The Ploiesti Synagogue (1901) was renovated this year with the help of an American sponsor who was born in Ploiesti. Before the Second World War, Ploiesti supported about 10,000 jews. In the Hebrew community today there remain 41 jews, with another 46 members of the community born of mixed marriages.
Jews appear in the official records of the Bistritian region at the end of the 18th century. The population continued to grow and was at its greatest in the period between the world wars.
In consequence of this, in 1856, the ‘Great Synagogue’ was built in the town of Bistrita. Created in the ‘ashkenazi’ style, with an edifice of great architectural distinction, the building and was renowned at the time as an important local and national monument.
The synagogue is one of seven in Romania that are more than one hundred years old. Restoration work was begun on the edifice in 2001 and continues today on the exterior of the building.
In 2005 an act of free loan was signed covering a period of 20 years with the Bistrita Concert Society, giving it approval to have concerts of classical music, poetry readings, book launches and exhibitions of photography, sculpture and painting in the great hall and on the balcony.
Every week from 2007 there is a cultural event featuring numerous musicians and painters.
The necessary restoration funds were donated in part by a group of American Jewish citizens with origins in Bistrita, as well as a contribution from the director of the Bistrita Concert Society, Mr. Gavrile Tarmure, who had applied for European funding in this respect.
Through the sustained contribution of all those who wish that the Bistrita Synagogue recaptures the brightness of the old days, we hope that in 2010 the work will be finished on this distinguished and beautiful edifice.
Text supplied through the goodwill of the Bistrita Jewish Community: president, Mr. Fredi Deac.
“We have a synagogue that cannot be seen anywhere else in Europe” said Joseph David, the president of the Jewish community in Botosani. The Great Synagogue at Botosani – Oiche Shul – was constructed in 1834. There were 72 synagogues in the Botosani area during the sixties and the Jewish population was one of the largest. Many emigrated, however, and the population currently stands at around 110 members.
In the middle of the19th century, Isac Fridman, the Buhusi rabbi, founded a rabbinical court by building a house and a synagogue that still stands today, and remains one of the oldest, a hundred and forty seven years having passed since its construction.
Within the five thousand four hundred meter squared area of the court, there was a rabbinical school and ritual baths. The precincts today cover an area of one thousand five hundred and sixteen meters squared. Hasdic pilgrims come there from all over the world every Autumn for the Jewish holiday.
The Buhusi synagogue was renovated with money invested by the ADMOR association from Israel. Three jewish inhabitants remain in the town. The synagogue and jewish cemetery remain under the patrimony of the local council.
The Cluj Temple of the Deported was built between 1886 – 1887 in the Maurish style, following designs of the railways engineer Izidor Hegner and it was inaugurated on the 4th of September 1887. The facade combines traditional elements with those of oriental inspiration.
In 2004 the Temple was included on the list of historical monuments from county Cluj. It was seriously damaged by Romanian fascists on the 13th of September 1927 and it was restored with the financial support of the Romanian Gouvernment.
After the Vienna Dictate (1949), when the North of Transylvania was occupied by Hungary, the Hortyst authorities transformed the synagogue into a depot. Following the Jewish deportations the synagogue was damaged on the 2nd of June 1944 by the nearby railway station bombardments. The synagogue was rebuilt in 1947. The restoration works were made in 1951. The synagogue is dedicated today to the victims of Holocaust.
At present, the Temple of the Deported is one of the five existing synagogues in the city and it is the only one that still holds religious services.
The Jewish settlement in Targu Neamț dates from the second half of the seventeenth century. Jews are first mentioned in a document from 1685, and the oldest tombstones in the Jewish cemetery date back to 1677 and 1689. A synagogue was built in 1737.
By 1940, nine synagogues were active in the town.
In 1947, some 2,900 Jews lived in Targu Neamt. Their numbers then diminished due to emigration, mainly to Israel. By 1992, just 34 Jews lived there; and in 2004 there were 30 out of 22,396 inhabitants. Today only 15 remain but there is yet a functioning synagogue.
Built in 1870, the Targu Neamt Craftsmen’s Synagogue is today a modest building, hidden between residential blocks and bearing the Star of David on its window shutters. It is the only remaining synagogue in Targu Neamt.
Located at the Oituz Street no 4, this is the last of the 8 synagogues which were in use in Focsani. The Jewish community of Focsani dates back at least to the second half of the seventeenth century.
A synagogue was built in 1896 on the location of one that had been destroyed in an earthquake two years earlier.
On the eve of World War II, Focsani was home to eight synagogues, two primary schools, a kindergarten, a polyclinic, and a mikveh.
After World War II, some 2,000 Jewish refugees settled in Focsani, and the community had 6,080 members in 1947. By 1994, there were only 80 Jews left in Focsani, in 2004 just 43 and in 2011 are only 31 Jewish people.
The Great Synagogue of Iasi is the oldest surviving Jewish prayer house in Romania and the second oldest synagogue in Europe.
It was founded in 1671, reportedly at the initiative of Rabbi Nathan ben Moses Hannover, religious leader of Iasi’s Jewish community in the 1660s and author of the Yeven Mezullah.
Located on Synagogues Street in the old Jewish neighborhood of Targu Cucului, the synagogue was built in an eclectic style with strong late baroque influences. Since its foundation in the second half of the 17th century, the Great Synagogue has undergone a number of major renovations.
The Synagogue, a valued Romanian architectural monument, was built in 1850, when the Jewish people constituted over 30 percent of the population of Roman. It has been restored with funds from across the world. The Jewish community today has about 50 members, all in advanced years.
Approximately 150 Jewish people remain in Piatra Neamt today, which is roughly the same number as existed in 1766 when the wooden synagogue was built. In 1927 half the population was Jewish (about 13000 people) and there were more than 20 working synagogues in the town.
Today there are two synagogues on Piatra Neamt. The Baal Shem Tov Synagogue is subterranean and 245 years old. The Leipziger Temple is tall and imposing, and 113 years old (constructed in 1898).
The only wooden Synagogue in Europe is to be found in Piatra Neamt, one of the oldest places of Jewish worship on the continent. It was re-opened on the 14th of December, 2009.
The Cathederal Synagogue of Piatra Neamt – Baal Shem Tov – was constructed in wood in 1766 and is a historic monument, with architecture inspired from local tradition and from the wooden architecture of Bohemia and Poland.
Outside the town can be found an ancient Jewish cemetery, divided into two sectors, one very old, with crypts from the 19th century and a relatively more modern one, with crypts from after 1900.
It has a well updated register for viewing the graves and is visited by relatives and others wishing to find people who once lived and died in Piatra Neamt. It is closed on Saturday, the day on which community services take place at the synagogue.
The Great Temple was constructed in the period between 1889 and 1892, in the Moorish style, following plans laid down by the architect Nandor Bach (1842-1905).
It resembles the general plan for synagogues in Oradea and Dej, having 846 places and being endowed from the beginning with an organ. It is a two floor building.
In 1927 the “Saare Tora” synagogue was built next to the Great Temple and in a different style. With the temple in the Moorish style, the new synagoge (and the prayer house) are in the Baroque style. This makes for a large interior volume. The walls are simply decorated.
Each of the two buildings, the one next to the other, have different functions: the synagogue is exclusively a house of worship while the temple can be used for a diverse range of cultural activites.
As there has been no rabbi in Satu Mare since 1982 the religious ceremonies are conducted by different officials from the community members. The Satu Mare Holocaust Memorial was created in 2004, in a court next to Decebal street.
A commemorative plaque listing the names of jews killed in the extermination camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau was unveiled on the 12th of June 2005.
After the war approximately 500 jews returned to the town, their numbers swelled also by jews from other places, so that by 1947 their numbers approached 5000. Their numbers dropped after the beginning of the communist regime, when permission was granted for emigration to Israel. Following the exodus a census in 1992 registered only 205 jews remaining in the Satu Mare region of which 52 lived in the town of Satu Mare itself.
The chief rabbi, Dr. Moses Rosen, commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the jewish deportations in 1984.
Satu Mare was one of the most important rabbinical centers in Transilvania, the Hasidic Szatmar dynasty being one of the best known dynasties. Joel Teitelbaum, the chief rabbi in New York after the second world war, belonged to this dynasty.
The Sibiu Great Synagogue was built between 1898 – 1899.
Owing to the small number of worshipers, the Sibiu Synagogue has not been usesd as an official house of worship since the early 1990s. It has since only been functioning as a historic monument and tourist attraction. Even so, concerts and art exhibitions have been held there.
To protect the building from ruin, the 23 jews remaining in Sibiu, who between them share an age of roughly 60 years, often gather for prayer in the courtyard of the temple.
Sibiu has not had a rabbi for several years, and the only person remaining with a working knowledge of the scriptures is aged 82.
The Jewish Community in Sighet has existed since the beginning of the 17th century. The first synagogue was built in 1780 with the agreement of Emperor Josef II. The Jewish Community developed and before WWII became the majority in Sighet: 11.026 inhabitants (46,5%) in 1920 and 10.600 (38,9%) in 1930.
Today, out of two temples, six synagogues ad 13 prayer houses only the Vijniter Klaus Temple is left. It was built in 1885, rebuilt, repaired and restored in 1936, 1950, 1970 and 1981. The interior is mostly Baroque and Romantic.
The Sighisoara Synagogue
The Sighisoara Synagogue was constructed in 1903, when more the town contained over one hundred Jewish inhabitants. By 1956 that number had risen to two hundred and seventeen. After this, the amount declined through emmigration so that by 1966 only thirty-five remained, ten in 1977 down to two remaining in 1992, one in 2007 and none remaining today. The last religious service in the synagogue was heard in 1984. From that time and until his death at a venerable old age, the building was looked after by Erich Raducan. The doors of the Sigisoara synagogue were re-opened on Thursday, August 23rd, 2007, after more than 20 years.
The Vatra Dornei Synagogue, in the county of Suceava, was constructed in the second half of the nineteenth century (1898 – 1902) by a strong jewish community in the town, which today can only count 8 remaining among its number.
It is not functioning today, though planned by the Ministry of culture to be put to re-use, as a religious center or a museum. Despite the continuing degradation, it remains a spectacular building, though the necessity of repairs is very important. The synagogue can be viewed from three sides, only in the exterior.