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Leonte Tismaneanu

Leonte Tismăneanu (born Leonid Tisminetski) (1913-1981), journalist, Communist activist and propagandist, born in Soroca, Moldova (then part of Bessarabia in the Russian Empire, the region was incorporated into Romania after 1918). He joined the Romanian Communist Party in 1933, at a time when the Communist movement was illegal in Romania. While serving as secretary of the Uniunea Tineretului Comunist (UTC), the youth movement of the Communist party, for the 2nd sector of Bucharest, he was arrested and detained for six months. He returned to Soroca and was in charge of the local branch of the Communist party. Back in Bucharest in 1935, he was arrested again and detained for a number of months.

Tismăneanu volunteered to the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, and in 1937 he was wounded and lost his right hand. During WW2 he was in the Soviet Union, along with his wife Hermina Marcusohn, where he was editor at the Romanian-language broadcasts of Moscow radio while his wife was the newsreader.  He returned to Romania in 1948 and became editor of a number of propagandistic periodicals. Following the power struggles within the leadership of the Communist party, he was expelled from the party in 1960 - during the exclusion session from the party Tismăneanu suffered a heart attack and was taken to hospital. He was readmitted to the Communist party in 1964 and worked as editor at Meridiane Publishing House. He died in Otopeni, in the outskirts of Bucharest.

Date of birth:
1913
Date of death:
1981
ID Number:
20791319
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Soroca



Moldavian: Сорока (Soroca)

Russian: Сороки (Soroki)

Polish, Yiddish: Soroki

Romanian: Soroca


A city in the region of Bessarabia, northern Moldova. Until World War II in Romania.
 

21st Century

There were around 200 Jews living in Soroca in 2004 which decreased by about 50 persons over the next five years. Communal organizations were present.

The city of Soroca houses the building of a Hasidic synagogue nowadays serving a house of prayer to the Jewish community. It was built in 1804. A former synagogue from the beginning of the 20th century, has been refurbished as fire station. There is also a former Jewish hospital which is not in use.   

Various documentation remains from Jewish Soroca such as register of synagogues maintained by tailors in Soroca and Jewish trade union. The city of Soroca also hosts the house of the local Jewish lawyer family Josif Gendler

Soroca has a monument to victims of Fascism and the Holocaust. The Holocaust memorial was consecrated in the beginning of the 2000s in the Kosoutsi woods on the site of murder of 6000 Jews in 1941.

The Jewish cemetery of Soroca has around 20,000 gravestones with the earliest from the 18th century. The cemetery has been indexed and is maintained.

 

Prominent Figures

Arkady Gendler (1921- ) wrote Mayn shtetele Soroke (My Shtetl Soroca) a song in the 1990s. The poet Zelik Berdichever wrote about the Jews of Soroca in Yiddish.

 

History

The first mention of Jewish settlement in Soroca is in 1657. However, information concerning an organized community there only dates from the beginning of the 18th century. In 1817 there were 157 Jewish families. In the early 19th century, Rabbi David Solomon Eibeschutz served as rabbi and encouraged the study of torah in the town. The community grew in the 19th century with the Jewish immigration to Bessarabia, and at the end of the century also the frequent expulsions of Jews from the neighboring border area and from the villages.

In 1864, 4,135 Jews were registered in Soroca and in 1897 there were 8,783 Jews (57.2% of the total population). In 1863 a government Jewish school was opened. At the end of the century among the teachers in Soroca, were the writers Noah Rosenblum, and Kadish-Isaac Abramowich-Ginzburg, who laid the foundations of a new system of Jewish education and culture among the Jews of the town on a secular and national basis. Many of the Jews of Soroca engaged in agriculture, primarily in the growing of tobacco, grapes, and other fruit. In 1900 the Jewish colonization association established a training farm near Soroca.

From the 1880s the economic situation of the Jews deteriorated and a wave of immigration to the United States began. In 1930 there were 5,462 Jews (36.3% of the entire population). Before World War II several educational and social institutions existed in Soroca, including Hebrew elementary and secondary schools, a hospital (founded in 1885), and an old-age home. The Jewish life of Soroca is described by Shelomo Hillels in the novel, Har Ha-Keramim (1930). The community was destroyed with the entry of the Germans and Romanians into Bessarabia in July 1941.

 

Postwar

In the late 1960s the Jewish population was estimated at about 1,000. The only synagogue was closed down by the authorities in 1961. In April 1966 the mazah bakery was closed down by authorities, the bakers were arrested, and the baking of mazah was discontinued. Use of the cemetery and ritual poultry slaughtering was still permitted in 1970.

Bucharest

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.

HISTORY

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.

Moscow

Russian: Москва (Moskva)

Capital of Russia since 1918. The political, economic, and commercial center of Russia.

Jews were forbidden to reside in Moscow until the end of the 18th century, although many Jewish merchants from Poland and Lithuania visited the town on business. A few Jews had arrived during the Russian-Polish war of the 17th century as prisoners. Among them were some who converted to Christianity and remained in the city. Peter Shafizov, one of the most important advisors to Czar Peter the Great was of Jewish origin.

The First Partition of Poland in 1772 brought a number of Jews to Moscow, particularly from Shklov, which was then an important commercial center in Belarus. In 1790, Moscow merchants requested that the presence and commercial activities of Jews in the city be prohibited; a royal decree forbidding Jewish merchants from settling in the inner districts of Russia was subsequently issued in 1791. However, they were still allowed to reside in Moscow temporarily in order to trade and Jewish merchants continued to play an important role in the trade between Moscow and the Southern and Western regions of Russia, as well as in the export of Moscow's goods. As a result, Russian industrialists in Moscow tended to support granting rights to the Jews of the city.

In 1828, certain classes of Jewish merchants were authorized to remain in Moscow on business for a period of one month only (in 1832 all classes of Jewish merchants were allowed to stay in the city for up to half a year), and could stay only in one inn, Glebovskoye Podvoriye. The inn was a charitable trust which had been handed over to the Moscow Town Council so that its income could be used for the maintenance of a municipal eye clinic. Because it was the only place that Jewish merchants could stay while they were in Moscow, they were forced to pay exorbitant prices to stay at the inn. With the ascension of Czar Alexander II in 1855, restrictions were eased; Jewish merchants of the first guild, university graduates, army veterans, and certain medical professionals were permitted to live anywhere in the city.

The first Jews to settle permanently in Moscow, who became the founders of the community, were cantonists (Jews who had been conscripted to the military as children) who had finished their military service, some of whom had married Jewish women from the Pale of Settlement. In 1858 there were 340 Jewish men and 104 Jewish women in the entire District of Moscow. From 1865 to 1889 Rabbi Chaim Berlin served as the chief rabbi of Moscow, and in 1869 the community invited Shlomo Minor, one of the outstanding students of the Vilna rabbinical seminary, to serve as the Kazyonny Ravvin (Government Appointed Rabbi).

In 1871, the Jewish population of Moscow was estimated at around 8,000. This number grew to about 12,000 in 1882 and 35,000 (over 3% of the total population) in 1890, just before the expulsion.

The governor of Moscow, Prince Paul Dmitriyevich Dolgorukov, was known for his liberal attitude towards the Jews and (after receiving bribes and gifts) the local administration was willing to overlook their occasionally illegal presence in the city (for example, in the cases of those who falsely claimed to be merchants and artisans). While anti-Jewish persecutions and decrees were gaining momentum throughout Russia after the ascension of Czar Alexander III, the attempts to expel the Jews from Moscow were delayed. This peace proved to be temporary when Prince Dolgorukov was removed from office, and Grand Prince Sergei Alexandrovich was appointed in his stead. One of his explicitly-stated goals in taking office was "to save Moscow from the Jews." Shortly thereafter, on March 28, 1891 (Passover Eve, 5651), Jews began to be expelled from the city.

The expulsion from Moscow came as a deep shock to Russian Jewry. Within a short period of time, approximately 20,000 Jews were expelled from Moscow. The poor were sent to the Pale of Settlement on criminal transports and generous rewards were offered for the capture of any Jews hiding in the city. A considerable number of those expelled arrived in Warsaw and Lodz, and began to rebuild their businesses. At the height of the expulsion period, the authorities closed down the new Choral Synagogue, which had just been built in 1891, as well as 9 of the 14 prayer houses. It was not until 1906 that permission was granted for the Choral Synagogue to be reopened.

In 1897 there were 8,095 Jews living in Moscow (0.8% of the total population. Additionally, there were 216 Karaites living in the city). In 1902 there were 9,339 Jews living in the city, with half of them declaring Yiddish as their mother tongue; the overwhelming majority of others declared it to be Russian. In 1893 Ya'akov (Iakov) Mazeh was elected as the rabbi of Moscow, and remained its spiritual leader until his death in 1923.

Increasing numbers of Jewish students arrived in Moscow during the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century in order to pursue higher education. In 1886 there were about 298 Jewish students in the city, and in 1911 there were about 700. Additionally, after the outbreak of World War I, streams of Jewish refugees began arriving from the German-occupied regions. They took part in the development of war industries, and some amassed large fortunes. In a short period of time, Moscow became a center of Jewish life and culture. Hebrew printing presses were set up and a large Lithuanian yeshivah was founded in the town of Bogorodsk, near Moscow. The Hebrew theater Habimah performed its first play in 1917 (its masterpiece, Sh. Ansky's "Ha-Dibuk," would premiere in January 1922). Authorization was given for the publication of a Hebrew weekly, "Ha-Am." The founding conference of the Organization for Hebrew Education and Culture, Tarbut, was held in Moscow in the spring of 1917. While these cultural activities continued through the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the new regime rapidly shut down most of the institutions of Hebrew culture in Moscow. The Habimah Theater was more fortunate; it continued to exist and was protected several prominent members of the Russian artistic and literary world, who defended it as a first-class artistic institution.

The headquarters of the Yevsektsiya, the Jewish section of the Soviet Communist Party, were located in Moscow, where they published their central newspaper, "Der Emes," from 1920 until 1938, as well as many other Yiddish newspapers and books. The Jewish state theater (known in Russia by its Russian initials, GOSET), directed by Solomon Mikhoels, was also located in Moscow. For a number of years, small circles of organized Zionists continued to exist in the city, which was the central location of the legal He-Chalutz as well as of Po'alei Zion. The Yiddish Theater moved from Petrograd to Moscow in 1920, and in 1925 it was reorganized as the Moscow State Yiddish Theater. In 1926 the Second Moscow University opened a department to prepare future teachers to teach at Jewish schools.

This cultural blossoming came to a halt during the 1930s. The last Jewish school was closed in 1936, while most Yiddish language educational and cultural institutions were closed in 1937 and 1938. The mass arrests from 1936=1938 also claimed a large number of Jews from Moscow, many of whom were party elites.

When Moscow became the capital of the Soviet Union in 1918, its Jewish population began rapidly increasing. In 1920 there were 28,000 Jews in the city, which had become severely depopulated as a result of the civil war. By 1923 that number had increased to 86,000, and by 1926 to 131,000 (6.5% of the total population). In 1940 the Jewish population was estimated at 400,000. In the census of 1959, 239,246 Jews (4.7% of the total population) were registered in the municipal area of Moscow; these numbers are thought to be a gross underestimate, and some opinions evaluate Moscow's Jewish population during that time as being as high as 500,000.


During World War II, from 1943, Moscow was the headquarters of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, which gathered together major well-known Soviet Jewish figures in order to assist the Soviet Union in its war effort against Nazi Germany and to mobilize world Jewish opinion and aid for this cause. It published a newspaper, "Eynikayt." The Anti-Fascist Committee attempted to continue its activities after the war, but was brutally suppressed in the years following the war. In 1950 the state security apparatus invented the Stalin Automobile Plant of Moscow (ZIS) Affair, accusing 48 people (42 of whom were Jews) of organizing a Jewish national sabotage group at the plant, led by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. All ten people who were executed were Jews. Indeed, Moscow's Jews were particularly affected by Stalin's anti-Semitic campaigns after the war. Many of Moscow's Jews were fired from their jobs, arrested, and even executed after being falsely accused of various plots against Stalin and the state.

When Golda Meir, the first diplomatic representative of the State of Israel, arrived in Moscow on September 1948, a spontaneous mass demonstration of Jews in her honor took place on the High Holidays near and around the Moscow Choral Synagogue, angering Soviet officials. Later, the Israel delegation to the Youth Festival, held in Moscow in 1957, was the first opportunity that Jewish youth from Israel and the USSR had to form personal connections.

By 1970, there were three functioning synagogues in Moscow, the most historically significant of which was the Moscow Choral Synagogue (one of the three would be closed down by the authorities in 1972). In the 1950s and 1960s, The Moscow Choral Synagogue was allowed to issue a Jewish calendar and to send it to other synagogues in the USSR. In 1956 the synagogue's rabbi, Rabbi Solomon Schliefer ,was granted permission to print a prayer book from older prayer books. He named it "Siddur Ha-Shalom" ("The Prayer Book of Peace") and deleted all references to wars and victories (for example, the prayers said on Chanukkah and Purim). He is said to have printed 3,000 copies, but it was rarely seen in other synagogues in the Soviet Union. In 1957, Rabbi Schliefer was given permission by the authorities to open a yeshiva on the premesis of The Great Synagogue. He called it "Kol Ya'akov" ("The Voice of Jacob") and for several years a small number of young and middle-aged Jewish men, mostly from Georgia, were trained there. Nearly all the men learning there trained to be shochatim (ritual slaughterers), and the number of ordained rabbis did not exceed 1 or 2. By 1963 37 students had passed through the yeshiva; 25 of them had been trained as shochatim. In 1965 there was only 1 student studying there. Beginning in 1961, a barrier was erected in the Moscow Choral Synagogue to separate foreign visitors, including Israeli diplomats, from the local congregation and the synagogue's officers were responsible for strictly enforcing the segregation. In 1962, matzah-baking and distribution was restricted in Moscow, as well as in most other areas of the Soviet Union.


Yiddish folklore concerts took place relatively frequently in the city and drew large crowds. A semi-professional theater troupe was established, led by the actor Benjamin Schwartzer, and mainly performed Sholom Aleichem plays in provincial cities. In 1961 the Yiddish journal "Sovietish Heymland," edited by an officially appointed editor, the poet Aaron Vergelis, began to appear as an "organ of the Soviet Writers' Union."The Moscow Jewish Tramatic Ensemble was created in 1962 (which would be renamed the Shalom Jewish Dramatic Theater Studio).

The Six Day War and the subsequent rupture of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Israel put an end to cultural contacts between the two countries. But many of Moscow's Jews, particularly the younger generation, began demonstrating their feelings of Jewish nationalism more openly. Simchat Torah at the Moscow Choral Synagogue became a time for thousands of Jews to come together and sing Yiddish and Hebrew songs. These Jews began studying Hebrew in small, secret groups and publishing samizdat (underground publications). Jews organized groups to study Judaism and Jewish history, and held Jewish song contests. They also demonstrated and signed petitions against the refusal to grant them exit permits to Israel. A number of these activists ("refuseniks") were arrested for their activities, including Ida Nudel, Yosef Begun, and Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky.

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Leonte Tismaneanu

Leonte Tismăneanu (born Leonid Tisminetski) (1913-1981), journalist, Communist activist and propagandist, born in Soroca, Moldova (then part of Bessarabia in the Russian Empire, the region was incorporated into Romania after 1918). He joined the Romanian Communist Party in 1933, at a time when the Communist movement was illegal in Romania. While serving as secretary of the Uniunea Tineretului Comunist (UTC), the youth movement of the Communist party, for the 2nd sector of Bucharest, he was arrested and detained for six months. He returned to Soroca and was in charge of the local branch of the Communist party. Back in Bucharest in 1935, he was arrested again and detained for a number of months.

Tismăneanu volunteered to the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, and in 1937 he was wounded and lost his right hand. During WW2 he was in the Soviet Union, along with his wife Hermina Marcusohn, where he was editor at the Romanian-language broadcasts of Moscow radio while his wife was the newsreader.  He returned to Romania in 1948 and became editor of a number of propagandistic periodicals. Following the power struggles within the leadership of the Communist party, he was expelled from the party in 1960 - during the exclusion session from the party Tismăneanu suffered a heart attack and was taken to hospital. He was readmitted to the Communist party in 1964 and worked as editor at Meridiane Publishing House. He died in Otopeni, in the outskirts of Bucharest.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Moscow
Bucharest
Soroca

Moscow

Russian: Москва (Moskva)

Capital of Russia since 1918. The political, economic, and commercial center of Russia.

Jews were forbidden to reside in Moscow until the end of the 18th century, although many Jewish merchants from Poland and Lithuania visited the town on business. A few Jews had arrived during the Russian-Polish war of the 17th century as prisoners. Among them were some who converted to Christianity and remained in the city. Peter Shafizov, one of the most important advisors to Czar Peter the Great was of Jewish origin.

The First Partition of Poland in 1772 brought a number of Jews to Moscow, particularly from Shklov, which was then an important commercial center in Belarus. In 1790, Moscow merchants requested that the presence and commercial activities of Jews in the city be prohibited; a royal decree forbidding Jewish merchants from settling in the inner districts of Russia was subsequently issued in 1791. However, they were still allowed to reside in Moscow temporarily in order to trade and Jewish merchants continued to play an important role in the trade between Moscow and the Southern and Western regions of Russia, as well as in the export of Moscow's goods. As a result, Russian industrialists in Moscow tended to support granting rights to the Jews of the city.

In 1828, certain classes of Jewish merchants were authorized to remain in Moscow on business for a period of one month only (in 1832 all classes of Jewish merchants were allowed to stay in the city for up to half a year), and could stay only in one inn, Glebovskoye Podvoriye. The inn was a charitable trust which had been handed over to the Moscow Town Council so that its income could be used for the maintenance of a municipal eye clinic. Because it was the only place that Jewish merchants could stay while they were in Moscow, they were forced to pay exorbitant prices to stay at the inn. With the ascension of Czar Alexander II in 1855, restrictions were eased; Jewish merchants of the first guild, university graduates, army veterans, and certain medical professionals were permitted to live anywhere in the city.

The first Jews to settle permanently in Moscow, who became the founders of the community, were cantonists (Jews who had been conscripted to the military as children) who had finished their military service, some of whom had married Jewish women from the Pale of Settlement. In 1858 there were 340 Jewish men and 104 Jewish women in the entire District of Moscow. From 1865 to 1889 Rabbi Chaim Berlin served as the chief rabbi of Moscow, and in 1869 the community invited Shlomo Minor, one of the outstanding students of the Vilna rabbinical seminary, to serve as the Kazyonny Ravvin (Government Appointed Rabbi).

In 1871, the Jewish population of Moscow was estimated at around 8,000. This number grew to about 12,000 in 1882 and 35,000 (over 3% of the total population) in 1890, just before the expulsion.

The governor of Moscow, Prince Paul Dmitriyevich Dolgorukov, was known for his liberal attitude towards the Jews and (after receiving bribes and gifts) the local administration was willing to overlook their occasionally illegal presence in the city (for example, in the cases of those who falsely claimed to be merchants and artisans). While anti-Jewish persecutions and decrees were gaining momentum throughout Russia after the ascension of Czar Alexander III, the attempts to expel the Jews from Moscow were delayed. This peace proved to be temporary when Prince Dolgorukov was removed from office, and Grand Prince Sergei Alexandrovich was appointed in his stead. One of his explicitly-stated goals in taking office was "to save Moscow from the Jews." Shortly thereafter, on March 28, 1891 (Passover Eve, 5651), Jews began to be expelled from the city.

The expulsion from Moscow came as a deep shock to Russian Jewry. Within a short period of time, approximately 20,000 Jews were expelled from Moscow. The poor were sent to the Pale of Settlement on criminal transports and generous rewards were offered for the capture of any Jews hiding in the city. A considerable number of those expelled arrived in Warsaw and Lodz, and began to rebuild their businesses. At the height of the expulsion period, the authorities closed down the new Choral Synagogue, which had just been built in 1891, as well as 9 of the 14 prayer houses. It was not until 1906 that permission was granted for the Choral Synagogue to be reopened.

In 1897 there were 8,095 Jews living in Moscow (0.8% of the total population. Additionally, there were 216 Karaites living in the city). In 1902 there were 9,339 Jews living in the city, with half of them declaring Yiddish as their mother tongue; the overwhelming majority of others declared it to be Russian. In 1893 Ya'akov (Iakov) Mazeh was elected as the rabbi of Moscow, and remained its spiritual leader until his death in 1923.

Increasing numbers of Jewish students arrived in Moscow during the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century in order to pursue higher education. In 1886 there were about 298 Jewish students in the city, and in 1911 there were about 700. Additionally, after the outbreak of World War I, streams of Jewish refugees began arriving from the German-occupied regions. They took part in the development of war industries, and some amassed large fortunes. In a short period of time, Moscow became a center of Jewish life and culture. Hebrew printing presses were set up and a large Lithuanian yeshivah was founded in the town of Bogorodsk, near Moscow. The Hebrew theater Habimah performed its first play in 1917 (its masterpiece, Sh. Ansky's "Ha-Dibuk," would premiere in January 1922). Authorization was given for the publication of a Hebrew weekly, "Ha-Am." The founding conference of the Organization for Hebrew Education and Culture, Tarbut, was held in Moscow in the spring of 1917. While these cultural activities continued through the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the new regime rapidly shut down most of the institutions of Hebrew culture in Moscow. The Habimah Theater was more fortunate; it continued to exist and was protected several prominent members of the Russian artistic and literary world, who defended it as a first-class artistic institution.

The headquarters of the Yevsektsiya, the Jewish section of the Soviet Communist Party, were located in Moscow, where they published their central newspaper, "Der Emes," from 1920 until 1938, as well as many other Yiddish newspapers and books. The Jewish state theater (known in Russia by its Russian initials, GOSET), directed by Solomon Mikhoels, was also located in Moscow. For a number of years, small circles of organized Zionists continued to exist in the city, which was the central location of the legal He-Chalutz as well as of Po'alei Zion. The Yiddish Theater moved from Petrograd to Moscow in 1920, and in 1925 it was reorganized as the Moscow State Yiddish Theater. In 1926 the Second Moscow University opened a department to prepare future teachers to teach at Jewish schools.

This cultural blossoming came to a halt during the 1930s. The last Jewish school was closed in 1936, while most Yiddish language educational and cultural institutions were closed in 1937 and 1938. The mass arrests from 1936=1938 also claimed a large number of Jews from Moscow, many of whom were party elites.

When Moscow became the capital of the Soviet Union in 1918, its Jewish population began rapidly increasing. In 1920 there were 28,000 Jews in the city, which had become severely depopulated as a result of the civil war. By 1923 that number had increased to 86,000, and by 1926 to 131,000 (6.5% of the total population). In 1940 the Jewish population was estimated at 400,000. In the census of 1959, 239,246 Jews (4.7% of the total population) were registered in the municipal area of Moscow; these numbers are thought to be a gross underestimate, and some opinions evaluate Moscow's Jewish population during that time as being as high as 500,000.


During World War II, from 1943, Moscow was the headquarters of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, which gathered together major well-known Soviet Jewish figures in order to assist the Soviet Union in its war effort against Nazi Germany and to mobilize world Jewish opinion and aid for this cause. It published a newspaper, "Eynikayt." The Anti-Fascist Committee attempted to continue its activities after the war, but was brutally suppressed in the years following the war. In 1950 the state security apparatus invented the Stalin Automobile Plant of Moscow (ZIS) Affair, accusing 48 people (42 of whom were Jews) of organizing a Jewish national sabotage group at the plant, led by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. All ten people who were executed were Jews. Indeed, Moscow's Jews were particularly affected by Stalin's anti-Semitic campaigns after the war. Many of Moscow's Jews were fired from their jobs, arrested, and even executed after being falsely accused of various plots against Stalin and the state.

When Golda Meir, the first diplomatic representative of the State of Israel, arrived in Moscow on September 1948, a spontaneous mass demonstration of Jews in her honor took place on the High Holidays near and around the Moscow Choral Synagogue, angering Soviet officials. Later, the Israel delegation to the Youth Festival, held in Moscow in 1957, was the first opportunity that Jewish youth from Israel and the USSR had to form personal connections.

By 1970, there were three functioning synagogues in Moscow, the most historically significant of which was the Moscow Choral Synagogue (one of the three would be closed down by the authorities in 1972). In the 1950s and 1960s, The Moscow Choral Synagogue was allowed to issue a Jewish calendar and to send it to other synagogues in the USSR. In 1956 the synagogue's rabbi, Rabbi Solomon Schliefer ,was granted permission to print a prayer book from older prayer books. He named it "Siddur Ha-Shalom" ("The Prayer Book of Peace") and deleted all references to wars and victories (for example, the prayers said on Chanukkah and Purim). He is said to have printed 3,000 copies, but it was rarely seen in other synagogues in the Soviet Union. In 1957, Rabbi Schliefer was given permission by the authorities to open a yeshiva on the premesis of The Great Synagogue. He called it "Kol Ya'akov" ("The Voice of Jacob") and for several years a small number of young and middle-aged Jewish men, mostly from Georgia, were trained there. Nearly all the men learning there trained to be shochatim (ritual slaughterers), and the number of ordained rabbis did not exceed 1 or 2. By 1963 37 students had passed through the yeshiva; 25 of them had been trained as shochatim. In 1965 there was only 1 student studying there. Beginning in 1961, a barrier was erected in the Moscow Choral Synagogue to separate foreign visitors, including Israeli diplomats, from the local congregation and the synagogue's officers were responsible for strictly enforcing the segregation. In 1962, matzah-baking and distribution was restricted in Moscow, as well as in most other areas of the Soviet Union.


Yiddish folklore concerts took place relatively frequently in the city and drew large crowds. A semi-professional theater troupe was established, led by the actor Benjamin Schwartzer, and mainly performed Sholom Aleichem plays in provincial cities. In 1961 the Yiddish journal "Sovietish Heymland," edited by an officially appointed editor, the poet Aaron Vergelis, began to appear as an "organ of the Soviet Writers' Union."The Moscow Jewish Tramatic Ensemble was created in 1962 (which would be renamed the Shalom Jewish Dramatic Theater Studio).

The Six Day War and the subsequent rupture of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Israel put an end to cultural contacts between the two countries. But many of Moscow's Jews, particularly the younger generation, began demonstrating their feelings of Jewish nationalism more openly. Simchat Torah at the Moscow Choral Synagogue became a time for thousands of Jews to come together and sing Yiddish and Hebrew songs. These Jews began studying Hebrew in small, secret groups and publishing samizdat (underground publications). Jews organized groups to study Judaism and Jewish history, and held Jewish song contests. They also demonstrated and signed petitions against the refusal to grant them exit permits to Israel. A number of these activists ("refuseniks") were arrested for their activities, including Ida Nudel, Yosef Begun, and Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky.

Bucharest

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.

HISTORY

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.

Soroca



Moldavian: Сорока (Soroca)

Russian: Сороки (Soroki)

Polish, Yiddish: Soroki

Romanian: Soroca


A city in the region of Bessarabia, northern Moldova. Until World War II in Romania.
 

21st Century

There were around 200 Jews living in Soroca in 2004 which decreased by about 50 persons over the next five years. Communal organizations were present.

The city of Soroca houses the building of a Hasidic synagogue nowadays serving a house of prayer to the Jewish community. It was built in 1804. A former synagogue from the beginning of the 20th century, has been refurbished as fire station. There is also a former Jewish hospital which is not in use.   

Various documentation remains from Jewish Soroca such as register of synagogues maintained by tailors in Soroca and Jewish trade union. The city of Soroca also hosts the house of the local Jewish lawyer family Josif Gendler

Soroca has a monument to victims of Fascism and the Holocaust. The Holocaust memorial was consecrated in the beginning of the 2000s in the Kosoutsi woods on the site of murder of 6000 Jews in 1941.

The Jewish cemetery of Soroca has around 20,000 gravestones with the earliest from the 18th century. The cemetery has been indexed and is maintained.

 

Prominent Figures

Arkady Gendler (1921- ) wrote Mayn shtetele Soroke (My Shtetl Soroca) a song in the 1990s. The poet Zelik Berdichever wrote about the Jews of Soroca in Yiddish.

 

History

The first mention of Jewish settlement in Soroca is in 1657. However, information concerning an organized community there only dates from the beginning of the 18th century. In 1817 there were 157 Jewish families. In the early 19th century, Rabbi David Solomon Eibeschutz served as rabbi and encouraged the study of torah in the town. The community grew in the 19th century with the Jewish immigration to Bessarabia, and at the end of the century also the frequent expulsions of Jews from the neighboring border area and from the villages.

In 1864, 4,135 Jews were registered in Soroca and in 1897 there were 8,783 Jews (57.2% of the total population). In 1863 a government Jewish school was opened. At the end of the century among the teachers in Soroca, were the writers Noah Rosenblum, and Kadish-Isaac Abramowich-Ginzburg, who laid the foundations of a new system of Jewish education and culture among the Jews of the town on a secular and national basis. Many of the Jews of Soroca engaged in agriculture, primarily in the growing of tobacco, grapes, and other fruit. In 1900 the Jewish colonization association established a training farm near Soroca.

From the 1880s the economic situation of the Jews deteriorated and a wave of immigration to the United States began. In 1930 there were 5,462 Jews (36.3% of the entire population). Before World War II several educational and social institutions existed in Soroca, including Hebrew elementary and secondary schools, a hospital (founded in 1885), and an old-age home. The Jewish life of Soroca is described by Shelomo Hillels in the novel, Har Ha-Keramim (1930). The community was destroyed with the entry of the Germans and Romanians into Bessarabia in July 1941.

 

Postwar

In the late 1960s the Jewish population was estimated at about 1,000. The only synagogue was closed down by the authorities in 1961. In April 1966 the mazah bakery was closed down by authorities, the bakers were arrested, and the baking of mazah was discontinued. Use of the cemetery and ritual poultry slaughtering was still permitted in 1970.