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Temesvar-Timisoara

 

Timisoara, a city bordering the Balkan states in the Banat region of Transylvania, was first settled by Turkish Sephardi Jews. In later centuries, German culture became predominant. In 1762, both Sephardi and Ashkenazi synagogues were built. In 1865 the imposing Citadel Synagogue was built by the Ashkenazi Jews, who soon after declared themselves as Neologs.


An Orthodox community was established soon after and in 1906 they built the Moorish style Josefin Synagogue. Center researchers documented both synagogues together with a few collections of ritual objects. Approximately 500 Jews remain of this still active Jewish community, most of whom are middle-aged or elderly.
 

bulletLowy M., Skizzen zur Geschichte der Juden in Temesvar bis Jahre 1865. Szeged 1890.
bulletSinger Jakab, Temesvari rabbik a XVIII. es XIX. szazadban. Seini (Szinervar-alja) 1928.

(Hung., Temesvar), city in southwestern Romania in the area of Transylvania, near the Yugoslav border. Timisoara was under Hungarian rule until 1918 and thereafter under Romanian rule. Jews first established a community there in 1739. During the nineteenth century, they initiated the industrialization of the city. In 1930, 9,368 Jews lived in Timisoara, comprising about 10 percent of the city's population. After World War I, antisemitism increased there, especially in the second half of the 1930s. In 1936, members of the Iron Guard threw a bomb into an audience during a Jewish theater performance, killing two. Ritual slaughter was outlawed in 1938, and in 1939 some 1,000 Jews were deprived of their Romanian citizenship. In July 1941, the Jews throughout southern Transylvania were moved from small villages to larger cities. Thousands of Jews, lacking almost everything, reached Timisoara, swelling the Jewish population to 11,788. On August 4, all the Jewish males between the ages of eighteen and fifty were taken to forced - labor camps. The Jewish community obtained provisions for them and also worked to have men released. Many were let go or were at least sent to work near Timisoara. During 1941 and 1942, most of the buildings owned by the Jewish community were confiscated by the Romanian authorities.

Averting Deportation.

In the summer of 1942, it became known to the leaders of the Jewish community that plans had been made to deport the Jews from southern Transylvania. The leader of the Timisoara Jewish community, Shmuel Ligeti, contacted Jewish leaders in Bucharest. They intervened with government officials to avert the move, and the deportation order was rescinded. During 1944, local Germans (Volksdeutsche) tried to intensify anti - Jewish activity in Timisoara, but with little success.

Hungarian Jewish Refugees.

Beginning in 1943, many Jews from Hungary who had fled to Romania reached Timisoara. This flight reached its peak in the spring and summer of 1944, with Timisoara as one of the main crossing points on the Hungarian - Romanian frontier. When Romania withdrew from the Axis on August 23, the flow of refugees virtually ceased.

Mortality.

About 100 Jews from Timisoara were deported to Transnistria and met their death there, and among the draftees to labor camps some also died. Most of the community, however, lived to see the Soviet army enter the city in September 1944.

Postwar.

In 1947, 13,600 Jews were living in Timisoara, but by 1971 only 3,000 remained, many having emigrated to Israel or moved to other Jewish centers in Romania.

Courtesy of:
"Encyclopedia of the Holocaust"
1990 Macmillan Publishing Company
New York, NY 10022

 

Jewish history of Romania

Among the most popular Yiddish hits in America was one which reminisced about life in the old country: "Romania, Romania, Romania!" Written by Aaron Lebedeff, a star of the Yiddish stage, and arranged by the well-known cantor Sholom Secunda, "Romania" remains a beloved hit. Throughout the Diaspora, despite the bitter hardships to which Jews were subject, they could still be sentimental about their old homes. "Once there was a beautiful land-Romania! Life was so good! No cares, just wine, mamaligeh (Romanian porridge),beautiful girls, and merriment!"

Romania is a country with a rich Jewish Heritage. The first Jews are believed to have arrived along with the Roman legions who invaded Dacia (today's Romania) in 101 AD. During the Middle Ages, Jewish immigrants began settling in Wallachia and Moldova. By the early 16th Century, their numbers once again swelled by the arrival of immigrants (Ashkenazim Jews) fleeing persecution in Poland and Ukraine. During the next two centuries the Romanian Jewish Community evolved into a prosperous middle class in charge of much of the country's trade. The modern history of Romania's Jews mirrors the experience of other European Jewish communities; a dynamic cultural and spiritual life in the face of recurrent periods of anti-Semitism. After 1948 emigration to Israel and other countries significantly reduced the number of Jews living in Romania.

Today visitors will find poignant reminders of Romania's Jewish Heritage along with their own Jewish roots. Romania is home to more than 800 Synagogues and several cemeteries. Most Synagogues are still used by the local Jewish communities scattered throughout the country. Jewish Heritage sites of particular interest are located in the following cities: Bucharest, Arad, Bacau, Baia Mare, Botosani, Brasov, Campulung Moldovenesc, Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Dorohoi, Galati, Iasi, Oradea, Piatra Neamt, Roman, Satu Mare, Sighetu Marmatiei, Timisoara, Targu Mures and Targu Neamt.

One of the most prominent names in contemporary Jewish history is Elie Wiesel, who was born in Sighetu Marmatiei, Maramures. His childhood home is being restored, but is not yet open to visitors. Nearby is the community's 19th Century Synagogue.

Bucharest's Synagogues include the Choral Temple, built in 1857, still serving Bucharest's small Jewish community (it is noted for its magnificent Moorish turrets, choir loft and organ) and the Great Synagogue, dating from 1850, which now houses the Jewish History Museum with its remarkable centerpiece sculpture of a mourning woman (open Wednesday and Sunday).

Jassy, headquarters of Hacham Bashim in the 17th Century and one of the great European centers of Jewish learning during the 19th Century, has one remaining Synagogue, the Great Synagogue, built in 1671. It is no longer in use, but serves as a museum, open by appointment. Satu Mare's Great Synagogue, built in 1920, is still in use.

In Oradea, three imposing Synagogues remain from when this city was an important center of Romanian Jewish life.

In Satu Mare the birthplace of Satmar Hasidim the community of just 80 Jewish families keeps up its magnificent Synagogue, whose interior walls are completely covered with frescoes depicting biblical scenes.

 
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Copyright 2003 Comunitatea Evreilor din Timisoara
Last modified:
Tuesday July 15, 2003