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II. Information Regarding Jews in Bacau until the mid XIXth century

Starting in the XIXth century, the sources of documentation regarding Jews in Bacau become more numerous. There are also statistical documents which show that, among other things, the movement of the Jewish population and the role they played in the economic life of the town.

In this historical time, we witness in Moldova the destruction of the feudal system structure through the replacement of the agricultural and forestry with those of the trade economy. The production and distribution of goods gained more and more importance. However, during the first few decades of the century, the size of this process was quite small in Bacau. We come across that from the monograph of the city of Bacau at the beginning of the XIXth century: “In 1820, the city was in its infancy and consisted of very few houses”1.

In fact, the census of the city of Bacau from 1820 mentions the existence of only 22 houses owned by the Nobility, and a population of only 1000 people in total2. Out of the 138 tax payers, there were 55 families of Jews which had an official paper called a Hrisov given by the treasury where they were paying taxes. It is probable that these 55 families consisted of about 200-250 people, meaning that the Jews represented a fifth of the total population. In one of his works, Verax mentions as well a number of 55 families of Jews in Bacau for the year 1820 3.

The census also mentions the presence in Bacau of persons who were originally from other countries but had retained their original citizenship to benefit from fiscal advantages. It is possible that there were also Jews among them, however few in number since “the census of foreign citizens in Moldavia” from 1824-25 shows that only 57 foreign citizens existed in Bacau at that time; even in 1828, the number of foreign citizens in the county of Bacau did not get larger than 87 people, out of which only 12 resided in the city of Bacau4.

A more comprehensive statistical data shows up in the next decade. Although some sources5 note that in 1830 the Jewish population consisted of 220 “souls”, there are facts that prove a growth process of the Jewish population had already started.

The treaty of Adrianopol signed in 1828 at the end of the Russian/Turk wars, and which eliminated the Turkish monopoly over the economy of the Romanian Provinces, brought new methods in governing the public affairs. In this sense, according to the stipulations of the Organic Rule, a census had been completed in Moldova every seven years beginning from 1831. The mapping results from the censuses aren't just of a fiscal nature, but give us an appreciation of the demographic evolution of the population.

The researchers contended that the data obtained in that period have a lot of imperfections with an error margin of up to 25%. That explains the necessity of the authorities to improve their methods. Hence, “The Administrative Manual of Moldova” published on April 4th 1839 (vol. I, p. 514) has rules regarding the methods of the census. As relating to the Jews, their census had to be done in tandem with two representatives of the Higher Church (in Iasi) and in the suburbs together with the official government representatives. The heads of the trade guilds had to certify the existence of the tradesmen belonging to their guild, and to submit it to the census registry. Article 23 of this manual, provided that each Jew registered will receive an identity paper valid for one year showing all vital information about them.

Despite the shortcomings of the statistical information, the results obtained through the census showed continual growth of the Jewish population in Bacau.

The census from 1831 was redone in 1832. “The Statistical Extract” completed in Bacau for the year 18326 indicated a total population of 2,903 people. There were 519 Jews, out of which 112 men, 109 women, 126 boys, 111 girls, 51 male servants, and 10 female servants. The Jews represented at this point 13.5% of the total population of the city. In Bacau there were 614 houses.

As can be observed, in the third decade of the century, the total population of Bacau had tripled and the number of Jews had doubled. However, in the socio-economic life of the city there still existed a large feudal system. Almost 400 of the borough's people were sdervants who were owned by the Nobility, and the Church diocese that consisted of 70 people. Furthermore, out of 1843 citizens that made up “the middle class with their families and servants”, a large portion was involved in the legal administration of the city. There had existed even from that time different social classes for the production and distribution of merchandise, involved either in commercial activity or as tradesmen and workers in the twelve “factories” mentioned in the census (windmills, candle making, tanneries, etc) and also the eight smith trader shops, and printing press. Verax indicates the following numbers for the year 18317: out of the 2,584 Christians (412 families) there were 110 families of merchants and tradesmen; the Jewish population of 519 souls represented 68 families, who depended on commerce and the trades.

An example of this is shown in the report of the Jewish merchants and tradesmen of Bacau in a document dated 1836:

6 butchers, 30 store keepers, 1 copper maker, 4 silver workers, 3 jewellers, 1 tool and dye maker, 1 bucket maker, 1 pot maker, 1 butcher, 2 milliners, 2 tavern keepers, 2 cobblers, 21 tailors, 1 cantor, 1 teacher, 1 rides operator, 1 stable boy, 1 stone mason, 1 wine maker, 1 glass blower, 1 safar, 1 cap maker, 2 cigarette vendors, 1 velnicer, and 3 unemployed 8.
Seven years after the first census, in 1838, the town's population was 3,132 and the number of Jews was 17409, representing 55% of the total population. The growth of the population (including the Jewish population) shows that Bacau had developed into a centre of production and merchandise trade. Accordingly, new administrative changes were taking place as well. In 1831 the town's guardianship had been founded under the Ministry of the Interior. The appointment of the guardians reflected the growing importance of the new social forces: in 1840, 8 nobles, 8 merchants, and 8 farmers were appointed as guardians. The new economic relations required people with some education. In 1839 the first public elementary school opened. The city was expanding with all its suburbs being developed, amongst which was Leca, where the poor Jewish population and the Gypsies lived.

The following census from 1845 shows this demographic situation: 408 Christian families, 435 Jewish families, some of which were part of the 70 families of foreign subjects. Hence, at this time the proportion of the Jewish families surpasses that of the rest of the population. The census of that year also shows that in Bacau the number of Jewish merchants and tradesmen was 35410. One of the community books, which showed all the taxes incurred by the people of Moldova, indicates that the 338 Jewish merchants and tradesmen from Bacau had paid taxes to the government in the amount of $18,315 lei for the year 184511.

In 1854, 3,812 Jews lived in Bacau. Although towards the middle of the XIXth century the administration insisted that people renounce their foreign citizenship, (which assured them of economic advantages) we find that in Bacau there still were 31 Jews with foreign citizenship. Among them, 5 were tradesmen: 2 tailors, 1 bucket maker, 1 stone mason, and 1 cobbler 12. Also in 1854, it is noted that recruits for the army had been required also from the Jewish population from Bacau - 1 recruit for every 70 families13. In that same year, the Jewish Merchants Guild had 365 names. In this Guild there were butchers, bakers, vendors, cobblers and other tradesmen with the exception of tailors, boot makers, and milliners who had their own Guilds 14.

In one of the lists of all Jews of Bacau sent to Yashi in 1858, there were 817 families and 36 widows, a total of 853 families15. According to “The Official Monitor of Moldavia” number 89-1858 in Bacau there were 868 Jewish merchants and qualified tradesmen. The number of Jews in Bacau that year was 3,711, representing 41% of the total population.

Therefore, in the first half the XIXth century, the number of Jewish people living in Bacau grew continuously. There were numerous factors that contributed to this growth. First, there was an increase in the birth rate, (births surpassing deaths). Moreover, the economic and political influx facilitated by the rulers of the time also contributed to the population growth in the period.Yet another factor was the migration of Jewish population from the Nordic border regions of Moldavia towards the south. Furthermore, many of the Jews who had lived previously in the neighbouring villages established themselves in the town whenever they could find better living conditions. In addition there was the migration of Jews from Poland, and Russia forced by the continuous hardships in their country that looked for new places in Moldavia.

Let's view for a moment the physical aspect of Bacau in the mid XIXth century, after the previous decades, when it had expanded and its population increased. We will reproduce here the characterisation of Bacau in those years, given in a monograph: “Bacau was a conglomerate of small wooden houses covered in moss. There were only two main streets (the Royal Street and the main street), other than that, maybe 3 or 4 small districts named after wealthy citizens, merchants, and for poor people some unpaved streets. The town's guardianship, the courthouse, and the police were functioning out of rented houses. The lighting on the streets was primitive: great distances between poles with small lanterns with a candle inside. The town's water came out of wells, and the garbage was spread on the banks of the Bistrita River. The overcrowding of the houses facilitated fires, like the one that happened in 1853 which destroyed hundreds of houses.” 16

What were the occupations of the Jews of Bacau in the first half of the XIXth century? By and large, a great number participated in commerce and trades, however of small magnitude since their activity is only partially reflected in the archives' papers. To fill in the gaps, we have to use the information we gather from their descendants.

The Jewish merchants sold the products specific to the region (grain, wood, animal products, oil, and other derivatives of these) and brought from other parts products that the local population needed.

Ever since the end of the XVIIIth century there were Jews involved in the trade (and later on the industrialisation) of wood gathered from the extensive forests in the region. A document from 1775 reports “the Sum Received by Hersului Baiesu for lumber” shows us that Jews were directly involved in the export of lumber, which was taken down by barges to Galati 17.

Another occupation, which appealed to many Jews, was the grain trade and other agricultural produce specific to the region. A document from 1805 describes the corn trade between Solomon the Jew and Constantin Nistor from Margineni 18. In April 1830, Herscu the son of Meier and Marcu the son of Lupu (supervisors) bought 100 sacks of corn flour from the flour maker, Constantin Ciudeu 19. In 1834 Lupu Boroh bought fruits in the amount of $11,000 lei from the villagers of Dealul Nou 20. On July 11th 1844, Iancu Baltar the Jew bought from Alecu Ioachim 100 kg of corn (as per L. Saineanu a kilo represented 430 litres of grain) and in 1845 a Jew bought 23 haystacks 21. In 1805, the Jew Aron bought 223 caskets of wine 22, and he had monetary problems with Vasile son of Gheorghe. In 1842 Avram Hanguil the Jew from Bacau was fighting in court with I. Cofman for 66 caskets of wine 23.

As can be seen, by the end of the XVIIIth century and throughout the XIXth century, the trade with grain, including its export had become the most important occupation of the Jews of Bacau (see also “The year 1848 in the Romanian Counties” VOL II Bucharest 1904 pg. 201).

In memory of the Brill family, who lived in Bacau until after the Second World War, a memorial of their ancestor - Hersel Brill the German - had been preserved. At the end of the XVIIIth century, in the summers, he used to build caravans of barges to float grain and flour to Galati. During the winters he used to organize caravans of wagons transporting grain, flour and venison to Leipzig bringing in return groceries. He had come to Tg. Neamt in Bucovina in 1774 and had moved to Bacau since that was the origin of the barges on the Bistrita; he was buried in Bacau in 1846. His sons continued their father's trade, and while the older son, Itic Leib became a grain merchant, a younger one, Marcu traded in alcoholic beverages; in the winters he used to organise caravans of sleds on which he transported animal pelts and grains to Galati, for export; from there the sleds brought back cotton, manufactured and imported products which he sold to other merchants. In 1838 Marcu Brill, founded in Bacau on the street Mihai Viteazul the first store with cotton articles with a branch in Tg-Ocna, run by Zisu Foscaneau, which served the population of the Trotus River valley. Another son, Strul was trading in salt and agricultural produce.

One of the studies regarding the extraction of salt at Luncani mentioned that around the year 1828 a lot of merchants from Bacau, among them Zisu, had traded salt both from the salt mines of Ocna and from Luncani24.

Another occupation, which appealed to Jews, was the cattle trade. On August 13th 1805 a Jew from Bacau had bought from a rich woman by the name of Catinca a herd of cows for the sum of $17,000 lei25.

Another trade with diversified products such as cheese, horilca, etc. is mentioned in “the financial dealing between Bercu I. Marcu and Meeru” 26. Both in 1832 and 1846 there were some Jews who traded oil products that came from the region. In 1846 they sold in Yashi 76 wagons of crude oil27.

As mentioned in a document from 1805, there were a lot of Jews involved in the commerce of finished goods28. Another document dated 1833 informs us of the sale of 540 meters of cotton fabric29. Verax mentions that in 1831 in Bacau, a Jew was selling groceries, two others were selling tobacco, and another one knitted goods 30. Avram Igner, Zisu Focsaner, and others traded groceries in the first half of the XIXth century.

The 1830 census regarding “markets, kiosks, and other commercial buildings” in Bacau indicates that Itic the Jew had a butchery and Bercu was a hat merchant31. It is also mentioned that out of 55 taverns that existed in the town, there was the “basement of Lupu Boroh” with 6 caskets, the one of Itic the Jew with four caskets, and the tavern of Sandu Bacal. The census also mentions the names of other Jews involved in other trades: cotton merchants, grocers and other tradesmen. In 1846 the first glassware store was founded in Bacau and it belonged to Bainglas.

Some Jews owned inns. One document mentions an inn bought from Marioara Mortun by Mendel Pascal and Pinkas Idelstein32. On the October 26, 1842 the innkeeper Iancu Falticineanu rented a house from a rich woman signing the following contract “I, the Jewish undersigned Iancu Falticineanu, know that I have rented the houses from Madame Efrasinia Popovici, in the town of Bacau for a year starting from October 19th 1842 till the year 1843 for the sum of $420 lei33.” We get more information with regards to the trades the Jews participated in from papers from 183134. The trade was done in partnership with either only Jews or between Jews and Christians - for example, the partnership between Avram, son of Bercu, with the Priest Simion 35.

Some Jews in Bacau were employed by different government offices, that collected taxes either locally or for the entire region. The City Council was responsible for administering local taxes but would often auction off the various duties to the highest bidder. In 1832 Zisu contracted to collect all the taxes for wagons, and oil trade in the area and his competitor was Lupu Boroh 36. Also in the year 1832 Haim Fosaneanu contracted the taxes for lumber 37. In 1835 Herscu was in charge of all the fields that belonged to the ruler of the region 38. Many of these contracts would end up in court since one of the sides would not respect the contract. Another supervisor in Bacau was Itic Leiba, who contracted all the taxes imposed on hard liquor for three years starting January 1843 for the amount of $12, 700 lei annually. Later, L. Carniol took over the charge for hard liquor, for which he made his own seal. On September 23, 1843 the ministry of the interior made the following announcement with regards to “the tax of the scales” in Bacau: Hercu Avram is in charge of taxes over all scales, over all the merchants in Bacau, and he will be paying $3000 lei per year while he is in charge” 39. For the next three years, in 1853, Mathos the son of Lupu Boroh, took over the duties of the taxes imposed on import/export in Bacau40. Many supervisory jobs were done in partnership by Jewish or non Jewish people; for example, in 1845 there was a partnership between Iosif Railer and Constantin Alecu41 or previously the one between Moisa David and the High Steward Gheorghe Neculai42.

We can get a fairly good idea about the magnitude of Jewish merchants activity in Bacau reached at that time from some documents in the archive, which describe the buying and selling process of both houses and the land used for construction. For example in 1857 the Jew Alter Braunstein, bought for $6300 lei a kiosk/store with “two rooms in the back of it, all under the same roof” 43. In that same year, Avram Hertanul bought from Dumitru Mateiu a house lot, witnessed by Iosub Kaufman44. In 1856, another kiosk was sold for $200 gold coins45. Sometimes there were conflicts; for example in 1835, the merchants from the market had filed a lawsuit against Avram the Jew for four kiosks in Bacau46.

These exchanges sometimes took place between Jews only: in 1846, Alter the son of Itic, and Iosup the son of Aron, sold a lot to Iosif Ciubotarul, and in 1855, Mathos the son of Zisu sold a kiosk to Herman Firidioarul47; after two years he sold the kiosk to Itic son of Strul and his wife Brana Leia48. At other times, a Jew was the seller of the house while a Christian was the buyer: In 1818, Isac the Jew sold a house with a fenced lot to Ion Rana for $350 lei. The seller signed in Yiddish. This is the content of the contract49: “I, Isac the Jew, together with my wife and son, who will sign here in the city of Bacau, that we have indeed given the papers to Mr. Ion Rana, also of Bacau, of our own free will, stating that we sold him a house with the fenced lot, with all the trees inside the fence, as per the measurements written in the purchasing documents, for the amount of $350 lei which we received in hand. He is the sole proprietor of this property with his descendants forever, and nobody from my family can contest that. This is our signature, August 22nd 1818(three Yiddish Signatures) upon receiving I witnessed and signed Andrei Diaconul. Another witness, Captain Ion Voicu. The judge Dumitru Andrei witnessed signatures from both sides.”

Sometimes they exchanged lots: in 1851 Anastase Frone exchanged lots with tradesmen Mendel Pascal and Penihus Edelstein50. At other times, more complicated operations took place: Hagi Constatin Calin sold a plot in 1858 to Bercu Pistiner51, who after two years sold a part of this plot to Moise the son of Aron52 and the rest to Moise son of Cisar, who sold it to Usar Bir Ciobotaru53.

Some of the tradesmen who had reached a better financial situation also engaged in this kind of transactions. They were another category of Jews who helped shape the development of economic life at that time.

At the end of the XVIIIth century and during the first half of the XIXth century, many Jewish tradesmen contributed to the manufacture and exchange of material goods. A.D. Birnberg mentions in his monograph that the elder generation remembered the tailors Sloime, Slits, and Kiva, who lived at the end of the XVIIIth century. In a census table from 1831, Verax mentions54 the following categories of Jewish tradesmen in Bacau; 1 tinkerer, 1 silver smith, 1 barber, 11 tailors, 1 butcher, 1 brick maker, 2 bucket repairmen, 21 boot makers, 4 furriers, 2 candle makers, 1 milliner, 2 bread makers, 2 glass blowers, and 4 saddle makers. A document from 1846 mentions other trades the Jewish people were involved in: tool and dye makers, bucket maker, stone masons, scale makers, wagon drivers; compared to 1831 the number of tailors had doubled55.

The existing documents in archives show that a lot of Jewish tradesmen were engaged in garment manufacturing, hence the tailors became some of the most respected people in town. A.D. Birnberg's Monograph mentions the names of many of them from the middle of the century: Avram Oger, Haim Louz, Moise Leib the son of Iancu, Peiseh Leib, Ioel Itic, Hers Tolber, Ioel Vulechiser, Buium Catis, Bercu Pistiner, Zisu Goldstein, Sloime Bernstein, and Sapse. “The document of forever sold” from 1846 refers to “a lot of land of two yards in the back of the house of Iosif Itic the tailor.” In 1847 Avram Croitoru sold a house for $3400 lei 56. There is also the lot purchased by the tailor Bercu Pistiner in 1856. The number of tailors had become so large that in 1815 they opened their own synagogue on Taverna Street, founded by Moise Leib son of Iancu 57. Their guild, founded in 1832, was one of the most important guilds of the time, as noted by I. Kara in “Yivo-bleter”, volume 45, 1975, p. 96.

We obtained the books of this guild, which shows that they took care of the trade, the guild members' day to day co-existence, and enforcing the religious laws as well as the moral and ethical rules of the guild. This guild book was published in the book of I. Voledi-Vardi “Kehilat Bacau” Tel Aviv, 1990(pg. 225); Lucian Zeev Herscovici did the translation in Hebrew. The rules of the guild outlined that the tailors must stop working before Sabbath and Holy days, and also in the days of Hol Hamoed, during Passover, and Succoth. There was also a stipulation that required members to collect money for charity. The guild's leader had great authority but also very precise responsibilities: he had to personally collect the membership and apprentice fees (article 5). Just like in any other guild, any new member had to pay a registration fee as well as pay for a dinner or luncheon for all guild members (articles 14-18). The guild's leader was the one who settled arguments between members. Tailors who did not belong to the guild or came from a different city could not practice the trade (articles 12, 13, 25). If members engaged in arguments/quarrels, they had to pay fines (article 23). Some of the members of the guild did not renounce their foreign citizenships (it protected them from abuse by local authorities); that explains why part of the fines collected for breaking the rules went to the Austrian Consulate. Article 24 of the guild rules described the organisation of production. Many of the notes in the guild book show in detail the activity of the guild (Appendix II).

Another category of workers was the one of Cap and winter hat makers. A.D. Birnberg reminds us of a famous hat maker by the name of Haim Weinrauch. In 1834, Itic the hat maker, owed $600 lei to Ilie the Silver smith 58. In 1853, Smil the cap maker was in litigation for $2000 lei 59. The defendants were Hersh Stringher, and Elie the Silver smith.

The boot makers in Bacau also were numerous. A.D. Birnberg's Monography mentions some of their names: Volf, Elie, Smil, Hers Volf Cutis and User Bir Abramovici. In 1837, Strule Chiubotarul (Shoemaker) and the Jew Rahmil60 were on trial for a house in Bacau. In 1847 the boot maker Marcu, son of Meyer borrowed $100 golden coins putting up as collateral his houses in Bacau61. In 1851 the boot makers had formed their own guild while the cobblers had their own synagogue. Buium Vianer, Burah God, and Aba Thalpalar were Moccasin makers.

In constructions there were carpenters, bricklayers, and glassmakers. At the time, carpenter Peisah Leib, son of Avram made two kiosks for Zamfira Bacal 62 while Volf Vesler - furniture maker - founded the Borough Parincea. The glassmakers made windows for households 63. One of those tradesmen, Meyer Leib, a talented sculptor, had sculpted the altar for a synagogue, which burned down in 1853.

Other trades practices at the time included: water wagon and carriage drivers, saddle makers, carriage painters, bakers, and pita makers. The names of some Metal Workers and Silver smiths are mentioned in different legal documents of the time. In 1835, Itic the Silver smith and Itic Cofman were on trial for 2.6 kg of silver (2 ocale, oca=1.291 grams) 64, as were the tax collectors Pinkus and Mandel against Zalman Argintaru (the Silver smith) for some silver jewellery in 1846 65. The grocer, Marcu the Jew also found himself in court against the Bucket makers Peret and Iancu for some copper in 1835 66. The first oil lamps were made at that time by Vigder Sleifer. One of his sons, Shale Vigderescu was a smith foreman.

There were other tradesmen such as barrel makers, musicians, and writers (Mihel Fone or Burah Sraiber etc.). A document signed in Hebrew dated 1848, shows that the undersigned had effectively delivered two barrels he had made, which were sold by two other people 67. One of the Musicians who deserves recognition for spreading the Romanian Folk Music was Avram Volf Lemes, the conductor of a folk Jewish Gypsy band.

Some historians, although hostile towards Jews, had to acknowledge the large number of Jewish tradesmen at the time. In 1849, out of all the taxpayers, 351 were Jewish merchants and tradesmen68.

In fact, in many cases, their profession had become their last name: Croitoru (Tailor), Ciubotaru (Shoe maker), Argintaru (Silver smith), Caciularu (Hat maker), Sepcaru (Cap maker) etc.

During those times, the Jewish population found its niche in the life of the larger community since the relations between them and the Romanians were generally peaceful. I have mentioned before that Jews and non-Jews had formed partnerships, some of them even between priests or lower aristocracy. From a judiciary standpoint, in this era, the Jewish community was considered as a separate religious entity. “The Jewish guild” (or “The Jewish nation) as it had been called, had its leaders elected by its people, and was being recognised by the Romanian authorities as a separate entity. Some of the rabbis, Shohets and cantors functioning at the time were paid either by the community or by the members of the already numerous synagogues. It was in these synagogues where they organized religious elementary schools (heiders) as well as some higher learning schools. To support the schools, in 1837, they formed an organisation named “Talmud Torah”. The community had its own cemetery on Cremenei Street, for which the “Sacred Society – Hevra Kedosa”was responsible both with its up keeping as well as ensuring that religious rules of burial were followed.

Some of the trade guilds had organised themselves (such as the Tailor's guild – Poalei Tedek). They also initiated organisations for social assistance such as Ghemilat Hasadim. “The Jewish Guild”, represented by the their own elected leaders, was in permanent contact with the authorities, and intervened only in special cases, eventually impelling the Jewish population to gradually adapt to the evolution of the Moldavian society. For example: Both the general tendency of the era as well as Jewish tradition recommended that all litigations should be settled within the Jewish Nation or Guild, in front of the Rabbi, or other members of the guild chosen by the litigants.

The weak organisation of both the judicial and law enforcement systems of the time justified this practice. However, there are numerous documents in the archives showing that many Jews were abandoning this practice and were adapting to the rules followed by the general population. During this time there had been many trials in the local court in Bacau. On March 24, 1837, Mariam Beila was in litigation with her husband Lupu Volf over her dowry69; again in 1838 she was in the court for the estate matters of her brother who had passed away 70. In 1841 Buna Ruhla, Haim Focsaneanu's wife was in litigation for her daughter's dowry contract, against the wife of Iancu Ehrlich 71. On May 6th 1841, Alter Ruhla, Peste Alb's (White Fish) wife was in litigation with her husband for some money. There were many similar litigations72.

Sometimes prejudice took over and created conflicts between the Romanian and Jewish population. In one of his works, written in Yiddish, Iacob Psantir describes an event that took place in Bacau in 1824. According to Psantir, in the story, the woman uses one of the oldest prejudices against Jews - accusing them of ritual murder 73. Psantir had been told this story by the old Tvi Hers Caizer, the son of the hero from the story, and it was confirmed by the elders Hers Teper, and David Iancu son of Rhamil. Later, Lazar Schein (later named Lazar Saineanu) used and completed this source of information and published the essay “Ritual Sacrifice Indictment in Bacau” in his work called “The Blood Letting Slander and its History in Romania” 74 in 1824. In the same year, a similar event took place in Bacau. A woman sold her four-year-old daughter to some Turk merchants, but being afraid of public scrutiny, she let out a rumour that her daughter had disappeared and that the Jewish community should be searched since they were the ones needing blood for Passover. About two days prior to this, the new Shohet who was temporarily dwelling in the house of one of the community's members, wasn't feeling well, so he called the doctor and donated some blood; the basin with the blood was discarded in the back yard behind his residence. Meanwhile, the local police being alarmed by the mother's cries for her daughter, went to search the Jewish quarters house by house until they reached the Shohet's quarters, and found the discarded blood and vessel in the backyard. Taking the vessel as proof of the girl's murder, they arrested the owner of the house, his wife, and children; they tortured them but could not get them to confess to the crime, but rather, all they got was the truth that the doctor confirmed.

However, when they were looking for the Shohet, he had disappeared and the police could not free the arrested people without his testimony. The non-Jewish population lost patience, and started torturing, and robbing the whole Jewish community. While the entire Jewish community lived in fear, a German windmill owner, travelling outside the city, happened to be in the Tavern where the Turks left the little girl. Knowing the situation was getting out of hand and recognising the little girl, he returned her back to the police in Bacau. The Jews were set free, and the Shohet who was wondering through the mountains out of fear for his life, returned to the community.

Having gone through such dramatic moments, the Jews in Bacau continued to work and adapt to the life of the society and became helpful to all those around. A significant manifestation of this aspect is shown in a document addressed to the City Hall on May 28th 1847: “the Jewish nation of this city” asks for the City Hall's approval to open a hospital which would “beautify the city, and be a monument to the population of this region.” The hospital will be maintained by the Jewish nation, and it would be supported financially by the taxes imposed on the Hard liquor bought and sold by Jews as follows: one penny for the buyer and seller, six pennies for each casket of wine which the local Jewish tavern would negotiate, 20 pennies per wagon of products brought in from Galati, 20 pennies for each wagon with small items, 30 pennies for each wagon with groceries which the local grocers would bring in and sell around.” The authorities had approved the hospital, but within the Jewish guild there were financial problems regarding the Rabbi and Shohet's salaries, and so the guild was divided. Hence, the hospital could not be founded anymore. However, on October 22nd 1848 75, a part of the community petitioned the higher court with another request, signed by 92 members, asking permission to bring in another Rabbi and Shohet. The opening of the Jewish hospital occurred in the second half the XIXth century. The Biographical note published in “The Yearbook for Jews” of 1888-89 relating to Leiba Herscovici shows the attitude that some enlightened Jews had with regards to division. Leiba Herscovici was a Hebrew translator in the courthouse of Bacau, who had bought back from the Turks in 1821 some Christian servants and also recovered some religious artefacts for the church; he also helped finance the revolutionary movement of 1848.

Once again A.D. Birnberg's Monograph is the source for information with regards to some of the customs and clothing worn by Jews of Bacau during that period: “The Jews wore country outfits: shirts, pants, and wide belts over the usual Jewish attire. They wore boots or high shoes. On their heads they wore “Cavuc”, some kind of cap/hat made out of satin. The wealthier Jews wore colourful handkerchiefs instead of wide belts. During the winter they wore long sheepskin coats of different lenghts. The Jewish women dressed like peasant women but instead of the Catrinta (apron from Romanian folk attire) they wore full skirts. Usually, the masses would gather on Saturday afternoon, for a dance called the Hora (a popular Romanian dance where the participants held hands dancing in an enclosed circle). The kids played with walnuts “ochinca” and bobetes”.


Footnotes

  1. Costache Radu, Bacau between 1850-1900, 1900, p.5 Return

  2. State Archives Iasi, Tr. 166, work 184, Registry 10, p 211-220 Return

  3. Verax, La Roumanie et les Juifs – Romania and Jewish People, Bucharest, published by Socec, 1903, p. 8 Return

  4. Stela Maries, The Foreign Subjects in Moldavia between 1781-1862, Iasi, 1985, appendix VIII. Return

  5. Eugen Tatomir, literary works, p. 22 Return

  6. The States Archives – Iasi, Tr. 644, work 708, no. 107, file 13 Return

  7. Verax, Literary Works, p. 372-373 Return

  8. The States Archives – Iasi, Tr. 696, work 372, no. 1, file 554 Return

  9. Eugen Tatomir, literary works, p. 22 Return

  10. Leonid Boicu, Studies, historical magazine, no. 3/1963, p. 256-287 Return

  11. The States Archives – Iasi, Tr. 166, work 154, registry 10, P. 211-220, brief 1 558, p. 26-27 Return

  12. Ibid – Sate Secrewtary of Moldavia, no. 1 778, p. 21 Return

  13. Ibid – Tr. 1772, work 2020, no. 7 984 from May 2nd 1854 Return

  14. Ibid, no 31 984 from May 5th 1854 Return

  15. The Archives of Bacau, Bacau City Hall, brief 38/1858, p. 36 Return

  16. Costache Radu, Literary works, p. 6 Return

  17. The Archives of Bacau, doc. II/98 (cat. I, 236) Return

  18. Ibid, IV/194 (cat. I, 506) Return

  19. F.C.E.R. Archive, Bucaharest, IV, a, 111 Return

  20. The Bulletin, Official Paper, no. 23/1834, p. 257 Return

  21. State Archives of Iasi, fond Bacau City Hall, brief 1560/1845 Return

  22. State Archives of Bacau, Col. Doc. IV/117 (cat. 1480) Return

  23. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau Court, Inv. 776, Tr. 764, work 873, no. 9. brief 34 Return

  24. States Archives, 125 Years of Activity, Bucharest 1957, p. 424 Return

  25. State Archives of Bacau, Col. Doc. V, no. 15 Return

  26. Ibid, VII/183 (cat. I, 1086) Return

  27. C.M. Boicu, Contributions to the History of Romanian Oil, Bucharest, 1971, p. 157 Return

  28. State Archives of Bacau, Col. Doc. IV, no. 114 Return

  29. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau City Hall, 1833 Return

  30. Verax, Literary Works, table LXV Return

  31. State Archives of Iasi, Literary Brief D/55, p. 51-54 Return

  32. State Archives of Bacau, 1852, p. 35 Return

  33. B.A.R., C.C – 167. See also Manascu Cotter in Mozaic Cult Magazine, no. 311/1973 Return

  34. State Archives of Bacau, Col. Doc.packet 11/98 and The Romanian Bee, Iasi, no.39/1832 Return

  35. The Official Moldavia Bulletin, Sep. 13, 1833, p. 101 Return

  36. C.M. Boicu, Literary Works, p. 324 Return

  37. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau City Hall, brief 178/1845 Return

  38. Ibid, Bacau Court House, letter J, Tr. 346, work 372, no. 186, from Jan. 2nd 1835 Return

  39. Ibid, brief 10301, file 115, 117, 121 Return

  40. The Bulletin, Offical Paper, 1853, p. 267 Return

  41. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau City Hall, brief 178/845 Return

  42. Ibid, Bacau Court House, Inv. 276, Tr. 580, work 63, no. 32, letter J, brief 2701 Return

  43. The Bulletin, Offical Paper, Iasi, no. 35 May 6th 1857 Return

  44. State Archives of Bacau, Col. Doc.packet X/6 (cat. II, 1419) Return

  45. Ibid, packet X/162 (cat. II, 1400) Return

  46. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau Court House, Tr. 2086, work 232, no. 71, brief 110 Return

  47. State Archives of Bacau, Col. Doc.packet IX/162 (cat. II, 1400) Return

  48. State Archives of Bacau, Col. Doc.packet X/2 (cat. II, 1480) Return

  49. Ibid, packet V, no. 141, (cat. I, 664) Return

  50. Ibid, packet LV, 9 (cat. II, 1269) Return

  51. Ibid, packet IX, no. 155 Return

  52. Ibid, packet X, no. 123 Return

  53. Ibid, packet X/123 (cat. II, 1629) Return

  54. Verax, Literary Works, p. 376-377 Return

  55. State Archives of Iasi, States Secretary of Moldavia, no. 1778, f. 21 Return

  56. The Bulletin, Offical Paper, Iasi, 1847, p. 464 Return

  57. Marius Mircu, The Tailor from the Back, Tel-Aviv, 1988, p. 462 Return

  58. State Archives of Iasi, brief 583/1843 Return

  59. Ibid, brief 154, March 23rd 1853 Return

  60. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau Court House, Tr. 371, work 462, letter J, brief 1973, no. 46 Return

  61. The Bulletin, Offical Paper, no. 41/1847, p. 226 Return

  62. Ibid, 1841, p. 202 Return

  63. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau City Hall, letter J, brief 297, Oct. 7th 1835 Return

  64. The Bulletin, Offical Paper, 1835, p. 609 Return

  65. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau City Hall, brief 113/1846 Return

  66. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau City Hall, brief 135, May 2nd 1832 Return

  67. State Archives of Bacau, 1848, packet IX, no. 3000 Return

  68. M. Soutzo, Notions sur la Moldavie, 1849, p. 22 Return

  69. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau Court House, Tr. 341, work 462, brief 1989 Return

  70. Ibid, Inv. 59, brief 2504, Jan. 18th 1838 Return

  71. Ibid, Inv. 276, Tr. 769, work 873, Letter J, no. 8, brief 3591, Oct. 27, 1841 Return

  72. State Archives of Iasi, Bacau Court House, Tr. 731, work 320, brief 3517 Return

  73. I. Psantir, Lecorot haiehudim be Rumania (Regarding The History of Jewish People in Romania), Lemberg, 1873, p. 142 Return

  74. Yearbook for Jewish People, year V, Bucharest, 1881-1882, p. 69-70 Return

  75. Manascu Cotter, in Mozaic Cult Magazine, no. 311/1973 Return

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