Other names: Jassy [Eng, Ger, Pol], Jászvásár [Hun], Iassy [French, Rus], Pronounced: "Yash" Yiddish: יאס Located: 47°10' N, 27°36' E
Iaşi is one of the largest cities in Romania and the capital of Iaşi Judet (county) in the Moldavia region in northeastern Romania. Iaşi was the capital of the country of Moldavia for almost 300 years (1564 to 1859). When Moldavia merged with Wallachia in 1859 Iasi and Bucharest were defacto capitals for three years. In 1862 the two principalities were recognized as Romania with the national capital in Bucharest. Iasi also served as capital of Romania during World War I from 1916–1918 when Bucharest was occupied by Germany and it's Allies.
The first Jewish settlers arrived in Iasi around the 15th century. Isaac ben Benjamin Shor, a Jew from Jassy was steward and chancellor to Prince Stephen the Great who ruled Moldavia from 1457 ro 1504. Isaac also served under Bogdan (1504-1517), the son and successor of Stephen. In 1551, the Jew “Emanuel” was nominated by the Turkish sultan to be the ruler of Moldavia, however it is not clear whether he actually ruled.
At the end of the 16th century, the Jewish settlement in Iasi became a stopover place for Polish merchants on their way to Bessarabia and the port at Galati. Several Moldavian princes used Jewish doctors, who also served political roles. The trade in wine and hard spirits at that time was almost solely in Jewish hands. In the 17th century, Iasi served as a stopover for immigrants from central and eastern European countries and Jews slowly began to settle in the area.
In the 19th century the Jewish population throughout Romania grew rapidly and the fastest growth was in Moldavia and especially the largest cities:
For more details see Romania and the Jews by Radu D. Rosettio (1904). This is a very detailed and interesting history but it is very worthwhile to preface this by reading the Introduction and especially page VII.
In 1855, Iaşi was the home of the first Yiddish language newspaper, Korot Haitim. In 1876 Avraham Goldfaden (right) founded the world's first professional Yiddish Theater in Romania.
Iasi's prominence as a major center of Jewish culture is also noted in the area of music. The words of Ha Tikvah, the Israeli national anthem were written by Naphtali Herz Imber in Iasi.
One particularly noteworthy Iasi academic family was headed by Benjamin Schwarzfeld who lived from 1822 to 1896. He was an educator, writer and father of:
Elias wrote two highly regarded and interesting articles in the AJY 1901-02: The Jews of Roumania - From the Earliest Times to the Present Day and Situation of the Jews in Roumania - Since the Treaty of Berlin (1878).
On the eve of the Holocaust (1930) Jews were the second largest ethnic group with 127 synagogues. After World War II Iaşi played a prominent part in the revival of Yiddish culture but politics and renewed anti-semitism in the 1960s/70s led to a declining Jewish population. Today there are about 300 to 600 Jews and one synagogue.
Iasi Research Projects
ROM-SIG is currently working on record acquisition for Iasi and other Romanian cities. This is a hugh project and requires many more volunteers for transcribing records. These will include Births, Marriages, and Deaths from the 1860s to the early 20th century. Please volunteer at ROM-SIG VOLUNTEERS.
You can also donate funds through Jewishgen at ROM-SIG PROJECT DONATIONS. The donations help pay for photographing additional records from the Iasi archives. Since Jewishgen does not inform ROM-SIG of donations right away please let ROM-SIG know about your donations to expedite the process: REPORT DONATION.
Project details by town and years are available at The Moldavia Vital records Data base on Jewishgen
For more information send email to Barbara Hershey
Short History of Iasi 2:56
Iasi. The City of the Beginnings 6:45
Iasi 1900 8:16
Iasi, The Memory of Time 7:13
Iasi City - 5:51 great aerial views
Shtetls in Iasi Judet
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