Search
Print
Share
Your Selected Item:
Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions

The Jewish Community of Turda

Turda

In German: Thorenburg; Hungarian: Torda

A town in south Transylvania, western central Romania.

Until the end of World War I within Hungary.

Jews began to settle there at the close of the 18th century although individual Jews had visited the locality earlier. A document of 1669 mentions a Jew of Alba Iulia who had stayed in Turda in order to sign an agreement with the local inhabitants. A community was organized between 1830 and 1840. There were already houses of prayer during that period. The community remained orthodox throughout its existence, but there were also many maskilim in Turda. The Jewish population numbered 48 families (175 persons) in 1866, 203 (2.1% of the total) in 1870; 326 (3.5%) in 1900; 482 (3.5%) in 1910, and 852 (4.2%) in 1930. The community, which was wealthy and well organized, employed some distinguished rabbis, among them Ben-Zion Albert Wesel (1900-38) and Joseph Adler (1938-44).

For most of the period between the two world wars these two rabbis also held the position of president of the central office of the organization of orthodox communities of Transylvania, and the community thus played a foremost role among orthodox Jewry in Transylvania. An orthodox Hungarian-language weekly, Hoemesz, was published in Turda from 1933 to 1940. A large synagogue was erected in 1932. Zionist activities were also organized, and there was a group of Jews which supported the Hungarian minority movement in Romania. A Jewish club, established in 1936, played an important part in Jewish life. There were 726 Jews in Turda (2.2% of the total population) in 1940. Their numbers increased to 1,805 in 1942 after Jews from the surrounding areas were concentrated in Turda by the Romanian Fascist authorities. From 1940 to 1944, because of the location of Turda near the Romanian-Hungarian border and within 18 miles (approx. 30 kms) Of Cluj, the capital of northern Transylvania, Jews of Turda played an important role in underground rescue activities among the Jewish population.

Members of the community collaborated with the representatives of the Zionist youth movements in contact with the rescue centers in Bucharest and Budapest and rescue workers in Palestine through their center in Istanbul. They organized secret routes for the transfer of refugees from neighboring Hungary to Romania, where the situation of the Jews was less dangerous, subsequently directing the refugees toward Bucharest, from where most of them reached Palestine. Hundreds of refugees passed along this escape route, most of them from Hungary, some from Slovakia, and even a number from Poland. In the fall of 1944, the town was taken by Hungarian forces. However, they were defeated by the Russians about five weeks later before they had succeeded in organizing the deportation of the local Jews.

After the war the community continued activities but its institutions lost their importance with the decline of the Jewish population as a result of emigration to Israel and elsewhere. There were about 150 Jews living in Turda in 1971. Prayers were still held in the great synagogue on Jewish festivals.

 

Place Type:
Town
ID Number:
252709
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
WESEL

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 toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

Wesel/Vesel means "merry" in Slavic languages.

As a family name it could have links with the Moravian town called Veseli/Wesseli or the west German town of Wesel on the right bank of the Rhine. Some of its variants can be associated with Weiss, the German for "white", a nickname for persons with white hair, beard or skin. Weiss is recorded as a Jewish family name in 1197 in Wuerzburg, Germany, with Samuel Weiss, also known as Albus. Weisel is documented as a Jewish family name in the early 18th century with Loebel Hirsch Weisel of Prague, Bohemia, who attended the Leipzig (Germany) fairs in the years 1711-1716, and was also known as Weiselitz. Veisel is recorded as a Jewish family name during World War II with deportees taken from France to the death camp at Auschwitz in 1942- 1944.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Wesel include the 17th century Amsterdam, Netherlands printer Moses Wesel; the 18th century German Rabbi Baruch Bendet Ben Reuben Wesel (Benedict Reuben Gomperz), who was born in Wesel on the Rhine; and the 20th century Transylvanian rabbi of Turda (Romania) Ben Zion Albert Wesel.

A city in Transylvania, Romania.

German and Jewish sources: Karlsburg, Carlsburg

Hungarian: Gyulafehérvár

Latin: Apulum

Ottoman Turkish: Erdel Belgradı, Belgrad-ı Erdel

Alba Iulia was the capital of the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom and the Principality of Transylvania between 1541 and 1690. It was administered by Hungary for several centuries, until after World War I (1914-1918), when it was annexed to Romania.

 

21ST CENTURY

On November 26, 2017 Alba Iulia’s historic Ashkenazi synagogue was rededicated, after undergoing a restoration process.

The Jewish cemetery is believed to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Transylvania, and among the oldest in Romania. It includes thousands of graves.

In 2003 there were 45 Jews remaining in Alba Iulia.

 

HISTORY

The first Jews to settle in Alba Iulia were Sefardim, who benefited from the patronage of the princes of Transylvania. A Hebrew document dating from 1591 mentions a beit din (Jewish court). Then, in 1623, at the insistence of Abraham Szasza, a Jewish physician from Constantinople who had been invited to settle in Alba Iulia, Prince Bethlen Gabor granted the Jews of Alba Iulia a number of residential and commercial privileges. The privileges were endorsed by the national assembly in 1627, and they proved to be strong enough that after 1653 Alba Iulia became the only place in Transylvania where Jews were permitted to live.

Prince Apaffi Mihaly I reaffirmed the privileges granted to the Jews of Alba Iulia in 1673, an act that was all the more significant for the fact that it occurred in the wake of a number of anti-Jewish riots. The charter was subsequently renewed a number of times.

In 1689 there were 12 Jewish families living in Alba Iulia. Records indicate that there were 54 Jewish families living in Alba Iulia in 1754.

Data from the census of 1735 demonstrates that the Jews living in Alba Iulia originated from
Poland, Turkey, Moldavia, Wallachia, Hungary, Moravia, and Belgrade. The mid-18th century also proved to be a turning point for the nature of Alba Iulia’s Jewish community, as the Ashkenazim began to dominate. Nevertheless, the community pinkas (minute book) for the period spanning 1736-1835, was written in a mixture of Hebrew, Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, German, and Hungarian, attesting to the community’s diversity.

Alba Iulia was eventually seen as the Jewish capital of Transylvania. The community judge was described as the "head of the Jewish people of the region." Between 1754 and 1868 the congregation’s rabbi held the title "Rabbi of Karlsburg and Chief Rabbi of the State."

Rabbis who served Alba Iulia’s Jewish community included the first known chief rabbi, the Sefardi Chacham Abraham Isaac Russo (d. 1738). Ezekiel Panet, served in Alba Iulia between 1823 and 1845. The last chief rabbi was Abraham Friedman.

After the religious schism that occurred in 1867, in the wake of the Hungarian Jewish Congress, the Jewish community of Alba Iulia declared itself as Status Quo Ante, affiliating neither with the Orthodox movement, nor with the Neologs. Nonetheless, an Orthodox congregation was founded in Alba Iulia in 1908. In 1932 the rest of the community chose to affiliate with the Orthodox movement.  

A Jewish newspaper, the Siebenbuerger Israelit, was published in Alba Iulia beginning in 1883. Construction on the synagogue was completed in 1886 after more than a century of negotiations and construction.

Beginning in 1927, with the rise of the anti-Semitic Iron Guard, life for the Jews of Alba Iulia became increasingly difficult. The Iron Guard destroyed the Ashkenazi synagogue in 1938.

In 1891 Alba Iulia’s Jewish population was 1,357. That number grew, and in 1910 it was 1,586 (out of a total population of 11,616). The Jewish population in 1920 was 1,770 (out of a total of 9,645). In 1930 there were 1,558 Jewish people living in Alba Iulia (out of a total population of 12,282).

 

THE HOLOCAUST

Alba Iulia’s Jewish community was subject to anti-Jewish legislation put into place by the Antonescu regime. The community’s property was confiscated in 1941.

During the war, the Jewish population of Alba Iulia increased, as the authorities sent Jews to the city from the surrounding areas. Heavy fighting in 1944 caused an additional influx of refugees.

 

POSTWAR

In 1947 there were 2,070 Jews living in Alba Iulia. However, by the 1960s this number had decreased dramatically, due chiefly to immigration.

In 1980 the Communist government demolished the synagogue.

 

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

Cluj-Napoca

Commonly known as Cluj  - renamed Cluj-Napoca from Cluj in 1974
Yiddish: Kloyzenburg (קלויזענבורג)
Hungarian: Kolozsvar
German: Klausenburg

A city in northwest Romania. Cluj is the capital of Cluj County, and is traditionally considered to be the capital of Transylvania

Between 1790 and 1848, and 1861 and 1867, Cluj was the capital of Transylvania. The location of Cluj is roughly equidistant from Bucharest (201 miles/324km), Budapest (218 miles/351km), and Belgrade (200 miles/322km). Between 1867 and 1920, and between 1940 and 1945, Cluj was part of Hungary.

The Neolog synagogue is the only functioning synagogue left in Cluj, and serves the local Jewish community. It is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust.

A census conducted in 2002 indicated that there were 223 Jews living in Cluj.

HISTORY

A document from 1481 is the first evidence of a Jewish presence in Cluj. During the 16th and 17th centuries Jews attended the city's fairs, in spite of opposition from the local authorities. However, it was only in the late 18th century that Jews were permitted to settle in Cluj; during the 17th and 18th centuries any Jews who wanted to live in Transylvania were restricted to the town of Alba Iulia.

The census of 1780 records eight Jewish families as living in Cluj. Locals were not happy about having Jews in their city. In 1784 the municipal council prohibited the inhabitants from selling real estate to Jews. Lobel Deutsch, the first Jew who had been allowed to live in Cluj, had his shop closed by the authorities in 1790; when he protested his 11-year old daughter was kidnapped and forcibly baptized.

In spite of the struggles, a small number of Jews remained in Cluj and made their homes there. A prayer room was opened in 1807, and a small synagogue was built in 1818, at which point the community consisted of 40 people. A chevra kaddisha was founded in 1837.

In 1839 fifteen Jewish families were permitted to live in Cluj, but they were forbidden from hosting any other Jews from other areas. Nonetheless, before the Revolution of 1848 there were 58 Jewish families living n Cluj; the authorities had plans to expel 16 of them. With the outbreak and subsequent failure of the revolution, the Imperial Constitution of 1849 removed the residence restrictions imposed on the Jews of Transylvania, and granted them the right to purchase real estate.

As a result of the removal of various restrictions, the Jewish community of Cluj began to grow rapidly; by 1850 there were 479 Jews living in Cluj, and the population would continue to grow. The city's first synagogue was established in 1851; a year later Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein arrived to serve the community. Rabbi Lichtenstein did not serve for long; his opposition to modernism, as well as his conflicts with Transylvania's chief rabbi, Abraham Friedman, eventually led to his firing, and he left the city in 1854. He was succeeded in 1861 by Rabbi Feisch Fischman. Rabbi Abraham Glasner served the community from 1863 until 1877; he was opposed by proponents of the Hasidic movement, which was then gaining ground in the city. Glasner's son, Moshe Glasner, succeeded him in 1878; Mosher Glasner, in turn, was succeeded by his son, Akiva Glasner, who served from 1919 until the community's destruction in1944.

The religious schism that took place during and after the General Jewish Congress of Hungary (1868-1869) also affected the Jews of Cluj. An Orthodox community was maintained; those who did not want to identify as Orthodox were organized into the Status Quo community (a community that was neither Orthodox nor Neolog) in 1881; the Status Quo community subsequently became Neolog in 1884. The Neolog community established a synagogue in 1886, which was renovated in 1912. Alexander Kohut served as the Neolog community's first rabbi (1884-1885); he was succeeded by Rabbi Matyas Eisler (1891-1930), and Rabbi Moses Weinberger (1934-1944). The Hasidim established a separate communal organization in 1921 and was led by Rabbi Zalman Leib Halberstam.The Orthodox and Neolog communities each opened their own educational institutions. The Orthodox elementary school opened in 1875, while the Neolog community opened their school in 1908.

In 1866 there were 776 Jews living in Cluj; after the emancipation of 1869-1870 the city's Jewish population shot up to 3,008. By 1910 the population had more than doubled, with 7,046 Jews living in the city (11.6% of the total population).

Zionism became active in Cluj after World War I, and Cluj became a Zionist center within Transylvania. Uj Kelet, a lively and prominent Zionist weekly (it later became a daily newspaper), began to be published at the end of 1918. It had a large readership and became a major influence among the Jews of Transylvania and Romania. Uj Kelet was also the organ of the (principally Zionist) Jewish Party (Partidul Evreiesc); some of the party's local activists were elected to the Romanian Parliament. Cluj's local Jewish press was not limited to Zionism, however. During the interwar period approximately 20 newspapers were published in Cluj, on a variety of topics and in languages ranging from Yiddish to Hebrew to Hungarian.

A Tarbut high school was founded in Cluj in 1920; its director, Mark Antal, was a former director general of Hungary's Ministry of Education and Culture. The language of instruction was Hungarian, Romanian, and Hebrew. The Tarbut school operated until 1927, when it was closed by the Romanian authorities. Later, after Cluj was annexed by Hungary and Jewish children were prohibited from attending general schools, a Jewish high school was opened in October 1940 and functioned until the community's internment in the ghetto.

In 1930 there were 13,504 Jews living in Cluj (12.7% of the total population).

THE HOLOCAUST

After the 1940 Hungarian annexation, anti- Jewish measures and economic restrictions were imposed on Jews throughout the region. In 1942 most of the military-age men in Cluj were conscripted for forced labor and transported to the Nazi-occupied area of the Soviet Union, where many perished.

When the Germans occupied Hungary in the summer of 1944 the local Jews, 16,763 Jews from Cluj, Szamosujvar (Gherla) and the surrounding area were confined to a ghetto. They were deported to Auschwitz between May 25 and June 9, 1944, where most were killed.

POSTWAR

A number of survivors from Cluj returned to the city, and were joined by survivors who came from other areas; in 1947 Cluj was home to 6,500 Jews. Prayers were held in three synagogues, and the community maintained a kosher butcher and canteen. A Jewish elementary school and a high school were reopened, and a vocational school was established to aid survivors in finding work. These institutions were closed in 1948, however, when the communist authorities imposed their own system of education on the populace. Eventually many of the community's Jews emigrated to Israel or other areas. By 1970 there were 1,100 Jews (340 families) remaining in Cluj. At the end of the 20th century the Jewish population had dropped by more than half, and the community had about 500 members.

our Open Databases
Jewish Genealogy
Family Names
Jewish Communities
Visual Documentation
Jewish Music Center
Place
אA
אA
אA
Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions
The Jewish Community of Turda

Turda

In German: Thorenburg; Hungarian: Torda

A town in south Transylvania, western central Romania.

Until the end of World War I within Hungary.

Jews began to settle there at the close of the 18th century although individual Jews had visited the locality earlier. A document of 1669 mentions a Jew of Alba Iulia who had stayed in Turda in order to sign an agreement with the local inhabitants. A community was organized between 1830 and 1840. There were already houses of prayer during that period. The community remained orthodox throughout its existence, but there were also many maskilim in Turda. The Jewish population numbered 48 families (175 persons) in 1866, 203 (2.1% of the total) in 1870; 326 (3.5%) in 1900; 482 (3.5%) in 1910, and 852 (4.2%) in 1930. The community, which was wealthy and well organized, employed some distinguished rabbis, among them Ben-Zion Albert Wesel (1900-38) and Joseph Adler (1938-44).

For most of the period between the two world wars these two rabbis also held the position of president of the central office of the organization of orthodox communities of Transylvania, and the community thus played a foremost role among orthodox Jewry in Transylvania. An orthodox Hungarian-language weekly, Hoemesz, was published in Turda from 1933 to 1940. A large synagogue was erected in 1932. Zionist activities were also organized, and there was a group of Jews which supported the Hungarian minority movement in Romania. A Jewish club, established in 1936, played an important part in Jewish life. There were 726 Jews in Turda (2.2% of the total population) in 1940. Their numbers increased to 1,805 in 1942 after Jews from the surrounding areas were concentrated in Turda by the Romanian Fascist authorities. From 1940 to 1944, because of the location of Turda near the Romanian-Hungarian border and within 18 miles (approx. 30 kms) Of Cluj, the capital of northern Transylvania, Jews of Turda played an important role in underground rescue activities among the Jewish population.

Members of the community collaborated with the representatives of the Zionist youth movements in contact with the rescue centers in Bucharest and Budapest and rescue workers in Palestine through their center in Istanbul. They organized secret routes for the transfer of refugees from neighboring Hungary to Romania, where the situation of the Jews was less dangerous, subsequently directing the refugees toward Bucharest, from where most of them reached Palestine. Hundreds of refugees passed along this escape route, most of them from Hungary, some from Slovakia, and even a number from Poland. In the fall of 1944, the town was taken by Hungarian forces. However, they were defeated by the Russians about five weeks later before they had succeeded in organizing the deportation of the local Jews.

After the war the community continued activities but its institutions lost their importance with the decline of the Jewish population as a result of emigration to Israel and elsewhere. There were about 150 Jews living in Turda in 1971. Prayers were still held in the great synagogue on Jewish festivals.

 

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Cluj Napoca
Romania
Alba Iulia

Cluj-Napoca

Commonly known as Cluj  - renamed Cluj-Napoca from Cluj in 1974
Yiddish: Kloyzenburg (קלויזענבורג)
Hungarian: Kolozsvar
German: Klausenburg

A city in northwest Romania. Cluj is the capital of Cluj County, and is traditionally considered to be the capital of Transylvania

Between 1790 and 1848, and 1861 and 1867, Cluj was the capital of Transylvania. The location of Cluj is roughly equidistant from Bucharest (201 miles/324km), Budapest (218 miles/351km), and Belgrade (200 miles/322km). Between 1867 and 1920, and between 1940 and 1945, Cluj was part of Hungary.

The Neolog synagogue is the only functioning synagogue left in Cluj, and serves the local Jewish community. It is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust.

A census conducted in 2002 indicated that there were 223 Jews living in Cluj.

HISTORY

A document from 1481 is the first evidence of a Jewish presence in Cluj. During the 16th and 17th centuries Jews attended the city's fairs, in spite of opposition from the local authorities. However, it was only in the late 18th century that Jews were permitted to settle in Cluj; during the 17th and 18th centuries any Jews who wanted to live in Transylvania were restricted to the town of Alba Iulia.

The census of 1780 records eight Jewish families as living in Cluj. Locals were not happy about having Jews in their city. In 1784 the municipal council prohibited the inhabitants from selling real estate to Jews. Lobel Deutsch, the first Jew who had been allowed to live in Cluj, had his shop closed by the authorities in 1790; when he protested his 11-year old daughter was kidnapped and forcibly baptized.

In spite of the struggles, a small number of Jews remained in Cluj and made their homes there. A prayer room was opened in 1807, and a small synagogue was built in 1818, at which point the community consisted of 40 people. A chevra kaddisha was founded in 1837.

In 1839 fifteen Jewish families were permitted to live in Cluj, but they were forbidden from hosting any other Jews from other areas. Nonetheless, before the Revolution of 1848 there were 58 Jewish families living n Cluj; the authorities had plans to expel 16 of them. With the outbreak and subsequent failure of the revolution, the Imperial Constitution of 1849 removed the residence restrictions imposed on the Jews of Transylvania, and granted them the right to purchase real estate.

As a result of the removal of various restrictions, the Jewish community of Cluj began to grow rapidly; by 1850 there were 479 Jews living in Cluj, and the population would continue to grow. The city's first synagogue was established in 1851; a year later Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein arrived to serve the community. Rabbi Lichtenstein did not serve for long; his opposition to modernism, as well as his conflicts with Transylvania's chief rabbi, Abraham Friedman, eventually led to his firing, and he left the city in 1854. He was succeeded in 1861 by Rabbi Feisch Fischman. Rabbi Abraham Glasner served the community from 1863 until 1877; he was opposed by proponents of the Hasidic movement, which was then gaining ground in the city. Glasner's son, Moshe Glasner, succeeded him in 1878; Mosher Glasner, in turn, was succeeded by his son, Akiva Glasner, who served from 1919 until the community's destruction in1944.

The religious schism that took place during and after the General Jewish Congress of Hungary (1868-1869) also affected the Jews of Cluj. An Orthodox community was maintained; those who did not want to identify as Orthodox were organized into the Status Quo community (a community that was neither Orthodox nor Neolog) in 1881; the Status Quo community subsequently became Neolog in 1884. The Neolog community established a synagogue in 1886, which was renovated in 1912. Alexander Kohut served as the Neolog community's first rabbi (1884-1885); he was succeeded by Rabbi Matyas Eisler (1891-1930), and Rabbi Moses Weinberger (1934-1944). The Hasidim established a separate communal organization in 1921 and was led by Rabbi Zalman Leib Halberstam.The Orthodox and Neolog communities each opened their own educational institutions. The Orthodox elementary school opened in 1875, while the Neolog community opened their school in 1908.

In 1866 there were 776 Jews living in Cluj; after the emancipation of 1869-1870 the city's Jewish population shot up to 3,008. By 1910 the population had more than doubled, with 7,046 Jews living in the city (11.6% of the total population).

Zionism became active in Cluj after World War I, and Cluj became a Zionist center within Transylvania. Uj Kelet, a lively and prominent Zionist weekly (it later became a daily newspaper), began to be published at the end of 1918. It had a large readership and became a major influence among the Jews of Transylvania and Romania. Uj Kelet was also the organ of the (principally Zionist) Jewish Party (Partidul Evreiesc); some of the party's local activists were elected to the Romanian Parliament. Cluj's local Jewish press was not limited to Zionism, however. During the interwar period approximately 20 newspapers were published in Cluj, on a variety of topics and in languages ranging from Yiddish to Hebrew to Hungarian.

A Tarbut high school was founded in Cluj in 1920; its director, Mark Antal, was a former director general of Hungary's Ministry of Education and Culture. The language of instruction was Hungarian, Romanian, and Hebrew. The Tarbut school operated until 1927, when it was closed by the Romanian authorities. Later, after Cluj was annexed by Hungary and Jewish children were prohibited from attending general schools, a Jewish high school was opened in October 1940 and functioned until the community's internment in the ghetto.

In 1930 there were 13,504 Jews living in Cluj (12.7% of the total population).

THE HOLOCAUST

After the 1940 Hungarian annexation, anti- Jewish measures and economic restrictions were imposed on Jews throughout the region. In 1942 most of the military-age men in Cluj were conscripted for forced labor and transported to the Nazi-occupied area of the Soviet Union, where many perished.

When the Germans occupied Hungary in the summer of 1944 the local Jews, 16,763 Jews from Cluj, Szamosujvar (Gherla) and the surrounding area were confined to a ghetto. They were deported to Auschwitz between May 25 and June 9, 1944, where most were killed.

POSTWAR

A number of survivors from Cluj returned to the city, and were joined by survivors who came from other areas; in 1947 Cluj was home to 6,500 Jews. Prayers were held in three synagogues, and the community maintained a kosher butcher and canteen. A Jewish elementary school and a high school were reopened, and a vocational school was established to aid survivors in finding work. These institutions were closed in 1948, however, when the communist authorities imposed their own system of education on the populace. Eventually many of the community's Jews emigrated to Israel or other areas. By 1970 there were 1,100 Jews (340 families) remaining in Cluj. At the end of the 20th century the Jewish population had dropped by more than half, and the community had about 500 members.

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

A city in Transylvania, Romania.

German and Jewish sources: Karlsburg, Carlsburg

Hungarian: Gyulafehérvár

Latin: Apulum

Ottoman Turkish: Erdel Belgradı, Belgrad-ı Erdel

Alba Iulia was the capital of the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom and the Principality of Transylvania between 1541 and 1690. It was administered by Hungary for several centuries, until after World War I (1914-1918), when it was annexed to Romania.

 

21ST CENTURY

On November 26, 2017 Alba Iulia’s historic Ashkenazi synagogue was rededicated, after undergoing a restoration process.

The Jewish cemetery is believed to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Transylvania, and among the oldest in Romania. It includes thousands of graves.

In 2003 there were 45 Jews remaining in Alba Iulia.

 

HISTORY

The first Jews to settle in Alba Iulia were Sefardim, who benefited from the patronage of the princes of Transylvania. A Hebrew document dating from 1591 mentions a beit din (Jewish court). Then, in 1623, at the insistence of Abraham Szasza, a Jewish physician from Constantinople who had been invited to settle in Alba Iulia, Prince Bethlen Gabor granted the Jews of Alba Iulia a number of residential and commercial privileges. The privileges were endorsed by the national assembly in 1627, and they proved to be strong enough that after 1653 Alba Iulia became the only place in Transylvania where Jews were permitted to live.

Prince Apaffi Mihaly I reaffirmed the privileges granted to the Jews of Alba Iulia in 1673, an act that was all the more significant for the fact that it occurred in the wake of a number of anti-Jewish riots. The charter was subsequently renewed a number of times.

In 1689 there were 12 Jewish families living in Alba Iulia. Records indicate that there were 54 Jewish families living in Alba Iulia in 1754.

Data from the census of 1735 demonstrates that the Jews living in Alba Iulia originated from
Poland, Turkey, Moldavia, Wallachia, Hungary, Moravia, and Belgrade. The mid-18th century also proved to be a turning point for the nature of Alba Iulia’s Jewish community, as the Ashkenazim began to dominate. Nevertheless, the community pinkas (minute book) for the period spanning 1736-1835, was written in a mixture of Hebrew, Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, German, and Hungarian, attesting to the community’s diversity.

Alba Iulia was eventually seen as the Jewish capital of Transylvania. The community judge was described as the "head of the Jewish people of the region." Between 1754 and 1868 the congregation’s rabbi held the title "Rabbi of Karlsburg and Chief Rabbi of the State."

Rabbis who served Alba Iulia’s Jewish community included the first known chief rabbi, the Sefardi Chacham Abraham Isaac Russo (d. 1738). Ezekiel Panet, served in Alba Iulia between 1823 and 1845. The last chief rabbi was Abraham Friedman.

After the religious schism that occurred in 1867, in the wake of the Hungarian Jewish Congress, the Jewish community of Alba Iulia declared itself as Status Quo Ante, affiliating neither with the Orthodox movement, nor with the Neologs. Nonetheless, an Orthodox congregation was founded in Alba Iulia in 1908. In 1932 the rest of the community chose to affiliate with the Orthodox movement.  

A Jewish newspaper, the Siebenbuerger Israelit, was published in Alba Iulia beginning in 1883. Construction on the synagogue was completed in 1886 after more than a century of negotiations and construction.

Beginning in 1927, with the rise of the anti-Semitic Iron Guard, life for the Jews of Alba Iulia became increasingly difficult. The Iron Guard destroyed the Ashkenazi synagogue in 1938.

In 1891 Alba Iulia’s Jewish population was 1,357. That number grew, and in 1910 it was 1,586 (out of a total population of 11,616). The Jewish population in 1920 was 1,770 (out of a total of 9,645). In 1930 there were 1,558 Jewish people living in Alba Iulia (out of a total population of 12,282).

 

THE HOLOCAUST

Alba Iulia’s Jewish community was subject to anti-Jewish legislation put into place by the Antonescu regime. The community’s property was confiscated in 1941.

During the war, the Jewish population of Alba Iulia increased, as the authorities sent Jews to the city from the surrounding areas. Heavy fighting in 1944 caused an additional influx of refugees.

 

POSTWAR

In 1947 there were 2,070 Jews living in Alba Iulia. However, by the 1960s this number had decreased dramatically, due chiefly to immigration.

In 1980 the Communist government demolished the synagogue.

 

WESEL
WESEL

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 toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

Wesel/Vesel means "merry" in Slavic languages.

As a family name it could have links with the Moravian town called Veseli/Wesseli or the west German town of Wesel on the right bank of the Rhine. Some of its variants can be associated with Weiss, the German for "white", a nickname for persons with white hair, beard or skin. Weiss is recorded as a Jewish family name in 1197 in Wuerzburg, Germany, with Samuel Weiss, also known as Albus. Weisel is documented as a Jewish family name in the early 18th century with Loebel Hirsch Weisel of Prague, Bohemia, who attended the Leipzig (Germany) fairs in the years 1711-1716, and was also known as Weiselitz. Veisel is recorded as a Jewish family name during World War II with deportees taken from France to the death camp at Auschwitz in 1942- 1944.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Wesel include the 17th century Amsterdam, Netherlands printer Moses Wesel; the 18th century German Rabbi Baruch Bendet Ben Reuben Wesel (Benedict Reuben Gomperz), who was born in Wesel on the Rhine; and the 20th century Transylvanian rabbi of Turda (Romania) Ben Zion Albert Wesel.