A Short Presentation about Galatz Jewish Community

by President, Avram Vacs

Given on 13 June 1999 on a local Galati TV station

Donates by:  Mr.Vacs  via G. Mireuta.

as a gift for the Galati website


The great statesman and historian Mihail Kogálniceanu says in his book, Istoria Moldovei [The History of Moldava] that even before the setting up of Moldavia in 1350 under Bogdan Voda, Jews lived in the two principalities.

Under the reign of Alexandru cel Bun, 1400-1432, Galatz was known as an important harbor due to trade establishing many relationships abroad and in which most Jews were involved at the time. This is why Alexandru cel Bun (the ruler) had appreciation and was thankful to the Jews. Concerning Galatz after the merger of Pocutia to Moldavia under Stefan cel Mare, Jews played a leading role in the better development.

Documents certify that in 1600, the town of Galatz was made up only of the town's valley. Most Jews lived in this valley on Docarilor Street [today's Dogariei Street) and in the vicinity up to Badalau. The oldest cemetery was from 1590-1595 around the goods railway station, further destroyed. A second one was founded in 1629 on Fishermen Street from Badalan.

Starting with 1769, Jews left the valley of the town, moving to the hill uninhabited at that time: Cojocarilor Street (today's Duinihu Chicus), Rasboieni (formerly Israelite Street), on Serei, Movilei, and Traian Streets.

As on the hill of the town, a prayer house was necessary. The decision was to build a synagogue; and in 1780, the "Big Synagogue" was established and in 1846 were built the synagogues Habab, Blinter, Fierarilor, Caritar.

In 1896, on February 23, by a ruler's paper signed by the voivode ruler Mihail Grigore Sturza, the Jewish Community of Galatz was recognized.

The Temple of the Israelite Society of Handicraftsmen was a prayer house at the beginning and was rebuilt in 1875 with donations from the handicraftsmen and inaugurated on August 11, 1896. Today, it is the spiritual center of the Jews who remain in Galatz and an architectural beauty of our city. The Galatz Community can be proud of the forerunners who built synagogues, hospitals, asylum for elderly, charity societies. From 1826, the Jewish handicraftsmen were organized in guilds and professional corporations.

The Jews called from days of yore, people of knowledge, paid attention to their children's education. So, in 1839 the first elementary school was established and in 1874, the second one. In 1894, the school on Mavramol Street 23 was opened. In 1908 on the premises of Cuza Voda was established the Commercial School with director Mr. H. SANIELEVICI, a well-known literary critic. In 1919 was the opening of the school year at the Israelite High School, today's No. 3 High School Alexandru I. Cuza. Further, a Tarbuth kindergarten, the Talmud Torah school, and the Silvia SCHNIERER school for girls were founded.

In 1834, the health house "Hecdos" was founded that could satisfy some needs. In 1845, a decision was made to reunite the voivode by Mihail Girgore Sturza's who was requested to approve the foundation of a hospital for the Community via a tax of 1/1000 on all goods imported and exported by Jewish merchants from Moldavia. The ruler appreciated this request; and he approved this tax by a paper issued in 1846.

In 1848, there was a cholera epidemic so the Community changed the designation of the health house to treating Jews and Romanians free-of-charge.

In 1849, the hospital was reorganized and other buildings developed; and in November 1903 the Israelite Hospital was inaugurated.

Prince Ferdinand and Queen Marie visited in 1906 and signed the Gold Book that is to be found in our Community, certifying the good running of the hospital.

To the development of our Community have contributed personalities like the historian I. BROCINER; Professor SANIELEVI; Dr. FELDMAN; Prof. CANAREA; the philologist Silva SCHNIERER, who was the director of the girls' high school for thirty years; the poet Barbu NEMTEANU; Jean STEURMAN; Salo VEISELBERG; Radu VOLBURA; T. COSTIN; the great painter Riven RUBIN; the pianist FUCS, who was accompanist to Enescu; and others.

On September 1, ___ Sigmund CARMELIN founded the newspaper "L'eche Danubien" in Romanian and French. In 1881, out of this newspaper came "The Friends of Zion". After World War I appeared the newspapers "Galati Noi", "Ecoul", and "Vocea Galatiloo."

All these newspapers having democratic ideas and opinions were suspended during the Fascist regime.

Speaking about the part of Jews in the economic development of Galatz. In 1760 in Galatz, there were the shipyards of the MENDEL brothers. In Galatz, at that time a free port, were the famous bankers, the ABRAMOVICI brothers, who had strong contacts in Vienna and Constantinople, [sic] merchants who dealt with export of timber and grain. In Galatz lived the big manufacturers Osias AUSCHNIT and Max AUSCHNIT, joint owners of Titan Nadrag Calan-Ciclop; the brother ARONIC, Max FISCHER, Alexandry DINERMAN, and others who contributed to the development of Romanian and Galatz industry.

In Galatz lived a large number of doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, and civil servants [clerks], who were Jews.

The majority of the Jewish population consisted of handicraftsmen and workers in workshops, factories and the port.

The Jewish population supported the 1848 Revolution. Among those taking part were Mr. MORDENTHAL, President of the Galatz Jewish Community, the painter Daniel ROSENTHAL, and others.

In 1857, the newspaper Israelitul Roman published an article to the Jews from Moldavia with an appeal to fight for the Union of the Principalities and for electing ruler Alexandru Ion Cuza.

The Jews brought their blood tribute and heroism to the wars of 1877 and 1913-191.

We cannnot forget the name of the hero from Grivita, Major M. BORDNER. Meantime, I can present my gradfather Leiba VACS from the Regiment 15 Dorobauti, who was awared the princely diploma no. 1784 in 1879 for serving under the flag in the War of Independence in 1877 and my father, Maier WACS who was awarded the medal "Avantul Tari" for the campain of 1913, the Memorial Cross for the war in 1916, in 1918 with the Straps Carpati, Targul Ocna, and the Victoria Medical of the Great War of 1916-1919.

In Galatz Jewish Cemetery, located at Stefan cel Mare Street 34, there is a monument that immortalizes 128 Jewish heroes from Galatz, who died for the Romanian homeland.

Although I have pointed out on several times that these heroes are buried in the Jewish cemetery, I have asked that on Heroes Day that they be honored as they died for the homeland. It was not taken into consideration despite the contribution of the Jewish population from Galatz in 1867, gangs of outlaws have laid waste to synagogues and molested Jewish citizens but there were great-hearted people who offered shelter to them, like Father Veliche from Maica Precista Church.

Anti-Semitic excesses took place in 1932, 1940, and 1941. Due to the negative influences of the Nazis, the Jewish population suffered serious privations and racial discriminations; and we should do our utmost that such tragic events never be repeated.

We must mention that, due to our length of time on Romanian soil, we consider ourselves Romanians of the Jewish faith.

In 1941 in Galatz city, there were approximately 15,000 Jews and twenty synagogues. At present, our Community has 250 members, who live and stand for a religious and cultural Jewish life. Out of the twenty temples that existed in Galatz, the only one remaining is Templul Meseriaselor where services take place. In our Community is a course for learning Hebrew and a little choir.

Our Community has a ritual restaurant where approximately thirty members with small incomes are assisted with lunch, paying a symbolic amount. We have a medical consulting room. In the Community, we receive the review "Realitatea Evreiasca" edited by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania and a lot of books/works. We organize with the assistance of intellectuals two to three conferences that present the history of the Romanian nation.

We are doing our best to further the upkeep of Community life in all aspects as we enjoy conditions within the framework of democracy created in our country and with the efforts of ensuring the civil and religious rights granted to all ethnic groups as well as the dignity of our Community that identified itself with the Romanian nation during six hundred years of life together. We are side-by-side with all authorities in order to go beyond all difficult circumstances presently crossed by our country.


 Compiled by Ayana Sadetsky-Kimron
Updated by AK 08/04/2008
Copyright © 1999 ROM-SIG
Donated by Ellen Renck

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