“Fagarash” - Encyclopedia of Jewish
Communities in Romania, Volume 1

(Făgăraş, Romania)

45°51' / 24°58'

Translation of
“Fagarash” chapter from Pinkas Hakehillot Romania

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1969


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Acknowledgments

Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Romania,
Volume 1, pages 331-334, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1969


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[Page 331]

Fagarash

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Romanian: Făgăraş, Hungarian: Fogaras. County capital in Transylvania, near the Southern Carpathian Mountains.
Most of its inhabitants are Romanians, with a minority of Hungarians and Saxons.

 

Jewish Population

Year Number Percent of
Jews in the
general
population
1856 286  
1891 485  
1910 514  
1920 457 6.7
1930 390 5.0
1941 267 2.5
1942 263  

 

rom1_00331a.jpg
The cover of the Register of the Community
(From the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People)

 

rom1_00331b.jpg
Cover of the Hevra Kadisha (Burial Society) Register
(From the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People)

 

Until the End of WWI

The beginning of the Jewish settlement

The Jews were not allowed to live in the town itself until the beginning of the 19th century, but we have documents testifying to the fact that Jews lived in the neighboring villages in the second half of the 17th century (during the last 40 years there is no Jewish settlement in these places). In 1690, Jews appeared before the local Court of Justice, and in the years 1698–1897 several Jews were engaged in the glass industry in the village Porumbacul de Jos. They were among the pioneers of that industry, and were known by their wealth and their respected lineage. The village Jews often visited the town for their business, or when they needed to appear before the authorities, but began to settle there only at the beginning of the 19th century. The first community was established in 1827.

The organization of the community

In the mid–19th century the Făgăraş community was the largest in Southern Transylvania; the Jews of Porumbacul de Jos and neighboring villages were affiliated.

In 1827 a plot of land was bought for a cemetery, and a Hevra Kadisha was founded. In 1859 a new and modern synagogue was built in Făgăraş

[Page 332]

(the “Cultus Tempel”), containing 84 seats. In 1861 the cemetery was enlarged.

The three community registers of that time (the Hevra Kadisha register 1856, the register of the seats in the synagogue 1862 and the register containing the minutes of the community management meetings 1864) are kept in the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem. There was also an earlier register, from 1827, which was lost – it contained a set of regulations and a list of members. The first rabbi of the community, Yehuda Silbermann (1855–1863) wrote a diary about the life of the community; it is a valuable source for the history of the Jews of Transylvania and is called “The Făgăraş Diary.” After Rabbi Silbermann, Rabbi Kahana–Kondor served until 1874. Later, in 1895, he tried to establish a Reform community in Budapest. Under his influence, the Făgăraş community joined the Association of the Neolog [Reform) communities at the time of the split of the Hungarian Jewish communities (1869). During the years 1875–1895 the community had no permanent rabbi.

In the 60s of the 19th century, a 4th grade school was opened by the community, where the children acquired, besides Jewish studies, general knowledge as well. The language of instruction was German. Later the school was officially certified as a community elementary school.

The economic and social situation

The Făgăraş Jews were integrated into the economic life of the town and contributed a great deal to its development. They were merchants, craftsmen, industrialists, doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, clerks and laborers. They took an active part in the public life in town and served as members of the municipal and regional councils; the chief doctor of the county was a Jew.

In 1916, during WWI, many Jews left the town and the district and did not return. Study at the Jewish school was interrupted as well, and was renewed only after several years.

Until the end of the 19th century, the Făgăraş Jews spoke German and only a few spoke Hungarian as well (the registers were written in German and Yiddish). At the beginning of the 20th century, the Hungarian language reached first place, and in the period between the two World Wars it became the mother–tongue of the young generation.

The Jews in the neighboring villages spoke Romanian as well; after WWII Romanian became the first language.

 

rom1_00331c.jpg
Pages from the Hevra Kadisha register
(From the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People)

[Page 333]

rom1_00331d.jpg
A page from the Hevra Kadisha register
(From the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People)

 

Between the Two World Wars

The economic situation of the Jews was satisfactory. They were involved in commerce and crafts, some of them were clerks and some 10 had liberal professions. There were no poor people among them.

The community was Orthodox; from 1926 the rabbi was Yona Levi. About half of the Jews were religious.

The institutions and organizations that were active at that time were: the Hevra Kadisha, the synagogue, a heder (Tora school for young children) the Miriam Organization for girls, a Cultural Association which had a large library, a branch of the Transylvanian National Jewish Organization, branches of various Zionist organizations among them WIZO, and an Orchestra.

By the end of the 30s of the 20th century the number of Jews in town decreased, in particular in the surrounding villages. This was mainly due to economic reasons, but also to the general decrease of the number of Jews in the region (the number of Jews in the regions with a Hungarian majority increased during that period, while in the regions with a Romanian majority the process was opposite).

The relationship between the Jews and the Romanians and Hungarians was satisfactory, and there were no cases of riots until 1940.

 

The Holocaust

When the “Legionaries” came to power, Făgăraş became the center of activity of the political extremists in the entire region. The Saxons organized in Nazi groups, and, together with the “Iron Guard” people robbed Jewish property and began violent activity.

In 1940–1941 about half of the Community property was confiscated: the offices, the apartments of the rabbi and the officials, the Culture Hall, the school building, the Shelter for the Poor, the Mikve and others.

After the failure of the Legionaries uprising, there was some improvement, but the economic situation remained as bad as it was before. Yet, the community maintained the elementary school for 16–20 children.

When the expulsions began, Făgăraş was the place where the few Jews from the county villages were assembled: Hălmagiu, Rucăr, Feldioara etc. They were not allowed to take anything with them, and were forbidden to continue their former occupations. So they became the economic burden of the community: 18 persons were supported by the community in that period of time.

In spite of the addition of the village Jews, the Jewish population of Făgăraş did not increase, because many residents sought shelter in larger communities. 60 persons were sent to forced labor; of those who were sent to Transnistria 3 perished. Some of the men, who were not mobilized for work outside the town, were employed in cleaning jobs, and some in the war industry.

After the liberation of Romania, many Jews left the town. Some settled in the big cities and some made Aliya to Eretz Israel.

 

rom1_00331e.jpg
The complaint of the Head of the District to the Prime Minister about injuries to the Jews at the time of the shops confiscation by the “Iron Guard”

[Page 334]

Until 1955, only about one third of the number of Jews who had lived in town in 1930 remained, and today no more than 30 Jews live in Făgăraş. The community still exists and the synagogue stands, but the community life is paralyzed.

BL”U

Sources

The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People RM 189, 190, 191
Yad Vashem Archives JM/1220, 011/18, (150–51)
M. Karp Archives I, 24, 25, III, 46

Bibliography

Magyar Zsidó Oklevéltát. Vol. VI 1, Budapest, 1960, pp. 864, 868.
Eisler, Màtyàs: Fogaras. Magyar Zsidó Lexikon, Budapest, 1929, p. 284.
Eisler, Màtyàs: A Zsidók legrègibb nyomai Erdèlyben, Kolozsvàr, 1909.
Carp, M: Cartea Neagră. Vol. 1, Bucureşti, 1946, pp. 141, 156.
Almanahul Comunităților Israelite din Ardeal şi Banat, 1936 – 1937, Timişoara, 1936, pp. 65 – 66.
Sitzungs–Protokoll fűr die Beschlűsse der israelelitischen Kultursgemeinde.
Grundbuch der Sitze und deren Inhaber im Foragascher Tempel.


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