separate community.

The increasing influence of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment), also led to tensions within the Ashkenazi community. It is important to note that this conflict also reflected the economics of the community; those in favor of the Haskalah and who wanted the community to undertake more progressive reforms tended to be from the upper classes, while those who were more traditional tended to be further down the socioeconomic ladder. At that time, the Bucharest Ashkenazi community was torn by strife between the Orthodox and progressive factions. The controversy began to center around a school with a modern curriculum that opened in 1852, as well as the proposal in 1857, led by Ya'akov Lobel, to build a Choral Temple, that would incorporate modern ideas and principles into its services. The appointment of Rabbi Meir Leib Malbim in 1858 as the chief rabbi did not help quell the disputes. Malbim was a fierce and uncompromising opponent of the Reform movement, and he quickly made enemies among Bucharest's Jewish elite. The conflicts between Malbim and those who were in favor of the Reform Movement came to a head in 1862, when Malbim was arrested. He was freed only after Sir Moses Montefiore intervened, and on the condition that he leave Romania. The Choral Synagogue was completed in 1867, and became the center for the modernists of the community.

Among the most prominent spiritual and religious leaders of the community before World War I were Antoine Levy and Moritz (Meir) Beck, who were rabbis of the Choir Temple Congregation from 1867 to 1869 and 1873 to 1923, respectively. Other outstanding figures within the Choir Temple community were Iuliu Barasch and Yitzchak Leib Weinberg. Yitzchak Esiik Taubes was the rabbi of the Orthodox Congregation from 1894 until 1921. The most prominent lay leader was Adolf Stern. Moscu Asher led the Sephardic community, and Rabbi Hayim Bejarano was a noted scholar and poet. Later, the lawyer and politician Wilhelm Filderman would become the president of the Union of Romanian Jews, and Rabbi Jacob Isaac Niemirower would be the country's first chief rabbi. Filderman, in fact, would in 1941 work successfully to annul the decree forcing Jews to wear an identifying badge.

Between the two World Wars the Bucharest community grew in both numbers and importance. The Jewish population of the city, which had become the capital of Greater Romania and attracted immigrants from all parts of the country, increased from 44,000 in 1912 to 74,480 (12% of the total population) in 1930 and 95,072 in 1940. Most Jews worked as artisans, merchants, clerks, and bankers. Others were active in professions such as medicine and law. Several ironworks and foundries were established by the end of the 19th century. Major Jewish business leaders at that time included Leon Abramovici, Sigmund Prager, and Adolph Solomon.

There were a number of Jewish schools in Bucharest, particularly at the turn of the 20th century. Among the most influential was the abovementioned school established in 1852 by Yisrael Pick and Naftali Popper. These founders sought to imbue their school with the Haskalah principles that they believed in, and the school became extremely influential on Jewish education in Romania. There were also vocational institutions serving Jewish workers, including the Ciocanul (Hammer) school which trained Jewish craft workers.

Communal institutions included over 40 synagogues, two cemeteries, 19 schools, a library and museum, two hospitals, a clinic, two homes for the elderly, and two orphanages. There was also a B'nai B'rith, as long as a number of social and cultural organizations serving the community. A number of newspapers also served the community; the first Jewish newspaper, "Israelitul roman," was founded in 1855 and written in Romanian and French. Other publications included "Fraternitatea," "Revista Israelita," "Egalitatea," and "Curierul Israelit." Yiddish and Hebrew language publications included "Et LeDaber," "HaYoetz," and the Zionist newspapers "Mantuirea" and "Hasmonaea." A Yiddish theater was established in the late 1870s, and reached its peak during the interwar period. This theater would later be banned under Ion Antonescu.

Anti-Semitism continued to be a problem for the Jews of Bucharest. In 1866 the visit of Adolph Cremieux, a French lawyer who advocated for the political emancipation of the Jews, resulted in Jewish synagogues and shops being vandalized. The rise of prominence of nationalist leader Alexandru C. Cuza spurred the development of a number of anti-Semitic organizations, many of which were centered at Bucharest University.

In September 1940, with the rise of the Antonescu-Iron Guard coalition, Bucharest became one of the new regime's main centers of the anti-Jewish activities. This culminated in a pogrom during the rebellion of the Legionary Movement; 120 Jews were killed, thousands were arrested and tortured, synagogues were desecrated, and Jewish homes, shops, and community buildings were looted and destroyed.

Until the end of the Antonescu regime in August 1944, the Jews of Bucharest were subjected anti-Semitic legislation and persecution. Jews were legally downgraded to second-class citizens. They could no longer access state-funded education or health care, and their property was confiscated. These restrictions had major economic effects on the community: in 1942 only 27.2% of the city's Jewish population of about 100,000 were registered as employed, compared with 54.3% of the non-Jewish population. In September 1942 several hundred Jews were deported to Transnistria, where many eventually perished. Thousands of other Jews, particularly the young, were required to work as forced laborers.

The lack of access to education, combined with the growing poverty of the Jewish community, spurred the need for the community to greatly expand their own educational and social welfare activities. In 1943 the Jewish community ran 27 schools and 21 soup kitchens. Bucharest became the center of relief activities for Romanian Jews.

The Jews of Bucharest were saved after Antonescu was deposed on August 23, 1944 and German forces were not able to entering the city. Though Adolf Eichmann had begun making preparations to deport Romania's Jews, the fierce opposition on the part of the Romanian army, coupled with the entry of the Soviet Army on August 30, 1944, prevented any of these plans from being carried out.

After World War II, large numbers of Jewish refugees and concentration camp survivors began arriving in the city; by 1947 the Jewish population had grown to 150,000. The Communist regime, which came to power in 1947, gradually closed all Jewish national, cultural, and social institutions in Bucharest. The welfare institutions were nationalized and the schools were absorbed into the general educational network. A state Yiddish school was opened in 1949, but closed a few years later. A State Yiddish Theater was founded in 1948 and a Yiddish drama school was established in 1957. Two Jewish newspapers, the Romanian "Unirea," followed later by "Viata Novua" and the Yiddish "Ikuf Bleter" were published. Of the 44,202 Jews (3.6% of the total population) registered in the city in the 1956 census, 4,425 of them declared Yiddish to be their mother tongue. In spite of the difficulties in living under a Communist regime, Rabbi Mozes Rosen was able to successfully navigate the opaque policies of the Romanian government, allowing Bucharest to continue to serve as the center of Jewish communal and cultural life.

The rise of Nicolae Ceausescu, who was the dictator of Romania between 1965 and 1989, prompted mass emigrations to Israel. In 1969 it was estimated that there were 50,000 Jews living in Bucharest; by the turn of the 21st century there were only about 4,000.


Iași; in English: Jassy

A city nin north-eastern Romania.

First settled there in the second half of the 15th century. Their number increased when Polish Jews took refuge there during the Chmielnicki massacres (1648-49). In 1650 and 1652 many Jews in Jassy were murdered by Cossacks. There were new disturbances in 1726 when the populace, aggravated by a blood libel, sacked the houses of the Jews in Jassy and desecrated a number of synagogues. In 1742 Prince Constantin Mavrocordat, wishing to attract Jews from Poland, exempted those who settled in the town from taxes. By the middle of the 19th century the Jews had taken the place of the Turks and the Greeks as bankers and moneychangers. Many Jews were also goldsmiths, tailors, hatters, furriers, and shoemakers. A number of these crafts had their own unions, some possessing their own synagogues. The Jewish population numbered 31,015 persons in 1859 (47% of the population), 39,441 (50.8%) in 1899, and 35,000 in 1910.

During the Greek war of independence in 1821, Greek rebels killed hundreds of Jews at Jassy, although a large sum of money had been paid to their leader Alexander Ypsilanti for protection. In 1867 Jews having no legal documents of residence were declared vagrants and expelled from the country. Toward the end of the 19th century Jassy became the center of anti-Semitism in Romania. In 1882 and 1884 two economic congresses were held there with the aim of promoting a boycott on Jewish commerce and industry. During this period, 196 Jewish shops were closed down in 1892, and many Jewish tradesmen were expelled from the town. The University of Jassy became the center of anti-Semitism in Romania, with A.C. Cuza, who taught at the university, as its main proponent.

From 1662 to 1832 the affairs of the Jewish community of Jassy were administered by the "guild of the Jews", headed by the Chakham Bashi, who was the chief rabbi of Moldavia and Walachia, and three parnasim. From the taxes on kosher meat which it levied, the synagogues, talmud torah institutions, shelter for transients (hekdesh), and cemetery were maintained. After the guild was dissolved in 1834, associations were formed according to countries of origin (Russia, Austria, Prussia). The first modern school for boys was founded in 1852 but remained open for only five years because of opposition from orthodox circles.

Modern Jewish schools were again founded in 1893, after Jewish pupils had been expelled from public schools. There were 5,000 pupils attending the community schools in 1910.

In 1834 the administrators of the hospital, which was founded in 1772, took over the management of the community affairs, receiving the principal income from the tax on kosher meat. The orphanage and old age home were founded in 1890. In 1915 the Dr. L. Gelehrter hospital for children was founded. The Caritas Humanitas association with a membership of 2,000, was active up to the eve of World War II, providing medical assistance and aid for widows. There had been pro-Zionist groups at Jassy even before the Chibbat Zion. From 1878 to 1898 the Ohalei Shem association propagated the Hebrew language and Jewish culture. The Yishov Eretz Israel movement also had an important center in Jassy, headed by Karpel Lippe, who had initiated the two above mentioned associations. The poet Naphtali Herz Imber, author of Ha-Tikvah, lived in Jassy at the end of the 1870s. Following the appearance of Theodor Herzl, nine Zionist organizations were founded in Jassy, which amalgamated in 1910.

Jassy had long been the spiritual center for Jews living in both Romanian principalities (Moldavia and Walachia) through the influence of important rabbis who lived there.

The first of note, Solomon Ben Aroyo, a kabbalist and physician to the prince of Moldavia, lived in Jassy at the end of the 16th century and Pethahiah Ben David Lida served there in the 17th century. In the 18th century chasidism began to spread to Jassy and brought a number of chasidic leaders there, including Abraham Joshua Heschel of Apta, who lived in Jassy at the beginning of the 19th century. In the second half of the 19th century Jassy became a center of talmudic learning with scholars like Joseph Landua of Litin and Aaron Moses Ben Jacob Taubes. Among eminent chasidic scholars there the most important was Isaiah Schorr. In 1897 J.I. Niemirover began his rabbinical activity and remained in Jassy until 1911.

In 1919 the community was reorganized. In the same year elections were held for the first communal administration.

The community was recognized as a public body by the ministry of religion in 1927. In 1939 there existed in Jassy 112 synagogues, one kindergarten, three elementary schools for boys and four for girls, four religious schools (talmud torah), one yeshivah, one secondary school, one general hospital, one children's hospital, two sanatoria for invalids, an orphanage, and an old age home. A Zionist weekly Tribuna Evreeasca was published in Romanian at Jassy between the two World Wars. The continual troubles caused by the anti-Semitic organizations and economic persecution by the authorities, led to progressive pauperization among the Jewish masses in Jassy. In consequence the Jewish population diminished from 43,500 in 1921 to 35,465 (34.4% of the population) in 1930.

On November 8, 1940, two days after the Antonescu government had seized power, Jassy was proclaimed the "capital of the iron guard". The persecution of the Jewish population began immediately, accompanied by arbitrary arrests, torture, blackmail, confiscation of places of business, and attempts to stage trials on such charges as Communism. However, the Jewish community leaders soon managed to reach an agreement with the leaders of the iron guard, who promised to stop the persecution in exchange for the sum of six million lei to be paid in installments. Consequently, until the iron guard were forced out of the government (January 1941), there were few further anti-Semitic incidents in the city.

The final installment of the "subsidy" was paid during the Bucharest pogrom which occurred when the iron guard rebelled against Antonescu's government, and, as a result, the Jews of Jassy remained unharmed. In the summer of 1941, on the eve of the outbreak of war against the Soviet Union, many German army units moved to Jassy. German and Romanian patrols, accompanied by local residents, murdered some Jews and rounded up thousands more in the courtyard of the police station, where they were shot the next day. Immediately afterward, 4,330 Jews were dispatched to concentration camps, 2,650 of them suffocating on the way from the terrible overcrowding of the train cars. The exact number then killed at Jassy is unknown, but at the trial in 1948 of those responsible for this slaughter the prosecutor referred to 12,000 victims.

In 1969 there were about 2,000 Jewish families in Jassy, and 11 synagogues. Courses in Hebrew and Jewish history with about 80 participants were held.