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

(Târgu Frumos, Romania)

47°12' / 27°00'

Translation of the
“Târgu-Frumos” chapter from Pinkas Hakehillot Romania

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1969


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 130-132, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1969

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[Page 130]


Translated by Jerrold Landau

Donated by Marlise Gross

A small town in the Moldova region, Iași district, on the Bahlui river,
31 kilometers from Pașcani, and 42 kilometers from the district capital.


Jewish Population

Year Population Percentage of Jews in
the general population
1803 280  
1820 396s  
1838 524  
1859 1,258 31.0
1899 2,123 45.6
1910 2,106  
1930 1,608 26.4
1941 1,618 20.9
1942 1,637  
1943 530  


Until the End of the First World War

Earlier, in the 15th century, Târgu-Frumos was the place of residence of the princes of Moldova. It served as the center of a small district by that name until 1830, and was liquidated after that.

Data from the year 1755 shows that there was already an inn under Jewish ownership. The taxes of the inn were given over by the prince to the church, which owned the land upon which the inn was located.

In the year 1763, the town was granted a charter of renewal of settlement by the prince of Moldova, Grigorie Ion Calimachi, after it had fallen significantly due to the high taxes. The prince called outsiders to settle there, and exempted their farms from taxes. The charter was primarily directed toward Jews, as “residents of the land” were forbidden from settling there under such conditions, under threat of fine. This is the first data from which we know that privileges were granted to Jews to attract them to settle in the town.

In a document from 1769, Târgu-Frumos is mentioned as a place in which “there are Jewish merchants of fuel and liquor, and in the weekly fairs, they do business with cattle, grain, butter, milk, honey, hides, flax, and canvas.”

In 1815, the prince Scarlat Alexander Calimachi authorized through a special contract the privileges granted to outsiders to settle in the town.

During time of the revolt of the Greeks in 1821, the Greeks killed two Jewish youths.

A bundle of documents from the beginning of the 19th century shows that Jews played an active role in communal life in the town. They were given responsible positions in running the town, and served on its committees. From other documents from that period, we learn that the local Jews purchased houses. However, at the end of the century, court cases began to take place, the purpose of which was to deprive the rights of real estate purchase from the Jews. To that end, the Romanian parliament also refused for a period of 30 years to grant the town the status of a city in which Jews would have the rights to purchase houses. In 1908, the judge of the town refused to authorize sales contracts of houses from Christians to Jews. In a lecture delivered in the Romanian Academy in 1911, the historian N. Iorga stated that the Jews invaded the town. This was despite the many documents that contradict such a claim.

In 1907, during the time of the farmers revolt, the local merchants union approached the office of the interior with the warning that the attacks of the farmers were fraught with danger. The army commander recommended that the Jews be evacuated, and asked them to leave the town so that they would not be hurt. However, this was not carried out.

At the beginning of March 1907, the farmers pillaged the homes and shops of Jews of the town, as well as their synagogue, in collaboration with members of the Lipoveni sect and led by the priest. 49 Jewish families remained without anything. After the disturbances, many of the Jews fled to Bukovina and Iași.

From among the rabbis who served in Târgu-Frumos, we will note Rabbi Shalom the son of Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke Taubes, born in 1825 and died in Botoșani in 1888. He was the author of the book Sheilat Shalom, (published in Zalkuva 5629 [1869]; Lemberg 5645 [1885]). Rabbi Eliezer Frisch also served in the rabbinate, as did his son Efraim (born in 1877), who ascended the rabbinical seat in 1909 after the death of his father.

{Photocopy of document page 130: A list of rabbis of the community.}

[Page 131]

At that time, the community owned a mixed school in which 224 students studied in 1910. Ten boys and nine girls studied in the government schools.

In 1910, the breakdown of the Jewish population of Târgu-Frumos by trade was: 143 merchants, 26 tailors, 37 shoemakers, 7 smiths, 3 carpenters, and 227 with other trades. During the interwar period, a few of the Jews of Târgu-Frumos were also involved in agriculture.


Between the Two World Wars

The proximity of Târgu-Frumos to the city of Iași, which was a center of anti-Semitism, influenced the population of the town and caused an increase in anti-Semitism. Disputes between Christians and Jews were a common occurrence. In May 1930, Professor A. Tz. Cuza and his son George arrived in Târgu-Frumos during the course of their election campaign. They were accompanied by a group of students who began to tease the local Jews. The Jews defended themselves in front of them, and as a result, nine were arrested. The supervisor of the political police who was sent there to investigate the incident wrote in his notes that it was the Jews who first attacked the students. He accused the World Zionist Organization of being responsible for educating the Jews to violent activity. In his summary, he recommended that all the Zionist organizations be liquidated, “for their intention is to bring Communism to Romania.”

M. Landau, who was a delegate of the Jewish party in the Romanian parliament, arrived in Târgu-Frumos to investigate the matter. When the issue came to the fore in parliament, and he spoke the truth about it, a scandal broke out. At the end, Dr. Rășcanu from the university of Iași and the mayor of the city of Iași, who were members of the opposition, accused the governing Liberal Party of supporting anti-Semitism.

In 1932, the community received official status as a jurisdictional body. The Cooperative Bank for Small Credit, founded with the assistant of the JOINT in 1927, and having 179 members, was among its institutions. It was one of the most organizations and active branches.

{Photocopy page 131 right: The title page of the Ledgers of the Chevra Kadisha [burial society].}

{Photocopy page 131 left: the seal of the community, containing the insignia of the country.}


During the Time of the Holocaust

When the Russians annexed Bessarabia and Bukovina in 1942, Târgu-Frumos became closer to the border. This led to persecution of the Jews, under the pretext that they were Communists and collaborators with the Russians. Member of the Iron Guard pillaged and stole the property of the Jews.

In the autumn of 1940, a decree was issued for forced labor of all Jews between the ages of 18 and 50. Many were hauled in cattle cars to labor camps in Tudoreni-Rechita in the region of Botoșani. There, they were made to work at backbreaking labor at diverting the Sinha river. Later, they were brought to Bessarabia to work in a quarry.

During the period of the war, the community set up an infirmary in one of the synagogues to serve its members. Likewise, the community supported 89 needy families, and also sent articles of clothing, shoes, and financial assistance to the units of forced laborers from the community.

One of the two “death trains” containing survivors of the pogroms of Iași (see entry)

[Page 132]

was brought to Târgu-Frumos. The wagons were opened, and the people were brought to the synagogue. The police chief stole their money and valuables from them. The police officers tortured them, and some were beaten to death. One of them had his head chopped off by a police officer. Jews of Târgu-Frumos from the forced labor units were forced to dig a mass grave in the cemetery for the bodies of the deceased, which were taken off the train. Some were buried alive. One of them, whom the Jews succeeded in saving, was killed by a shot from the policemen. The number of Jews of Iași who were buried in Târgu-Frumos was 650.

When the front approached the city in the spring of 1944, the Romanian citizens fled, and only the Germans remained. The Russians reached Costești (8-10 kilometers from Târgu-Frumos), and the entire town was turned into a heap of ruins during the cannon battle. Many Jews succeeded in escaping from the city during the time of the battles.

The advance unit of the Russian Army entered the town on June 8, 1944. However, they were repelled 36 hours later. Then, the Romanian soldiers took revenge on the Jews. Approximately fifteen Jews were killed in a cellar in which they were hiding. 150 men were taken and were about to e shot. They were only saved on account of a sudden change in the battlefront. Before the Germans left the town, they hid mines in the houses and set them off.

Only one third of the Jews remained in the city after the war, after most of the houses were destroyed from the bombardments during the time of the battles.


The General Archives of Jewish History RM 71.
Archives of V. Filderman 38 (135b); 45 (7, 16, 106-107, 110).
Archives M. Karp I, 53; VI, 27, 30; VIII, 315, 317.


Klausner, Yisrael: Chibat Tzion in Romania, Jerusalem 5718 [1958], page 270.
Chiriţã, C.: Dictionarul geografic al judeţului Iași, București, 1888, pp 226–27.
Lahovari-Tocilescu: Marele dictionar geographic al Romaniei, V, București, 1902, pp. 612–617.
Schwarzfeld, M.: Excursii critice, Analele Societãţii Istorice Iuliu Barasch, II,I. București, 1888.
Ploeșteanu [Schwarzfeld, M.]: Mãcelaru anchetator si referent, Egalitatea, 25.9.1930, p. 125.
Graur, Const.: Dela Darabani la Targu-Frumos, Adeverul, București, 6.6.1930.
Schwarzfeld, E.: Din istoria evreilor, împopularea, reîmpopularea și întemeierea târgurilor și târgușoarelor in Moldova, București, 1914, pp 17–19, 34.
Calimachi, Scarlat si Cris-Cristian: Cãlãtori și scriitori strãini despre evreii din Principatele românești, Iași, 1935, p. 48.
Tufescu, Victor: Târgușoarele din Moldova și importanţa lor economicã, București, pp. 92, 104, 105, 130, 140.
Schwarzfeld, E: Evreii sub zaverã, Anuar pentru Israeliţi, VII, București, 1884, p.23.
Schwarzfeld, E: Din istoria evreilor din România, VI, Anuar pentru Israeliţi, XIX, 1898, p. 82.
Carp M.: Cartea Neagrã, I, București, 1946, pp. 26, 177.


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