Jewish history of Moldova

Introduction

People move to the big city, leave for other countries and often lose the connection with their past. Thus, the next generation already does not know anything about how and where their ancestors lived.

Jewish town (an Yiddish shtetl) as a substantial part of distinctive Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe unique culture dates back several centuries. It was the times of shoemakers and milkmen, blacksmiths and furriers. Here in the thick yeast-filled life cycle full of doubts and unwavering faith, in the brutal environment of persecution and dislike, here there were trailed yarns of millions of Jewish lives.

The uniqueness of this parochial routine gave birth to the originality of tunes and songs, specific juicy Yiddish language, particularly individual and specific architectural elements. These manifestations of culture expressed real thoughts, hopes, and feelings of people, sometimes desperately sad, sometimes recklessly funny and sometimes even tenderly romantic.

If you look closely at the walls of old synagogues, often-nameless tombstones, you may hear notes of nostalgia for bygone world that was an essential part of our grandparents’ lives; you can learn something unbelievably close, beckoning, and native. As we have heard and learned, when we went on the broken streets of Rashkov, Briceni or Zguritsa. We remembered the stories told by our parents about these towns, we have things that seemed so distant, fabulous and unprecedented when we were kids.

[1]

 

  • Until the XIX century

    Moldova (Romanian. Moldova) - one of the Danubian principalities of Wallachia constituted a part of the Kingdom of Romania.

    Jews have lived for a long time on the territory of Moldova. They arrived to ancient Dacia in the Ist century AD. Jews were mostly living in urban areas. It is known that the Dacian King Decebalus gave the Jews some privileges in the city of Talmusa (according to some sources, Jews had founded this city). Many Jews came together with the Romans. But, according to the version of a Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga, the majority of Jews left these places during the barbarian invasions. Anyway, Jewish names are founded in the charters of the first Moldavian rulers belonging to the XIV-XV centuries. Although located at the crossroads of important trade routes, this land from the ancient time was attractive to Jewish merchants, as it is mentioned in the documents of the XII century.

    Document of 1574 establishes the fact of existence of Jewish life in Moldova during the reign of Roman I (1391-1394) and Alexander the Kind (1401-1433); both these rulers issued the documents that entitled Jews to live everywhere, as well as use some other benefits.

    During the reign of Stephen the Great (1457-1504) in Suceava, then the capital of Moldova, were Jews who traded cattle. Stefan the Greatest had a quartermaster, he was Jewish, named Isaac ben Benjamin Shor, who was elevated to the rank Logofet.

    At the beginning of the XVI century Jewish population of Moldova has become noticeably intensified due to immigration from Poland and Germany. Stephen Young, who was dreaming to populate Moldova by Christians, not Jews, began to provide first Christians emigrating mainly from Lvov with all sorts of benefits, while Petru Rares already begun introducing legal restrictions on Jews, who like the Armenians had to give up their horses.

    In 1579 Peter the Lame expelled the Jews from Moldova; exile, however, was short-termed and in any case under Stephen Tomsha IInd (1612) Jews once again began to settle down in Moldova. Although the ruler of Immanuel-Aron entered the Moldovan throne, with strong support from the Jewish diplomat Solomon Ashkenazi and as many people were claiming he himself was of the Jewish origin, he was extremely cruel to the Jews.

    Before the appearance of Bogdan Khmelnytsky Cossacks (1648) in Moldova, local ruler Vasile Lupul, uttering some general restrictions for Jews, however, treated Jews favorably. But under the influence of Cossack different atrocities and Jews beating in has been started in Moldova, these atrocities were renewed in 1652, when Moldova was hosting the son of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, who came to propose to the daughter of Vasile Lupul; that was the time when many Jews have emigrated from Moldova. However, this was the time when Jews appeared in many different regions of Moldova, places where they previously did not live, it states that at the same time as there was a big emigration a lot of new settlements occurred on the territory of Moldova. That was the same time when Jewish people started being organized into the communities headed by Chacham-basha (haham-bascha), appointed by the Rulers of the country and whose authority went beyond ruling the Jews of Moldova only, he was also responsible for Wallachia.

    Chacham-basha had a lot of different privileges, his functions were secular rather than of a religious nature, but in most cases he was appointed from famous rabbis; under his supervision there were appointed his representatives in each important community, those representatives were called vekie haham bacha. In addition to representatives, there were also notables, appointed on the recommendation of Chacham-basha by the rules of the country. At this time in Moldova a significant number of Jews has been living; it is evident from the fact that Sabbatai Zevi secretaries were Moldovan Jews, as well as there were any Moldovans among the Hasidim & Francos.

    Sulzer asserts (Geschichte des Transalpinischen Daciens, II, 150) that in the middle of the XVIII century in Moldova there were no cities or a significant place where there would be no Jewish community; this is indicated by a large number of rabbis and dayans in Moldova during the transmitting of Bukovina to Austria.

    Census 1803 established 4,000 Jews taxpayers that, of course, was not entirely accurate, since communities were likely to conceal the true number of Jews, able to pay taxes, however, many people consider this figure exaggerated; in 1775 throughout Moldova there was a total number of 70 thousand contributors.

    Census 1803 indicates that there were Jews living in all 24 Moldovan cities, as well as in many villages and towns. A significant number of Jews were pâmânteni, ie natives and not foreigners, as the Romanian government claimed it, thus violating the decision of the Berlin Congress. Settled emigrants were easily accepted into the number of pâmânteni, who in comparison with foreign Jews enjoyed serious privileges. [1], [2], [3]

  • XIX century

    When Bessarabia in 1812 was annexed to Russia, it was included into the Pale of Settlement, and many Jews settled there were coming from other places of pale of settlements.

    By the time of the Russian authorities arrival in 1812, in Bessarabia its permanent Jewish community, already numbered about 20,000 people. There were 16 Jewish schools with 2100 students, and 70 synagogues. The region has become a center of literature written in Hebrew and Yiddish.

    The Jewish population was mainly concentrated in Chisinau, its suburbs and in the northern part of the region & it has increased from 43,062 people in 1836 to 228 620 people (11.8% of total population) in 1897. Russian legislation against Jews initially was not applicable as Bessarabia retained autonomous status. Thanks to the special status of Bessarabia, Jews were not affected by some of the most restrictive laws issued in the first half of the 19th century.

    In 1835 the Russian legislation against Jews became fully applicable to the Bessarabian Jews. In the second half of the 19th century the restriction of the right of residence in the border areas acquired a special significance for the Jews of Bessarabia. Due to The Paris Treaty of 1856, the southern part of Bessarabia was annexed by the Ottoman Empire and was incorporated into the autonomous principality of Moldova, so as a result many places, including Chisinau became border areas. However, the restrictions were not applied that strictly, and thousands of Jews continued to live in Bessarabia, although decrees of Jews expulsion were printed in 1869, 1879, 1886 and 1891.

    "May Laws" issued in 1882 ("Interim Rules") seriously affected the Jews of Bessarabia, as a substantial part of their living in the villages; they were driven out of the countryside.

    Encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron states that:

    Russian government fount here long settled Jews, who due to the "Charter of Bessarabia region creation" of 1818, had a special "status", those abovementioned had to be the part of the following classification: Merchant, philistine or agricultural, had to pay taxes and duties as all the other population and along with gypsies Jews imposed only one restriction- they were excluded from the category of persons to enjoy the right to work in public service.

    On the other hand, the statute stipulated that "the privileges given to them (Jews) from the Moldavian rulers, will be fully kept" (until 1854 the area was controlled as a special locality, but not due to the general system of institutions & provinces).

    However, all the benefits were soon violated:

    in 1842, Jews were forbidden to buy out the land cultivated by free settlers from its owners -landlords and "Rezes";

    Curious fact is that due to the laws and customs of Moldova, baptized Jews were exempted from payment of all taxes and duties for their lifetime, but the law of November 28, 1830 replaced it by a three-year benefit. Russian Jews generally speaking were not forbidden to settle in Bessarabia, while the Jews, subjected by the order of 1829, arriving from Sevastopol & Nikolaev to settle in Bessarabia, already in 1830 were granted, as an exception to the general rule, the ability to use the benefits on duties payment, granted by local cities (1855 preferential: merchants of the Ist grade - 7, IInd - 15, IIIrd grade of - 58).

    In 1838 there was established another special privilege for Jewish doctors living in Bessarabia. Here, as an exception adopted also in NovoRossia, they could have entered the public service.

    However, at the same time the government persistently denied a right to live here to the Austrian Jews who enjoyed it in the 40s. Then they had a right to stay only near the border, rather than inside the country. Application of the Austrian representative of 1846 asking to make an exception for Austrian Jews from Odessa and surrounding areas, who were exporting cattle, wool and fat abroad - was not satisfied.

    In 1858, against the wishes of local authorities, the State Council has kept the allowance for the Jews to be attorneys of Rezes Christians.

    Jews were living not only in cities but also in the counties; however, there existed villages where Jews were forbidden to stay (Second Full Code of Laws № 7905). However, the number of places open to the residence of the Jews has probability increased when, in 1838, there was allowed transformation of the villages into boroughs, granting Jews with the right to settle within.

    In 1839 the law of 1825 prescribing banishing of Jews (with some exceptions) from the areas situated less than 50 miles from the border line was distributed in Bessarabia as well. Act of 1858, was used to mitigate this measure.

    In 1846 there was issued an order to provide census of Jews in 1847 and 1848. (in fact it took place in 1848 and 1849., and next specialized Jewish census took place in 1853). This order also prescribed recruiting Jews to execute official military obligations starting from the next recruiting campaign, so starting from the next western territories recruitment campaign recruited Jews as well as the other parts of population.

    By 1847 Jewish population constituted 20232 people and 5751 families (Table No. 1).

    The following information presented by the governor to the Ministry of internal affairs in 1864 is available. ( Table No. 2).

    See also Berg L.S. Ethnographic map of Bessarabia. 1924.

    Current county of Ismail, that became part of Moldova in 1856, was returned to Russia in 1878, then local Jews who failed to take the oath at a certain date, were in trouble as Russian authorities demanded their removal as foreign nationals while the Romanian government also did not allow them to stay as no longer were citizens of Romania. On this occasion, the Senate explained in 1892 that the 1878 oath there was not scheduled an exact term, thus all of the Jews whose belonging to the local population can be stated with the certain proofs should from now on be considered Russian citizens.

    In the newly attached plot Jews were suffering from all sorts of restraints proclaimed by the law of 1858 including restrictions to live on a territory that was more then 50 miles closer to the border line of the country, the only Jews whose right for living on this territory was acclaimed were the Jews mentioned in a Romania “rolls” (census lists of 1856). It is important to remember that those census lists included just a part of the Romanian population, thus many Jews became subjects of different types of harassments and evictions.

    Economic and spiritual life

    During the 19th century economic structure of the Bessarabian Jewry remained almost unchanged. Jews and their traditional occupations played a important role in the economy of the area. It is interesting to mention, however, that a significant number of Jews became engaged in agriculture. In the period 1836-53 there were established 17 Jewish agricultural settlements, mainly in the northern regions of Bessarabia. In 185 in those villages there were living 10 859 Jews, thus 12.5% of Bessarabian Jewry was engaged in farming. Yet most of the villages were eventually eliminated, especially after the publication of the "Provisional Regulations". Generally, since the beginning of 1880-s economic situation of Bessarabian Jewry deteriorated as a result of periodic expulsions from villages and border locations, and because of the agrarian crisis in Russia. Many impoverished Jews immigrated to America.

    According to the data of 1898 Jewish Colonization Association report:

    Out of 38 factory enterprises in Chisinau 29 belonged to Jews. Jews owned four printing houses out of the five existing in the city. Among the Jewish population crafts sewing and woodworking production were especially developed. Chisinau Jews were engaged in agricultural products trade, textiles and clothing, fishing. Jews were porters and stevedores, seasonal workers at vineyards.

    In 1812 in Chisinau there was build the Big Synagogue, some time later there was opened a Jewish hospital, and in 1838 - the first Jewish school with a broad general education program. In 1858, along with two State-owned Jewish schools & one private women school there were 46 heders, and since 1860 there was a Hasidic yeshiva, one of the first in the south of Russia. In 1867, in Chisinau was a home for more than 18 thousand Jews. Beside the synagogue there were 28 houses of worship. By 1897, the Jewish population of the city was already about 50 thousand people thus constituting 45.9% of the total population of Chisinau.

    The main factor of the Jewish spiritual life was Hasidism. The greatest influence of the kind belonged to the Tzaddikim from Friedmans and Tversky families. 1830-40s. in Bessarabia were ther years when Haskalah penetrated and started spreading. At the end of the 1840s there were opened state Jewish schools. There were opened also private Jewish schools, and later many of the Jews of Bessarabia, especially the wealthy ones, started sending their children into mainstream schools. After the riots (pogroms) of the 1880s that overwhelmed southern Russia, here in Bessarabia, as in many other places there were founded Hovevei Zion groups; the most significant & powerful of them was in Chisinau. In the late 1880-s and early 1890-s there was founded a movement for the establishment of Jewish settlements in Eretz Yisrael. Delegates from Bessarabia attended the inaugural meeting of the Odessa Committee Hovevei Zion (April 1890). [1], [3], [4]

  • ХХ century. Kishinev pogroms (massacres)

    By the beginning of 20th century economic differences between Jewish and other communities in Moldova has been considerably visualized. Part of Jewish youth joined the revolutionary movement. In Moldova, there has appeared an anti-Semitic newspaper called "Bessarabets."

    Under the of the directions from Tsar’s Russian Empire during the Easter days, April 6-7, 1903, there were murdered 49 Jews and about 500 were injured, hundreds of Jewish homes and shops were badly damaged during the riots that took place in Chisinau. About 2,000 Jewish families were left homeless.

    The news the pogrom has swept across Europe, and thousands of Moldovan Jews were forced to emigrate. The United States reacted to this event by a public condemnation of Russia and the introduction of trade sanctions.

    In Chisinau, the second massacre in the Jewish community took place on October 19th – 20th 1905, during this pogrom 19 Jews were killed and 56 were wounded. At this time, some Jews have organized vigilante groups to protect their community. Famous poem Be-Ir ha-Haregah (The city of massacre), authored by - Haim Nahman Bialik, was written after the second massacre of the Jewish community in Chisinau. Проверьте пожалуйста. Он был после погрома 1903 года в Кишиневе!!!!

    Jews were running from the Russian Empire to United States, Palestine, Argentina with the serious share of Bessarabian Jews within.

    You can find out some additional information about the Chisinau pogrom of 1903   from our photo & quotes exhibitions (Russian and Romanian).

  • ХХ century. As a part of Romania

    Between the first and second world wars, the history of Jews in our country has developed along two parallel scenarios.

    After inclusion of Bessarabia to Romania in 1918, Jews acquired Romanian citizenship automatically in accordance with the commitments assumed by Romania due to the Paris Treaty. However, with the adoption of the law on naturalization in 1924, many Jews of Bessarabia, which did not satisfy the requirements of the law, have been deprived of Romanian citizenship and defined as people who are not entitled to enjoy the rights of citizenship.

    According to a calculation of 1920, in Bessarabia there were living 267 thousand Jews. In this period, Jews were allowed to open primary and secondary schools both in Hebrew and in Yiddish. By 1922 in Bessarabia, there were about 140 Jewish schools as well as 13 Jewish hospitals and nursing homes.

    Jews here experienced the hostile attitude of the autochthon population and suffered from anti-Jewish measures, suspicion from the government and nagging administration as much as in other parts of Romania. Economic situation of Bessarabian Jewry worsened as a result of contacts with former Russian markets termination, drought and the global economic crisis. At the beginning of the 1920s. During the agrarian reform in Bessarabia about five thousand Jews were given land for farming. In the future, share of agriculture in Bessarabia Jewish population employment is second after Palestine. This was followed by the weakening economy of Bessarabia in general that also influenced badly on economic situation of Bessarabia’s Jewish population.

    30s were marked by a peak of Jewish life in Moldova. By 1935, 40 Jewish communities united into the Union of Jewish Communities of Bessarabia.

    The first years under the Romanian authorities Jewish social and cultural life had a revival. Based on commitment regarding the national minorities due to the treaties signed by Romania, in Bessarabia there was build a well-developed network of Jewish elementary and secondary schools in Yiddish and Hebrew. However, by the end of 1922 the government policy changed and many of these schools have been converted into Romanian.

    In 1924 Soviet Union formed Moldavian ASSR (capital was first established in Balta, and then since 1929, after the transfer of Balta district of Odessa region, Tiraspol was proclaimed a capital) from areas on the left bank & parts of Ukraine. When in 1940 Bessarabia was annexed by the Soviet Union it became a part of Moldavian ASSR, and formed the Moldavian SSR (capital based in Chisinau). The Jewish population of Moldova autonomous part of Ukraine by that time due to the 1939 census was equal to 37,035 people. Estimates states that by 1940 in Bessarabia there were living around three hundred thousand Jews (according to the census of 1930 - 206,958 people), including refugees from other parts of Romania.

    Jewish community, parties, public agencies and organizations that existed in Bessarabia during the Romanian authorities were closed. All the Zionist (see Zionism) activities were banned, Hebrew schools were eliminated. However, the Yiddish culture was not prosecuted: Yiddish teaching schools stayed opened, in Chisinau there was established Jewish Theatre, there was an Yiddish newspaper "Besaraber Stern" as well as radio in Yiddish. However, at 1940-41. thousands of Jews of Moldavia were arrested and deported to Siberia; the pick of arrests and deportations was reached by June 13, 1941. [2], [4], [5]

  • The Second World War and Holocaust in Moldova

    German-Romanian troops occupied Moldavia territory at the end of July 1941. Many Jews though managed to evacuate. Most of Moldova was annexed as a part of Bessarabia governorship & declared part of the Romanian kingdom, rest of it became a part of Transnistria Governorate (Zadnistrovye), which was temporarily ruled by Romanians.

    Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu immediately called for a Bessarabia’s "clean-up". Implementation of this call, in practice, resulted in massacre of Jews who lived in the villages, and to the concentration of the city's Jews into the ghetto. Romanian police and soldiers were directly involved in the extermination of the Bessarabian Jews. By order of the Deputy Prime Minister Mihai Antonescu, there was created a special squad to murder Jews. In July and August 1941, this "special train", together with the forces of the German army and einzatsengruppe exterminated more than 150,000 Jews.

    By the end of July 1941 Bessarabian governor General Voiculescu ordered to creat concentration camps and ghettos for Jews in Chisinau, Odintsy, Marculesti, Vertyuzheni, Limbeni, Rishcani, Geudege, Orhei, Cahul, Rublenits etc. Most camps were established in places of mass destruction, where there have already been killed thousands of Jews. Those camps and ghettoes were also created o the places where there used to be Jewish quarters in cities such as Balti, Soroca, Chisinau and Hotin. There. According to the Romanian official data, there were driven more the eighty thousand people, many of whom were shot by the Germans and Romanians.

    In early September 1941 on the territory of Bessarabia there still were 64,176 Jews. By the end of the same month - 43 397. Remaining 20,000 were deported together with the Jews of Bucovina to Transnistria, the area is geographically related to Ukraine and was subordinate to the Romanian authorities. Subsequently, almost all of 43,000 Jews remained in Bessarabia were also deported to Transnistria. 25,000 of them died in the deportation process: Romanian authorities were simply throwing existed people from one location to another, with no specific goal but the idea to get rid of as many Jews as they could in a process. Those who did not managed with the inhuman regime of movements, were shot dead by the Romanian guards. Those who eventually got to Transnistria, were also killed or used for forced labor. By May 1942 in Bessarabia there were only 227 Jews. In August 1944, the region was liberated by the Red Army and annexed as a part of the Soviet Union.

    Moldavian Jews played a significant role in the anti-Nazi resistance movement. In September 1941 the evacuation Republican Party center was send to Moldova to help organization of the partisan movement. Five out of the nine members of this center were Jews. One of the leaders of the underground anti – Nazi withstanding in Chisinau was B. Deitch (? -1941).

    Transnistria

    Transnistria has been created in accordance with the German-Romanian treaty signed in the city of Bender on August 30, 1941. Under this contract, the territory between the Dniester river and Southern Bug river, including parts of Vinnitsa, Odessa, Nykolayiv regions of Ukraine and the left-bank part of Moldavia are to be transmitted under the jurisdiction and control of Romania.

    Based on this treaty Romanian leader of 1940-1944 Ion Antonescu issued on August 19th 1941 - Decree number 1 on the establishment of the Romanian administration over Transnistria with its residence in Tiraspol (in the middle of October 1941, after the withdrawal of the Red Army from Odessa, the capital was moved there). Professor Gheorghe Aleksyanu became an appointed governor.

    Transnistria border was going: in the south by the Black Sea coast between the mouths of the rivers Dniester and Southern Bug, in the west - on the Dniester River from the mouth to the confluence of the river Dniester left tributary Lyadova, the east - on the Southern Bug River from the mouth to the confluence of the Southern Buh right tributary Rov river, in the north - along the rivers and Lyadova & Rov till their origins in Barsc district of Vinnitsa region.

    Transnistria was divided into 13 Counties:

    • Mogilev (town of Mogilev, town of Zhmerynka, District Balky, District Kopaygorod, District Krasnoe, District Yarischev, District Sargorod, District Zhmerynka, District Stanislavchik)

    • Zhugastru (city of Yampol, District Chernovyts, District Krizhopol, District Yampol, District Tomaspol)

    • Tulchin (city of Tulchin, District Braslaw, District Spikov, District Trostinets, District Tulchin)

    • Rybnitsa (city of Byrzula, city of Rybnitsa, District Byrzula, District Kamenka, District Kodyma, District Peschyanka, District Rybnitsa)

    • Balta (city of Balta, city of Bershad, District Balta, District Bershad, District Chichelnik, District Obadovka, District Olgopol, District Pjescana, District Savran)

    • Dubossari (city of Dubossari, city of Grigoriopol, District Cherns, District Dubossari, District Grigoriopol, District Okna, District Zaharevka)

    • Ananiev (city of Ananiev, District Ananev, District Chernova, District Petroverovka, District Sfint Trinity, District Siraeva, District of Valea Hotsuluy)

    • Goltsky (city of Gaulta, District Crooked Lake, District Domanevka, District Gaulta, District Lyubashovka, District Vradievka)

    • Tiraspol (municipality of Tiraspol, District Grosulova, District Razdeliaya, District Selz, District Slobodzeya, District Tebrikovo, District Tiraspol)

    • Ovidiopol (city of Ovidiopol, District Balaevka, District Frantsfeld, District Ovidiopol, District Vygoda)

    • Odessa (municipality of Odessa, District Antonov-Kodinchevo, District Blaguzhevo, District Yanovka, o District Odessa)

    • Berezovsk (city of Beryozovka, District Beryozovka, District Landau, District Bridge, District Veselinovo)

    • Ochakiv (city of Ochakov , district Krasna, District Ochakov, District Varvarovka)

     

    Minimum food was provided only to those who were necessary for the occupation administration and only those were issued bread coupons. Official price of bread was 12 pfennig per 1 kg, but its price on the free market reached 3 marks.

    In Odessa the next day after the Romanian occupation on October 17 there were shot about 3-4 thousand men, mostly Jews. On October 22 Romanian commandant office was blown thus killing 66 soldiers and officers, among them one general. Next morning - about 5,000 civilian hostages were shot and hanged. Simultaneously on the artillery depots in the country there were executed prisoners, Red Communists and soviet Komsomol leaders, including about 19,000 Jews, whose bodies were burned. Another 5 thousands Jews were imprisoned & then on October 24 sent to the Dalnik outpost where they have been placed in barracks and burned alive. German Gestapo exterminated another 1,000 Jews, and on November 15 during the last shooting in Odessa there were killed more then a 1000 Jews. Overall, in a less than a month period there were exterminated about 35,000 Jews.

    From December 21st 1941 till February 15th 1942, more then 44,000 Jews evicted from Odessa and Odessa region were executed in the village Bogdanivka, Berezovsky district.

    During the autumn of 1941 and winter of 1941-1942, about 150,000 Jews from Romanian governorate of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were deported to Transnistria, almost all of them were exterminated.

    Ghettos in Transnistria had a clear management structure headed by "president of the community." There existed well-developed social services, and handicraft production. Since the beginning of 1942, Transnistria’s ghetto prisoners deported from Bessarabia and Bukovina, began to receive regular financial and food aid from the Jewish community in Romania, and in 1943 from international Jewish organizations. It was one of the main specific features of these ghettos that have saved many prisoners lives. Transnistria is the place where there managed to survive about 70% of Soviet Jews, survivors of occupation.

    Romanian authorities have established a brutal regime with regard to the Slavic population of the region and the main punishment then was the death penalty.

    History of the Romanian occupation of Transnistria was over in April 1944, when Soviet army completely liberated territory between the Dniester and Southern Bug from Romanian and German troops.

  • The second half of the twentieth century. Repatriation (Aliah).

    After the war, Jewish cultural life of Moldova did not revive. Many Moldova Jews suffered from the Soviet Union anti-Semitic campaigns, culminated by the Doctors case; many Jewish physicians were arrested in Moldova. According to the 1959 census, in Moldova there were living 95,107 Jews (3.3% of the population - the highest percentage of Jews in the population in all the Soviet Union republics). About 50% of the Jews called Yiddish their mother language, higher percentage was shown only in Lithuania (69%). By the end of 1950s persecution of religious Jews in Moldova intensified. In 1959, the last local synagogue in Balti was closed. A series of articles in the newspaper "Soviet Moldavia", accusing the Jews of the city of Falesti in children’s religious upbringing there was closed another synagogue in 1960. In Moldova, there was only one working and opened synagogue - in Chisinau. In some cities Jewish cemeteries were also closed.

    Jews of Moldova have a high rate of the people with a higher education. According to the data from 1961-62 learning year, in Moldova there were 1225 Jewish students (6.4% of the total number of students, higher than the overall figure for the Soviet Union). In 1966, 49 (about 10%) out of 500 scientists from the Moldavian Academy of Science were Jewish. Jews have made a significant contribution to the culture of Moldova: composers D G Gershfeld (born in 1911, the first director of the Moldavian conservatory, author of the first Moldovan opera "Grozovan"), S. Zlatov (Gold, 1893-1969), S. Lunchevici (born in 1934), writers L. Kornyanu (Korenfeld; 1909-57), K. Condrea (Cohn, born in 1920), E. Bauch, M. Gamburd artist (1903-54).

    According to the 1970 census, there were 98,072 Jews (2.7% of total population) living in Moldova. Moldova was the only European part Soviet Union republic, where the Jewish population has increased since 1959. The percentage of Jews who called Yiddish mother language (44.6%) decreased, but remained one of the highest in the Soviet Union republics.

    Since the late 1960s Moldovan Jews played an active role in the struggle for repatriation to Israel. According to the 1979 census, 80,000 Jews (two percent of the total population) were living in Moldova. The main reason of Jewish population number decline was mass emigration. Since 1987, in the development process so-called glasnost and perestroika, Jewish cultural activities in Moldova intensified a little bit. There were created societies and groups for learning Yiddish and Hebrew (some of them eve acquired an official status). In late 80's there were created Moldovan Society of Jewish culture, Jewish theater-studio "Menoyre" in Balti. Simultaneously there was an obvious intensification of anti-Semitism: rallies and anti-Semitic slogans, desecration of Jewish cemeteries (the destruction of monuments in Orhei and others), the beatings of Jews on the streets of Moldova’s cities, anti-Semitic articles in Moldovan media.

    According to the Soviet census of 1989, 65,900 Jews were living in Moldova. Sharp deterioration of the country's population economic situation, increase of anti-Semitism in the country following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Transnistrian war in 1992 led to the exodus of the Jewish population of Moldova to Israel, U.S., Germany and other countries. So, in 1989- 1470 Jews from Moldova immigrated to Israel; in 1990 - 11,926; in 1991 - 15,452 Jews; in 1992 - 4305 Jews; in 1993 - 2173 Jews; in 1994 - 1907 Jews; in 1995 – 2407; in 1996 - 1953 Jews; in 1997 - 1396 Jews; in 1998 - 1194 Jews; in 2000 – 1774; in 2001 - 959 Jews; in 2002 - 538. Total number of Jews immigrated in a period 1989-2002 from Moldova to Israel is around 40 thousand people. [2], [5]

 

Sources:

[1] Encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron

[2] Jewishmemory

[3] Embassy of Moldova in Israel

[4] Electronic Jewish encyclopedia

[5] Electronic Jewish encyclopedia 

 

JCM.MD

 

Public Association “Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova” is a nationwide organization consisting of 9 regional Jewish Communities and different organizations in Chisinau.

 

 

 

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