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[Pages 41-48]

B. The History of the Jewish community of Roman

Translated by Emil Lax

I. Historical evolution of the community of Roman

In his book, Professor S. RIVENZON recalls also the famous and controversial meggila (scroll of rememberance), found in the collection of Mr. M. SCHWARTZFELD, who narrates an episode that transpired at Roman in 1573, during the time of Ionaşcu Vodă Armeanul (Ion Vodă cel Cumplit). Accomplished experts in paleography who examined the document concluded that the meggila was genuinely authentic. Domestic Jewish chroniclers, Mr. M. SCHWARTZFELD and later on Dr. M. A. HALEVY, utilizing more adequate means of research and based on historical considerations deduce that it was a masterpiece apocryph. Why would have the author chosen exactly the city of Roman? Because Roman was one of the earliest cities inhabited by Jews in Moldova.[1]

The first leader of a Jewish community in town was Leiba, the churchwarden of Jews (1790) one of the debtors to Squire Constantin BALŞ.

In general, a Jewish Community (kahal) was engaged in operating schools, hospital, cemetery and other Jewish institutions, also being the representatives of the community in its relationship with other ethnicities among whom they dwelt. In Moldova, the community also was responsible to pay a levy on behalf of the Jews from that community. The leadership of the Jews of Roman was composed of 14 individuals who were involved in the running of the school, hospital, synagogues and cemetery.

They paid, in the times of Nicolae Suţu, a state tax of 60 (sixty) ducats, for 562 Jews, it is believed that it probably meant 562 heads of household, Jews being known under the description of Clasa dahnicilor.

Prior to N. Suţu, the amount paid as taxes by the Jewish community to the Roman sămeşiei was unknown. This method of collective/communal payment (called cisla) was maintained till 1848, when a disposition of the rulers obligated all inhabitants to an individual levy. Although for Peatra Neamţ we have documentation of the collective taxation system in 1859. The community sustained the following positions: Rabbi, school teachers, hospital physician. The available documents reflect only a more recent listing of the officers of the Community of Roman i.e. which functioned between 1870-1880, and was composed of: Lupu DAVIDOVICI, Ira HANDMAN, Haim JALLER, Haim GĂLĂŢEANU, David ABRAM.[2]

Documents from the end of the previous century show that “because the disorganization of the Community and the internal conflicts, the maintenance of the hospital suffered, the bath was not built, and help to needy families was lacking in success.[3]

The conflicts mentioned above arose between the students who wanted civil rights and assimilation on one side and the leadership of the community, conservative, opposed to assimilation, but not without argument. The local authorities supported the community.[4]

A statute of the local community was enacted in 1906. The Jewish Community of Roman consisted of Jews domiciled in Roman and the villages on limitrofe: Elisabeta Doamna, Caro I and Cotu-Vames. The city hall of Roman supervised the administration of the community and controlled it from a financial point of view.

The Community operated the hospital through the hospital committee, the school, through the school committee and its real estate: the Bath, Mănutanţa, the houses with waste lands from Miron Cosatin Street, the land plots in Principalele Unite Street, through the committee of supervision of chattels.

In March 1906, the city hall dissolved the existing board, establishing an interim one composed of the following gentlemen: Oisie VIGDER, Isac AVRAM, Iosef ZINGHER, Zeilig GELBER, Moise ZISMAN, Leizer KOFLER, Simon HIRSCH, Iancu GRIMBERG and Mayer ROTHENBERG. On 21 January 1907 at city hall, the election of the Jewish Community Board took place. From 800 voters 210 voted. Declared elected for three year terms with 109 votes were: Iohan ZISSU, I. EDELSTEIN, S. KRAMER and Noel BRING.[5]

As it was stated in a Jewish newspaper: In the last few decades, there seems to exist a lot of apathy and incompetence. The administration founded on the basis of a defective statute, could embezzle funds raised with sacrifices by certain members for the building of a school, leaving in their footsteps certain deficits. This state of affairs lasted till May 1905, when several members called on City Hall , the Mayor being Mr. Dr. RIEGLER, asking for intervention under Article 50 for the organization of urban communities…” The 1907-1908 budget reflects that the main income of the Community originated from:

  Dues voluntary lei 38,000.00
  Bath revenues 5,730.00
  School tax/tuition 3,500.00
  Rent income 200.00
  Miscellaneous 3,518.00
  Total 50,948.00 lei

Expenses augmented to 49,207 lei from which:

  Stipends (1 Rabbi, 7 hahami) 9,903.60
  Personnel ad-tiv 1,290.00
  Supervision hospital 9,613.60
  Supervision schools 1,650.00

The committee was composed of :

  President M. STEIN
  Treasurer Iosub ZINGHER
  Pres. School Committee M. ZUSSMAN
  Members Israel ADELSTEIN
    W.I. SCHWARTZ
    Iancu GRUNBERG[6]

In 1910, the new committee initiated a fundraiser for a new school, and began the works for the construction of a new site that incorporated a Jewish school for boys, a hospital, an asylum and a central bath. All the buildings belonging to the community were appraised at 200,000.00 lei.[7]

In 1920 the new committee, aware of the lack of funds, decided to make an enterprise out of the ritual slaughtering of poultry and cattle, hoping to raise approximately 200,000.00 lei to be used for the upkeep of schools and clergy.[8]

Lack of funds was to continue even in 1926, when the committee met to settle the differences between the “Holy” Society and the Community. On behalf of the “Holy” Society participated: Iancu GROS, Bercu ZINGHER, Mauriciu ROSENBERG, and Dr. Ioseph WACHER, and on behalf of the Community, Attorney Arnold CRAMER, Iuliu IŞTEIN, and Herman ENGHELBERG. The arbitrators were Attorney Maximilian SCHOR, Attorney Marcel ZINGHER, and Suchard RIVENZON. The Community demanded that the “Holy” Society should turn over its surplus funds to the Community and its budget thus becoming an item on the Community budget. The Society's representatives/attorneys felt that this proposal would infringe on its own autonomy. The arbitrators reached a compromise; The “Holy” Society will be administerd by a committee composed o two Community members, legal members and seven members elected by the Society. In the code of 1926 the characteristics of the churchwarden from the prior statute were kept, the tutelage of the City Hall disappeared and the Board of the Community was composed of 21 members divided into committees, to wit: administrative, religious, cultural, welfare, and holy sites.

Each committee was composed of five wardens, the administrative one of six, all committees constituted the Board of the Community. On 27 February, 1927 the slate advanced by the Community together with the Society was elected.

– Administrative Committee: Solomon JOSEPH, Carol BRAND, Moise Abramovici, Moise SECHTER, Leon FRIEDMAN and Smaie AIZIC.
– Religious Committee: Iţic WEISBUCH, G. LAZAROVICI, Leon GOLDENBERG, Iancu GRUNBERG and Filip NADLER.
– Welfare: Attorney Saul HERŞCOVICI, Haim ŞMILOVICI, Simon MOSCOVICI, M. EHTER and Leon SOLOVICI.
– Cultural Committee: L. HAIMOVICI, Leon STEIN, Ghedale MARCOVICI, Isac HERŞCOVICI and Buium MARCU.[9]
Community elections were also held in the years 1932, 1934, 1936, and 1938. According to the code of the Community of 1936, the Board was to be composed of four sections:

Adminstrative section: its mission being to maintain and oversee the communal institutions from an administrative point of view, to supervise the execution of the Board budget, exercising constant control over the income and expense and representing the Community in its relationships with other institutions, private or governmental.

Cultural section: its mission was to spread culture and encourage Jewish nationalism, love of country among the population, supervise teaching and education in the boys and girls elementary schools and in the Community nursery schools.

Religious section: was charged with the care for the religious life of the Community, to engrain the Jewish religious values in the Jewish strata , to care and maintain the religious institutions and traditions, and supervise the observation of rituals.

Welfare section: to maintain the hospital and communal bath; to maintain and administer pension funds and aid, and to promulgate the idea of monetary help in the heart of the Jewish population.

Community's budget was based on these income sources:

– Anonymous contributions
– Subsidies from regional and local governments
– Revenue from Matzah sales at Passover
– Revenue from ritual slaughter of poultry and meat
– Income from hospital, schools and baths
– Revenue from funeral services and tombstones
– Revenues from births and weddings.

In 1936 the Community had the following institutions: school for boys with 200 students, school for girls with 160 students, nursery school with 50 children, the hospital providing mostly free services to the Jewish population but also to non Jews, the only bath for the city and the cemetery. It sustained a school dining hall and a home for seniors.[10]

In 1940, with the occasion of Passover, a military canteen was organized where 250 soldiers and displaced Jews were served meals twice a day, lunch and supper.[11]

In June 1941, the permanent commission of the Community Board formed a committee for the resettlement of refugees composed of: Uşer BERAM, Avram GHERTNER, Meer IOSUB and A. BAYER. Another committee was responsible for the “organizational work”. Attorney Arnold CRAMER, Rabbi Mendel FRANKEL and B. FRIEDMAN. The committee led by Simon KISLER was responsible for the organization and operation of a canteen to feed the needy. Delegated with the duty to raise funds for the benefit evacuees were: Rabbi M. FRANKEL, Iulius VIGDER, Leon VIGDER, Leon GRUNBERG and Lazaar BLECHER.[12]

Certain publications describe the activities of smaller communities within the former Roman region. In 1932, the Jewish Community of Băceşti- Roman became a judicial entity and its interim Board was composed of Haim HAIMOVICI-president, S. SUFRIN, B. MOSCOVIC, Lazar KERN, B. GRUNBERG and S. LAZAR members. In 1937, the village of Băceşti had a Hebrew school, and a bath maintained by the Community the president at that time was H. HAIMOVICI and secretary L. HERŞCOVICI.[13]

 


Footnotes

  1. Suchard RIVENZON, The Jewish School of the Village of Roman, Printer Beram-the father, Roman, 1943, p5. return
  2. Sami WECSLER-Contribution to the MONOGRAFY of the Roman Jewish Community, 1928, m.s. return
  3. “Brotherhood”, year II, nr. 43/8,August 1887 return
  4. “Israelite Magazine”, year V, nr. 11/15, VI 1890 return
  5. “Equality”, XVIII, nr. 4/26. I.1907 return
  6. “Israelite Courrier”, year II nr, 63/19.IV.1908 return
  7. “Jewish Nation”, nr. 8/15.V.1910 return
  8. “Morning”, year XXII, nr. 5094/23.IX.1920 return
  9. “Our Rebirth”, year III, nr.162/5.III.1927 return
  10. The almanac of the newspaper “The Jewish Tribune”for year 5698 (1937), Iaşi, 1937. In 1936 the composition of the Board of the Community was:
    President—Attorney Arnold CRAMER,
    Secretary- M. RINTLER , and
    Members- Attorney A. GHERTNER, David LAUFER, M. SCHACHTER, Zalman BERCOVICI, Iancu POILICI, Avram HECHT, Michel BRUCMAER, Solomon BERAM, I. BENTIN, Smaie AIZIC, Haim SMILOVICI, Avram SOLOMON, Lazar BARASCH and Moty Pinsler.
    return
  11. “Our Rebirth” year XVI, nr. 711/18.V. 1940 return
  12. Archives of Neamt State, Fund Jewish Community of Roman (A>S>N>F>C>E>R>), file 24/1941; President of the Roman affiliate was Mauriciu DANIEL and the General Secreatry, Mauriciu ROSENBERG. return
  13. “The Jewish Courier”/19.VI.1932, “Jewish Annals of Romania”, 1937 return

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