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Romania's Jewish Heritage
Romania is a country with a rich Jewish heritage.
In fact, Jews probably first arrived along with the Roman legions who invaded Dacia (today’s Romania) in 101 A.D.

During the Middle Ages Jewish immigrants began settling in Wallachia and Moldavia. By the early 16th century, their numbers once again swelled by the arrival of immigrants (Ashkenazim Jews) fleeing persecution from Cossack uprisings in Poland and Ukraine. During the region’s domination by the Turks, the Romanian Jewish community evolved into a prosperous middle class in charge of much of the country’s trade.

The modern story of Romania’s Jews mirrors the experience of other Eastern European Jewish communities: a dynamic cultural and spiritual life in the face of recurrent periods of anti-Semitism. After World War I, when Transylvania joined Wallachia and Moldavia to form present day Romania, the country’s Jewish population increased from about 240,000 to about 750,000 virtually overnight. After World War II, emigration to Israel and other countries left fewer than 20,000.

Today visitors will find poignant reminders of Romania’s Jewish heritage and their own Jewish roots. The country is unique in Eastern and Central Europe for its scores of well-maintained synagogues and cemeteries in use by Jewish communities scattered throughout Romania.

Romanian synagogues are of several types. Bucharest's synagogues have a Moorish style.
In Transylvania, architectural styles resemble those of their Hungarian counterparts: impressive and elaborately decorated synagogues dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   In Moldavia, folk-style synagogues are unadorned on the outside but highly decorated inside with native paintings and lavish wood carving.

Choral Temple Synagogue, Bucharest

Jewish heritage places of interest:
Bucharest:  the Choral Temple (1845),
the Great Synagogue, Yeshua Tova Synagogue, the Jewish Museum.

Sighet Marmatiei:  (the birthplace of
1986 Nobel Prize winner, writer Elie Wiesel) the Great Synagogue.

Iasi:  The Great Synagogue (1670);
the Jewish History Museum; home of the world's first Yiddish Theatre (1876).

Jewish Community Centers:
Bucharest:   9-11 Sfanta Vineri St.
Tel: (40-1)313.25.38

Iasi:  15 Elena Doamna St.
Tel: (40-32)114.414

Satu Mare:  4 Decebal St.
Tel: (40-61)743.783

Jewish Theatre has a tradition of 120 years in Romania. Documents attest that in 1876 the artist and writer Avram Goldfaden laid the foundation of the first Jewish professional theatre worldwide in Iasi. The first decades were very difficult; the precarious financial conditions impeded the building of a constant team of actors with a permanent headquarters. But these obstacles did not hinder the artistic development of the Jewish Theatre, which could count on the support of large artists' circles.

In 1948 the Bucharest State Jewish Theatre was created, offering a mixture of traditional and modern theatre. The repertoire includes plays from Jewish, Romanian and international drama. Its permanant base is the Playhouse of the Jewish Theatre. The auditorium has 300 seats and a system of simultaneous translation from Yiddish and other languages into Romanian. The staff is made up of 100 persons of which 26 are actors, all of them graduates of the Institute of Dramatic Arts. Performances are directed in Yiddish language, proof that the Yiddish language and spirituality can be adopted in good faith by all those who believe in art and in its role as preserver of traditions. The company has toured in Israel, the USA, Canada, Russia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Greece.

For information:
Theatre address: Str. Dr. Juliu Barasch 15, Bucharest Romania
Tel: (40-1) 323.45.30   Fax: (40-1) 323.27.46
E-mail :   (public relations)    or   (information)
Theatre Director: Harry Eliad, Tel: (40-1) 675.49.56;   E-mail :

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