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

47°27' / 26°36'

Translation from Pinkas Hakehillot Romania

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1969


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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Romania,
Volume 1, pages 188-192, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1969

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[Page 188]

Falticeni, Romania

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Donated by

A city in the region of Baia, 22 kilometers from Suceava and 100 kilometers from Iasi, the capital of Moldova.
It is a transit point between Moldova and Bukovina. Its former name was Soldanesti as well as Somuz.
In Jewish sources, it is known as: “Faltishen, the city located on the Somuz River and on spring waters”.[1]

Jewish Population

Year Population % of Jews in
General Population
1803 1,500  
1831 3,200  
1838 4,152  
1859 5,767 63.5
1899 5,499 57.0
1910 4,751  
1930 4,216 36.6
1941 4,020 31.8
1942 5,085  
1947 4,700  

Until the End of the First World War

The Beginning of the Jewish Settlement and its Development

Falticeni was founded in 1779 during the time of Prince Constantin Moruzi. It was the first city in Romania that was founded by Jewish by the privilege of rights from the princes. The historian of the city, Artur Gorovei, mentions in his monograph three Jewish brothers who already lived there in 1772. He points out that the city that was to spring up in the future was indeed founded by the settlement of these Jews. In 1774, when Bukovina was annexed by Austria, several Jews from there came to Falticeni.

On July 1, 1780, the contract between the estate owner Ionita Basota and the Jews was signed, that permitted them to build a synagogue in their neighborhood on the condition that it would not look different on the exterior from any other house. They also received from him a plot of land for a cemetery. They were given permission to engage in commerce, and they were obligated to pay only the fixed taxes. The residents were forbidden to sell their houses without the permission of the estate owner. The contract was authorized by the prince and signed also by the boyars who owned the neighboring estates. It was noted that there would be no restriction on the number of Jews who would come to settle in the city, and that the power of the contract would be forever. The experiment of founding such a city was so successful that the prince granted similar rights to Jews of other towns as well. In order to attract other Jews to settle in the place, the estate owner added to the original rights, such as the right to raise animals for sale. He wrote a letter to the Jews of Suceava in Bukovina informing the of the privilege granted to them on his lands, and even requested the authorization of the Austrian authorities to verify his letter. He also invited Jews from Bessarabia and Galicia. Many Jews came to Falticeni from the nearby town Baia, having left after the floods of the Moldova River. Another wave brought Jews to Falticeni from southern Bukovina, having left due to the refusal of the Austrian authorities to lease estates and inns to Jews.

In 1810 the estate transferred to new ownership, and the boyar wanted to worsen the conditions of the original contract, but the “doyan” (the court of the prince) of Moldova refused to authorize the changes. In those days, the days of the Russian conquest (1808-1812), the owners of the neighboring estates demanded rights of ownership of the town, and each of them demanded lease money from the Jews. The Jews went took the matter to the courts, and the relations between them and the landowners became unstable and unclear. Some paid taxes to one person, others to another, and others did not pay at all. New synagogues were built then in stone buildings on the central streets without permission from the estate owners, but only from the authorities. This situation continued until 1823 when Prince Ionita Sandu Sturza granted the rights of ownership to Andrei Basota, the grandson of the first landowner. He wished to recover his losses from the

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fourteen years of dispute, and he abrogated the contract of 1780. At that time the Russians annexed Bessarabia, and many Jews of Bessarabia moved to Moldova. As a result of this, the number of Jews in Falticeni grew. The estate owner signed a contract with the new residents, thereby raising taxes and adding new taxes. When he wished to do so with the veteran residents, they opposed it and also influenced the new residents to not sign the contract. When the men of the boyar came to collect taxes in the spring of 1825, the Jews chased him away with force. The estate owner won the legal battle after a long period of investigations and litigation. The prince cancelled the contract of 1780 and authorized the new statutes. The Jews disputed the new additions to the charter for a long time. They brought in the consuls of Austria and Russia, for several Jews were citizens of those countries. Only in 1836 did they come to an agreement with the estate owner, to purchase from him the center of the town in which they lived. The Bessarabian poet Constantin Stamati also requested the assistance of the Russian consul after an estate next to Falticeni, called Ciurea, came to his possession as an inheritance. He requested permission to set up a city like Falticeni on his estate. His claim was that the head of the estate supports the Jews there, and as a result, the Christian population is forced to “purchase bread and meat in a loathsome fashion from the Yids”. His request was refused by the merchants' organization.

During the times of the revolt of the Greeks (1821) , many Jews fled from Moldova to Bukovina. When the revolutionaries approached Falticeni, they summoned the leaders of the community and demanded that they pay ransom money – and if not, they would level the city. The amount demanded was more than the community could afford. Therefore, the revolutionaries imprisoned and tortured the communal leaders. Later, they entered the city and took the Jews who were there to the monastery of Targu Neamt. There, they tortured them and finally murdered them. The city was pillaged and burnt. The Turkish army that arrived in the meantime freed the communal leaders.

When the expulsion of Jews from the villages began in 1882, Falticeni and its environs were a prime location for pogroms on account of the cruel police chief that was there, who was appointed as vice trustee of the region. In several villages, the Jews attempted to rise up against the expulsion, but it was in vain. Some of the Jews who complained were imprisoned.

Economic Life

In the middle of the 19th century, Falticeni was known for the large fair that took place there. It lasted for three weeks, and was considered one of the largest in Europe. The fair served as a meeting place for merchants who came from across the border.

Most of the Jews of Falticeni were tradesman. In commerce, the Jews played an important role in the export of lumber and hides, the prime products of the region. The Bank of Suceava and the small scale credit bank were founded by Jews, as well as several tanning enterprises and two printing houses. In 1910, there were 291 merchants, 104 tailors, 83 shoemakers, 20 smiths, 25 carpenters, and 236 practitioners of various professions.

The community was first mentioned as a body in 1780. In 1782, its leadership consisted of 14 members. A mikva (ritual bath) was founded in 1857, and served as the only bathhouse of the city. The hospital of the community was founded in 1857, and in 1882 it had 20 beds. In the medical audit of the hospital of the community that was published in the official newspaper of the government in 1892, this institution was praised with respect to the national hospitals. The dedication of the Jewish community to the hospital was also noted. A new building for this institution was erected in 1894.

In 1900, the Interior Ministry canceled the meat tax that was collected by the community, and permitted only the city hall to collect such taxes, to appoint shochtim (ritual slaughterers) and to pay their salaries. The community appealed against that decision and claimed that it could not maintain a hospital and two schools. In the appeal, it was stated that among the 1,500 heads of family in the community, the majority were lacking in means, only a few were wealthy, and none at all were members of the middle class. In 1908, the mayor appointed a new communal leadership, with the pretext of irregularities of monetary matters of the community. The previous leadership complained to the trustee of the region. The Interior Minister decided that the mayor was not allowed to become involved in affairs of the community.

At the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War, only 600 of the 1,200 heads of family paid direct taxes to the community. The rest of the income came from the meat tax, the Chevra Kadisha (burial society) and rental income from buildings that were owned by the community. The income of the bathhouse covered the needs of the hospital. There were two cemeteries owned by the community – the old and the new. The latter started burying in the year 1870.


There were 11 synagogues and prayer houses in Falticeni: The Great Synagogue, the Synagogue of Chabad Hassidim, the Rabbi Tabarski Synagogue, as well as the synagogues of the tailors, the shoemakers, and others. The Great Synagogue was built of wood, and was rebuilt in 1852. This synagogue was splendid, with wall drawings and decorations.


rom1_189.jpg [31 KB] - The Great Synagogue
The Great Synagogue


From among the rabbis, we should mention Rabbi Efraim HaLevi Horwitz, who ascended the rabbinical seat in 1846. He wrote a commentary on the Socher Tov Midrash of the book of Psalms (Lvov

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5611 / 1851). He died in Falticeni in 1864. Serving after him was Rabbi Yehoshua Falk Zeev Wolfsohn (born in 1835)[2], the author of books on morality, exegesis and Jewish law. His books include “Aniya Belev Yam” (A Boat in the Heart of the Sea), Falticeni 5640 / 1880; “Maayanei Hayeshua” (Wellsprings of Salvation), sermons (Lvov, 5647 / 1887); “Pliot Chachma” (Wonders of Wisdom), Drohobyce, 5667 / 1907; and “Torat Haadam” (The Torah of Man), Ungest, 5664 / 1904, Jerusalem 5669 /1909). Another important rabbi was Rabbi Avraham Aryeh Rosen, a descendent of Rashi and a scion of an important rabbinical dynasty. He was the father of the present chief rabbi of Romania, Dr. M. Rosen[3]. His books include Shaagat Aryeh. Rabbi Shimshon the son of Rabbi Moshe Tenen (born in 1857) also served. His books include “Midot Chachamim” (Traits of the Sages), Sziget, 5669 / 1909; and “Ziv Hashemesh (The Splendor of the Sun), Sziget, 5670 / 1910.


Among the illustrious personalities who were natives of Falticeni, we should point out the traveler Yosef Binyamin (1818-1860) who was known as Benjamin the Second.[4] In 1844, he set out on a tour of Asia, Africa, and America in order to find the dispersed Jewish people. He described his travels in his book: “Three years in America” (1863).


The first experience to found a modern school in Falticeni took place in 1860; however the Orthodox circles objected to this, and the wealthy Jews sent their children to study in nearby Bukovina. A public school was opened in 1866, after a struggle with the Orthodox. However, it was closed after two years. Its principal was Reb Simcha Rabner (born in Lemberg in 1829), who published poems and translations. A Talmud Torah was opened in 1874, where students also studied Romanian from a Christian priest. In 1880, 100 students studied there, and in 1882, 300 students. Most of the students in the government school for girls were Jewish in those days, as were half of the students of the Romanian school. All of the cheders were closed by the authorities in 1896. As a result of this, a community school was founded by the community in 1897. 350 students studied there. The students of the cheder moved to study in this school. Therefore, it was closed by order of the Ministry of Education in 1899, but it was reopened that year in a new form. In 1899, a school for girls was opened through the I.C.A. (Jewish Colonization Organization). 168 students studied there.


rom1_00190a.jpg [21 KB] - Houses in the poor area of the Jewish Quarter
rom1_00190b.jpg [21 KB] - The School of the Community
Houses in the poor area of the Jewish Quarter The School of the Community


The development of the community's schools was like a thorn in the eyes of the community. In 1903, the Ministry of Education reported that there are too many students in the girls' school of the community, and forced the leader of the community to be fired because of this.

In 1910, 477 students studied in the schools of the community. 98 students attended public schools.

The Zionist movement struck roots in Falticeni even before the time of Herzl. In 1898, the Bnei Zion organization had 175 members. The police forbade Zionist gatherings. A Zionist organization named for David Wolfsohn was founded in 1908.

Persecution of Jews

In 1916, several leaders of the Jewish community were arrested with the charge that they corresponded with their relatives abroad in the Yiddish language. On July 27, 1917, approximately 40 Jewish women were arrested. The police informed them that they must leave the city immediately, for they have relatives in Austria. The relatives proved that they had been residents of the city for 20-25 years, and they have no connection with their relatives in Austria. Furthermore, the husbands of a few of them were drafted in the Romanian army and were at the front. Nevertheless, they were taken by force, loaded upon cattle cars, and sent to wander for several days, until they stopped in a field, where they were taken out of the trains. They went to the nearest city by foot. Several old women died from the tribulations of the trip and from hunger. On Yom Kippur 5678 (1917), they were sent back to Falticeni, after two months of suffering and wandering.

Between the Two World Wars

The Economic Situation

After the annexation of Bukovina by Romania (1918), Falticeni was no longer a border city. As a result of this, its importance declined as well. The economic decline was felt in the city. The number of Jews also dropped, as is shown in the population table. The economic situation of the remaining Jews also worsened. This is illustrated by the fact that an old age home was established in 1922 through the efforts of several heads of the community, in order to give shelter to the homeless who were formerly well to do, and had lost their livelihoods as a result of the new situation.

[Page 191]

Communal Life

After the emancipation, and until the time of the ascension the regime of Goga Cuza[5] to the government, Jews also participated in public and political life. There were 4-9 Jewish members of the city council, and the vice mayor of the city, Adolf Baier, as also Jewish. He later donated his entire fortune to the Jewish community and also donated to the civic museum.

The participation of Jews in general political life had a negative influence upon the community. Leading up to the 1922 parliamentary elections, a significant group of Jews supported the Liberal Party. On account of the claim that the communal leaders used their influence toward the Jewish vote, this party received a command from the mayor of the city to disband the communal leadership and appoint a new leadership from among the members of the party. (The former communal leadership was elected in free elections in 1919, and most of the votes went to the Democratic Zionist List). 400 Jews protested against the disbanding of the former leadership. At their invitation, the general secretary of the Union of Romanian Jewish Communities came from Bucharest in order to investigate the matter, but the chief of police forbade him from doing this. The disputes lasted for many years. The communal leadership was pushed aside and reinstated several times, as a result of the constant intervention of the city hall. Finally, the dispute was brought to the Ministry of Religion, which ordered the city hall to stop mixing into the internal maters of the Jewish community. In 1931, the mayor appointed a provisional leadership for the community. The former community turned to the courts who decided in their favor and even obligated the mayor to pay the court costs. After that, the mayor attempted to harm the community by bringing in shochtim (ritual slaughterers) from outside the city, who worked under the supervision of the gendarmes. The community, which did not receive its income from the meat tax, was forced to close the school and hospital, until the situation returned to its normal course.

In 1932, the community was granted the status of a jurisdictional body.

The final rabbi was Rabbi Yaakov Shechter Brezis (1937-1950).

The Anti-Semitic Movement

Falticeni had bands of the two streams of the Anti-Semitic movement, the Cuza party and the Iron Guard. The local gymnasium turned into a center for anti-Semitic activities through the influence of several of its teachers. In 1921, a decision was made to transfer the latter two grades of the gymnasium to another city that was “more Romanian”, for a significant number of Jewish students studied in the local gymnasium. In 1922, the teachers of the gymnasium requested that a Jewish student be expelled because he had stated that the best play in Romanian dramatic literature was the play Menashe by the Jewish writer Roneti Roman.

The Jews of Falticeni were for the most part supporters of the Jewish Party. In the parliamentary elections of 1931, this party received 497 votes. In 1932, gangs of members of the Cuza party roamed the streets in order to frighten the Jews and prevent them from taking part in the elections to the Romanian parliament. They called out, “We want the blood of the Jews”. A Jew named Yitzchak Nachum who stumbled into them on the street, was beaten to death by them.

After the ascension of Hitler to the government, anti-Semitic incidents took place. In 1936, gangs of the Iron Guard broke into the Jewish business area and pillaged Jewish shops. That year, Cuza gangs broke into the annual fair in order to prevent Jewish merchants from participating in the fair. The local police chief stood at the helm of these gangs. He hosted a reception for the members of the parading gangs after the disturbances.

During the Time of the Holocaust

During the regime of the Iron Guard, a “Green House” was set up in the center of town, into which the Jewish merchants were hauled. They were tortured until they paid money. Members of the Green Shirts snatched 16 year old Jewish youths from the streets and sent them to forced labor in the region.

On the eve of the outbreak of the war between Romania and the Soviet Union in June 1941, a German command was set up in Falticeni, which confiscated the synagogue buildings and used them to host officials and soldiers. On August 18, 1941, the Jews were ordered to wear the yellow armband. Those who violated the decree were liable to a year of imprisonment. They were also forbidden to purchase anything in the marketplace prior to 10:00 a.m. Concentration camps were set up in the city for all the Jewish men of Falticeni, as well as from the towns of Lespezi and Liteni, whose residents were deported to Falticeni. From there, 1,000 men were sent to forced labor in Bessarabia, primarily in the Tighina monastery. The wealthy people redeemed themselves with large amounts of money. 50-60 tradesmen were sent to the local brigade of foot soldiers. Approximately 30 Jews worked at forced labor in the civic hospital as gardeners, kitchen staff, and janitors. Later, all of the Jews were sent to forced labor in work regiments far from the city. Many Jews became completely impoverished. The community attempted to assist them, and even set up a soup kitchen. Several Jews perished from the difficult conditions that pervaded in the forced labor regiments. The Jews doctors were sent to Transnistria and other areas where typhus epidemics broke out.

Throughout the entire era, studies continued in the city in both the boys and girls school. The means of the community were insufficient to cover the needs of the families whose heads were taken to forced labor, as well as those who were deported from neighboring towns. To this end, they received a stipend from the Jewish central organization in Bucharest.

Already in 1941, many of the Jews of Falticeni made aliya to the Land of Israel. Many families who attempted to make aliya illegally on the Sturma ship, drowned in the sea.

When the Russian army approached the city in 1944, all of the residents were evacuated. The Jews fled to Suceava and Botosani. When they returned six months later, they found that their homes had been pillaged. Only approximately 3,700 returned from the 5,000 who were deported. The community faced difficult problems, since almost all of those who returned were lacking in means. A typhus epidemic broke out a short time after the deportees returned. The hospital had been pillaged of all its equipment, and the infirmary that was next to it had been destroyed completely. 400 of the 600 students of the school could not attend their studies because they were lacking appropriate clothing. After the ceasefire, a great deal of assistance reached the Jews from the Joint and the UZA[6].

The Christians returned later, and in the interim, the Jews renewed.

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the communal services of the city and the region, operated all the institutions, and later turned them over to the hands of the Romanian authorities who returned to the city.


rom1_192a.gif [37 KB] - A directive from the local army commander
A directive from the local army commander ordering
the Jews to wear the yellow armbands


The General Archives of Jewish History
RM 160.

The Yad Vashem Archives
03/773-Shin; 03/797/15-Nun; 03/1096/63-aleph;
03-1098/85-kuf; 03/1133/109/shin; 03/1433.
011/6-5. PKR/i-20 (71-02). IM/1220

Archives of W. Filderman
10a (191-192, 214); 32 (8); 45 (7,8,16,17).

Archives of M. Karp
VI 50,70, 94


Gotlib, Shmuel Noach: Oholei Shem. Pinsk, 5672, page 324.

Lavie Theodore: Romanian Jewry in its Struggle for Salvation.
Jerusalem, 5724 (1965), pages 28, 31, 1500

rom1_192b.gif [13 KB] - Bibliography

Translator's Footnotes

  1. This type of formulation is used on religious legal documents such as gittin (bills of divorce). Return

  2. This appears in the text as one name, without a comma, but it appears to be two separate names. Return

  3. Died in 1994. Return

  4. The first Benjamin would be Benjamin of Tudela, the famous 12 century Jewish traveler. Return

  5. A coalition between the politicians Alexandru Cuza and Octavian Goga, formed in 1935. Return

  6. “Joint” is the Joint Distribution Committee. UZA is the Uvshtshestova Zdarovia Yevreyev (Jewish Hygiene Organization). Return

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