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(Page 82)

Brăila, Romania (cont.)

Organizations:

The Peixoto Bnai Brith chapter, founded in 1873, was among the Jewish organizations that played an honorable role in Jewish life of Brăila. When the “Settlement of the Land of Israel” movement was founded in Romania, and the central committee of Bnai Brith in Bucharest worked against immigration and the settlement in the Land of Israel, this chapter stood strongly in favor of the movement. In 1898, the chapter protested the anti-Zionist stance of Bnai Brith of New York. Through its initiative, the “Malbish Arumim” (Clothing the Naked) society was founded. It set up a restaurant next to the school and distributed clothing to poor students.

Several national conventions took place in Brăila. The sixth convention of the general organization of Jewish natives of the Land, with delegates from 15 cities, took place on March 28-30, 1893. On December 26-27, 1895, the second national convention of Chovevei Zion took place, with delegates from 13 cities. On December 26-27, 1908, the convention of Jewish teachers of Romania took place in Brăila through the initiative of the Zionist organization. During that convention, a federation of all Jewish teachers was established, and they resolved to teach Hebrew as a living language.

Zionist activities:

The Jews of Brăila played an important role in the Zionist movement of Romania. The “Settlement of the Land of Israel” organization had a chapter there, headed by a committee of 20 members (1881). The merchants of the city donated generously to the immigration fund and to establish two settlements in Zichron Yaakov and Rosh Pina. In those days, the Montefiore youth group was founded. Longstanding disputes took place between it and the youth movement in Galaţi. In 1882, the “Lovers of the Holy Language” organization was founded. In 1893, a Chovevei Zion branch was founded with the aim of enabling several Jews to make aliya to the Land of Israel each year, by means of long term loans. In 1895, the Chovevei Zion chapter of Brăila was among the first to donate money for the establishment of a new settlement of the Land of Israel. Through the initiative of Rabbi Margulies, Agudat Achim was established in 1896 with the aim of settling 50 families in the Land of Israel. During the era of Herzl, the Zionists of Brăila opposed the leadership of national Zionism, which was headquartered in Galaţi. A mass meeting took place during the Sixth Zionist Congress, and a telegram was sent to the congress urging it to not replace the Basle plan with the Uganda plan. The influence of the Zionist organization upon all of the communal organizations was noticeable. For example, when the leadership of the community decided to restrict the hours of Hebrew study in its school in 1913, the local Bnai Brith chapter held a protest meeting against the decision.

The physician Dr. H. Moscovici was among the active people in the realm of Zionism. He began his Zionist activities when he was a student. He participated in the Zionist congresses in Basle, The Hague and Hamburg. He was elected to the world active committee in Hamburg. In the spring of 1910, he made aliya and settled in Rechovot, where he died in 1916.

 

rom1_00082a.jpg
 
rom1_00082b.jpg
The Shefer community high school
 
The Avraham and David Schwartzman
community public school for boys

(Page 83)

rom1_00083a.jpg
The Baroness Hirsch public school for girls

Dr. Sotec-Leteanu was also active in Brăila. He was a member of the central Zionist leadership in Galaţi, and one of the founders of Kadima in Vienna. He translated Pinsker's Auto Emancipation into Romanian. He was a researcher into the Yiddish Language and advised using the Latin alphabet for that language.

Journalism:

Many periodicals appeared in the city, some of them deviating from the local style. Elazar Rokach, a native of Safed and founder of the “Settlement of the Land of Israel” movement in Brăila, published the “Hamitzfan” weekly in Yiddish in 1897. In 1915, the Yiddish weekly “Der Hammer” was published by Poale Zion, and edited by Y. Botoşanski.

Several Jewish publications in Romanian also appeared in Brăila. In 1901 (until about November) the “New Correspondence of the Organizing Committee for Zionist Publicity” appeared. It was mainly in Romanian, but also included some articles in Yiddish and German. The bulletin of the “Maccabee – Dr. T. Herzl” Zionist organization appeared in 1904-1905. In 1908, “Yisrael”, a nationalistic Zionist bulletin, appeared, with the participation of Dr. K. Lippe. From 1911-1913, the bi-weekly “Israelite Journalism for the Protection of Jewish Interests, for Arousing Nationalist Consciousness, and Developing Jewish Knowledge in Romania” appeared.

In 1912, a research work on the subject of Jewish workers and tradesmen in light of legal restrictions by Andrei H. Mandelbaum was published.

Personalities:

The following people were among the personalities born in Brăila. Leon Feraru (born in 1987), published Romanian poems. He settled in Canada in 1913, lectured at the University of Toronto, and later was a professor of Romanian Literature in New York. The poet Ilarie Voronca, born in 1903, published ten volumes of poetry in Romanian. Later, he settled in Paris, where he continued to publish poetry in French. He was a member of the French underground during the Second World War.

Brăila was conquered by the Germans at the outbreak of the First World War. The Jewish population suffered difficulties due to the severing of business contacts with the outside. The German army snatched Jews for forced labor, making them build trenches and fortifications on the front.

Several members of the Jewish intelligentsia served as translators for the German Army. The Jewish merchants found ways to supply provisions to the residents. After the war, the person who had served as the vice mayor during that time published a book that praised those Jews who helped the Romanian population. A Jewish physician, Dr. Nestoreanu, served as a physician in the German prison camp in which many allies soldiers were imprisoned. He received a letter of appreciation for his successful work among the prisoners from the Red Cross at the end of the war.

At the end of the war in 1918, when the occupying German army retreated, the Jewish houses in the city were pillaged, with the pretext that the Jews had collaborated with the Germans.

 

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Community bulletin from 1932

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