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D. The Zionist Movement

At the beginning of the 8th decade of the XIXth century, Jews desired to become part of the Romanian society, although there were a series of inconveniences, politico–legal: Art. 7 of the Constitution of 1866, measures against “vagabondism,” expulsions, etc., and they still had the benefit of certain economic opportunities, public education, etc.

The 1897 Congress of Basel, where Theodore Herzl envisioned emigration and the founding of a Jewish state in Palestine, then belonging to the Ottoman Empire, was a direct consequence of the anti–Semitic activities in Central and Western Europe, proving thus, that assimilation was not providing a solution.[1]

The first Zionist Society established in the city, called “Chovevei–Zion,” in 1893 chose a board composed of: S. Moise Berman – President, Manase Berman and Sam Schlosse – Vice Presidents, Isidor Schiffer – treasurer, Iosef Weiss – Secretary, M.I. Schwartz and Mordhe W. Ruvinsohn – Comptrollers; M. Bring, B. Cofler, Sam Herscovici, Ch. Urband, Meyer Spekter and Manase Segall, members at large. On 21 February, 1899 a meeting of the Society took place in the city, at which its president, Iosef Weise spoke about the scope of Zionism, appealing to the members to subscribe/pledge to the Colonial Bank.

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In two days were pledged over 800 lei.[2]

The society met in April, in the Great Synagogue. Iosef Weiss, M. Braunstein, and I. Goldenthal took the floor. They deliberated on the development of the Zionist movement.[3]

On 18 December, 1899 a Zionist meeting took place, at the same synagogue, speaking was Isac Agent, who lectured on the idea of emigrating to Anatolia.[4] At the 5th World Zionist Congress at Basel, in December 1901, Horia Carp was the delegate on behalf of the Zionists of Roman.[5]

In 1903 a Zionist lecture hall opened in the city, as a result of the efforts of A. Sucher, L. Rapaport, S.S. Cheis (a socialist, probably “Poalei–Zionist”) and M. Handman. A. Sucher was elected president of the board. An appeal was launched in view of the increased strength of the Zionist movement.[6] In 1903, Noel Bring was the “Cremieux” and “Ahavas Zion” delegate to the Iaşi conference, and in the same year, Max Nordau represented the Roman Zionists at the 6th Zionist Congress in Basel.[7] The first wave of emigration from Roman is noted in 1886.[8]

In 1900, emigration continued: 100 Jews departed during the month of May, 50 were determined to travel by foot till Hamburg. The group of pedestrian emigrants arrived to Fălticeni; on 8 June another 64 emigrants departed.[9]

Due to poor crops of that year and the inevitable economic crisis, as a result of which Jews also suffered,

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Th. Herzl wrote to Noel Bring in Vienna: “Intervention is unfortunately impossible. Emigrants must expect the darkest misery in Austria. Please hold them all back. Herzl.”[10]

On the 13th of September 1903, a gathering organized by the Zionist sections took place at the Hebrew–Romanian School for Girls in the city. A.S. Rapaport spoke about the decisions of the 6th World Zionist Congress in Basel, in particular about the Jewish colonization of Eastern Africa (Uganda) project. The same issue was touched upon by the city Jewish delegate, Noel Bring.[11]

Regarding emigration we learn the following:

In 1920 an organization for emigration called “Achuza” was founded, in which 35 families registered.[12]

In 1940, the training sites of the local halutzim [pioneers] and of those who came here from other places were:

The 52 youths in team no. 1 were 17–20 years of age, from the cities of Moldova, as well as Bucharest and Craiova.[13]

In 1904, at the Hebrew–Romanian School for Girls, the Zionist organizations held a Chanukah celebration. Miss Sophie Davidovici lectured on Zionism and Noel Bring about Theodore Herzl.[14]

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In 1906, the following were elected as delegates from Roman to the “Cultural Conference of Zionists from Piatra Neamţ:” Noel Bring, S.S. Cheiz and A. Sucher (“Egalitatea”/3.II.1906). In 1909, the delegate to the 9th World Zionist Congress was Dr. Helfant, whereas to the Zionist conference of Galaţi, Noel Bring. Delegates from Roman also participated in the Galaţi Zionist conference on 10 to 11 May, 1915.[15] In 1920, the Zionist organization was lead by Attorney Maximilian Schor.[16]

In 1925, a major Zionist gathering was held at the Great Synagogue in town, which had the objective of expounding on the work of the Zionist Congress of Romania as influenced by “Renaşterea” [Rebirth].[17] In 1929, from the Regional Zionist apparatus for Upper Moldova was selected W.L. Schwartz from Roman.[18]

In 1941, Davidovici Iosif, commercial clerk from Băceşti–Roman, was deported to Tg. Jiu on account of Zionist activities. Nevertheless, in 1942, the Zionist organization requested and obtained renewal of activities, on behalf of Mr. Radu Lecca. Members of the committee were: Mr. M. Reznic – President and Leo Rohrlich, Rabbi Mendel Frenkel, Iosub Leizerovici and Solomon Sabo, members.[19]


Zionist Divisions for Adults

In 1899, in the village of Bara–Roman the Zionist organization “Ohavei Zion,” Dr. C. Lippe unit, was founded, with an initial membership of 52.[20] In 1902 the unit ”Ahavas Zion” is mentioned, which partially replaced, and completed the policy of the

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old “Chovevei–Zion” guard by purchasing land, funded by the collection of “shekels” (funds for building up the national homeland). The meeting took place at the site of the local Society “Ahavas Achim”. The talk was about “the ninth day of Av and the dispersion of the Jews” and about “the need for Zionism”. In December 1902 it celebrated Chanukah at the Jewish School for Boys, together with the unit “Cremieux”. They lit candles, they sang and speeches were made by Noel Bring, A.S. Rapaport, Simon S. Cheiz and Moses Handman. A fundraiser was made for J.N.F. (Keren Kayemet LeIsrael).

In February 1903 a general meeting of the unit was held at the site of the Society “Ahavas Achim”. A. Avramovici spoke about “Zionism”. The speech was followed by a discussion on cultural activities, in which participated: M. Handman, Noel Bring, A. Avramovici. Funds were raised for the J.N.F. In the same month another meeting was held at the same place. M.M. Krieghel spoke about “ritual killing” and Noel Bring about “Philanthropic Zionism” and “The Zionist philanthropy.”

The Zionist units “Ahavas Zion” and “Cremieux” organized a series of activities like fundraising, lottery, to help the poor population. The programs were initiated by Solomon Kofler, the Vice President of the unit, helped by Marie Gropper.

In July 1903, the unit organized a conference, featuring M. Handman, about “The vitality of the Jewish nation,” he also spoke in August about ”Pericope of the week,” The “accusation of ritual killing,” “New York and Jerusalem.” The first conferences were held at the

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“Bais Hadaş” synagogue, and the last one at the unit's headquarters. Noel Bring wished him success on behalf of the community, upon his departure to America to pursue rabbinical studies. The “Ahavas Zion” and “Cremieux” units organized a banquet with the occasion of M. Handman's departure.

On 27 June 1904, the same two units organized a requiem at the “Moşke” Synagogue in memory of Th. Herzl. The following spoke: Sol. Laufer, A.S. Rapaport, S.S. Cheiz, L. Weissbuch, Noel Bring and I. Goldenberg.

The “Cneses Israel” Society mailed a letter of condolences to Vienna.[21]

The “H. Rosenbaum” Zionist unit was founded on 1 May, 1906, with 35 members. Its president, M. Schweitzer and its secretary H. Rosner issued the following communiqué: The committee's meetings are held every Wednesday, regularly; the membership grew by 10 members; on the 2nd of July a requiem was organized in memory of Th. Herzl, a protest rally was held against the Bialystok massacres. The following spoke: L. Honig and Noel Bring; during the month several lectures were given, among them those of professors A. Rapaport and A. Suchar. On the 8th of July, Ire Keiss lectured at the Great Synagogue, of the tailors.

In December 1906 the united sections of “Cremieux” and “H. Rosenbaum” organized festivities of Chanukah at the Hebrew School for Boys, Noel Bring and Dr. Henic showed the significance of the holiday, comparing the Zionists with the Maccabean from the time of the Hasmoneans, demonstrating that the Zionist movement was the only capable of resolving the Jewish problem.

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On the 6th of January, 1908 the Zionist unit “H. Rosenbaum” was re–established. The newly voted committee was composed of: S. Solomon – President, and I. Weisselberg, Isac Iancovici, Benglas Zwicker and M. Grunberg.

The following year it also organized a Chanukah celebration, the following spoke: S. Solomon, A. Sucher, Dr. Helfant and Noel Bring.[22]

In 1921 the Zionist group “Th. Herzl” was mentioned, including about 300 older members, with activities limited to fund raising.[23]


Youth Zionist Organizations

On 11 April, 1899 a gathering of Jewish youth was held at the home of A. Liberman. On this occasion, a new unit of “B'nei Zion” was founded; its committee was composed of: Noel Bring – President, A. Liberman – Vice President, Isac Stein – comptroller and I. Keiss – Secretary.

In April the unit adopted the name “Cremieux”, in honor of the Jewish French leader Isac Adolphe Cremieux, holding on the 24th day of April a general meeting where S.S. Keiz, the secretary of the society spoke about “The rescue of the Jewish people through Zionism”; C. Goldenthal deliberated on the topic “The evolution of modern Zionism from 1894 to the second Congress of Basel”; A. Segall spoke about the “importance of Jewish resettlement of Eretz Israel”. The gathering was concluded by the president of the unit N. Bring.

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On the 3rd of May the final committee of the “Cremieux” unit was elected. It was composed of Noel Bring – President, A. Segall and A.I. Lieberman – Vice Presidents, Zigmund I. Goldstein – treasurer, S.S. Cheiz – First Secretary, H. Leport – Second Secretary, H.I. Bercovici and Jacques Zinger – advisory members.

At the general meeting of the 5th of May the following spoke: Noel Bring discussed the necessity of the Zionist struggle and the nurture of national history and language as the means of awakening national sentiment, Stein spoke about the lore/legends of the Jewish people; Leport about the current state of the Jews. On the 15th day of May the following lectured: I. Goldenthal – the principal of the Jewish school, about the Jewish character, and S.S. Cheiz.

In June, the activity of the unit was maintained through regular meetings on Saturdays, Zionist lectures, and the course of Jewish history given by Professor I. Goldenthal. The first collection of 35 “shekels” was initiated at the center. Th. Herzl congratulated the new committee for its activities and accepted the honorary presidency of the unit.

In September, at the Great Synagogue a Zionist gathering took place, at which the following spoke: Noel Bring, A. Segall and Sigmund Goldstein. They debated problems connected to the development of the Zionist movement in the city.

In November at the same location, another gathering was held. Dr. Henic spoke about the significance of the study of Jewish history and the Hebrew language. Noel Bring, the President spoke about the Zionist movement and the significance of the Colonial Bank, the students A. Segall and Sigmund Goldstein spoke as well.

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A new committee was elected: Noel Bring – President, Simon S. Cheiz and Sigmund Baer – Vice Presidents, Sigmund I. Goldenberg – Treasurer, Nathan Zalman – Comptroller, Osias M. Zagar – Secretary, Moritz Bercovici and Solomon Prialnic (Priacnic?) – Advisory Members.

On 14 December, 1902, the unit organized a Chanukah celebration. On 20 July, 1903 a gathering was held at the Great Synagogue, by the “Cremieux” and “Ahavas Zion” units. Noel Bring, committee member of the Zionist Federation, opened the meeting. Dr. Leon Ghelber (Vienna) spoke about a modern 9th of Av, relative to the events in Chişinău, underlining that the rescue of the Jewish population can happen only in Zion. Moses Handman spoke about the 9th of Av, from a historic point of view. A fundraiser was held for the JNF.

Noel Bring, born in 1874 in Roman, was a personality of the Jewish world, thanks to his efforts in the philanthropic arena and Zionist propaganda. He founded the “Cremieux” Zionist Society, whose president he was. He was at the helm of the local community and Vice President of the Society “Cneses Israel.” He was a supporter of Jewish emigration.[24]

On the 28th of September 1899, a Zionist association of young Jewish women, called “B'noth Sion” was founded, with the support of the “Cremieux” group. The founding meeting was presided by the local Zionist leader, Noel Bring. On the 3rd of October a committee was elected: Fanny Leibovici – President, Bella Hausknecht and Marie Honigsberg – Vice Presidents, Etty Avramovici – Treasurer, Marie Rosenberg – Comptroller, Clementine Honigsberg – Secretary,

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Mathilde Tzimand – Assistant, Debora Fillerman (Filderman?) and Clara Prinacnic – Counselors. At Noel Bring's proposal, it was decided that the group should be named after the Zionist fighter from New York – Professor Emma Gotheil. On the 10th of October 1899, the gathering of the feminine Society “Gotheil” took place at the local Jewish school. The following spoke: Miss Hausknecht about “The role of women in different times and their Zionist duty” and Noel Bring, about “The contemporary status of women.”

In February 1904, a series of lectures by Eremia Grunstein, speaker of the Zionist Federation Committee of Galaţi, was held. In Roman there were three lectures: two at the “Bait Chodoş” (Moşke) Synagogue and one at the Great Synagogue (on the days of 7th and 8th of February).

On this occasion, the foundations were set for a Zionist association of women and girls. “Shekels” were sold and funds were raised for the JNF.

In March of 1904 the committee of the Zionist unit, “B'nos Zion Emma Gotheil” was elected:

Marie Scharaga – President, Frida Akerman – Vice–President, Clara Schwartz – Treasurer, Eva Rapaport – Secretary, Renee Zisman – Comptroller, Mina Margulis and Rebecca Mayr – Advisors.[25]

Under the influence of certain young Zionists a lectures club was founded.[26]

In 1915, thanks to the initiative of several young people and following discussions held by Ira Keiss, the Zionist unit “Or Zion” was established, with a Borochov orientation. The youths were especially active in physical/athletic education.

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Funds were raised for the purchase of gymnastic equipment. Neither the political nor the cultural aspects were neglected. Funds were raised for the JNF. The unit had a library of Judaic literature.[27]

In 1927, a young Zionist circle was founded, called “Avodah,” led by Schiffer. In February of the following year, at the “Avodah” circle A. Mibashan lectured on the “Origins of the Jewish People”. Iulius Schaffer, President of the Zionist organization in the city, P. Weifel and B. Karpin spoke as well.[28]

In January 1928, the organization “Haşomer Haţair” of Roman organized at Dămieneşti, a Chanukah festival. In March 1928, a memorial was held for the Jewish fighter Yosef Trumpeldor. I. Rosenfeld spoke about his life and fight.

Part of this organization was also the well–known physician Joseph Fux, the author of “Surgery of the Pancreas”, published in Editura Medicală, Bucharest, 1957.

Joseph Fux was born in a modest home on 15th March, 1913, son of Moişe Fux, he was named Iosef (Joseph ben Moşe Hacohen).

During the third year of high school he joined the Zionist movement as a member of the “Haşomer Haţair” organization where he polished his knowledge of Hebrew and led a very active life which brought him to positions of leadership of the organization, along with his colleagues, Marcu Grunberg and Mayer Iosupovici.[29]

About the “Circle of the Zionist Youth” (C.T.S.) of Roman we learn from the 1928 writings of the student Sami Wecsler. After that, C.T.S. had the role of revitalizing, within limits, the local Jewish cultural life.

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The author wished that the second brochure published that year should be the beginning of the activity of those capable to educate Jewish masses, by starting a monograph of the community.

In 1940, Iancuşor Schwartz passed away; he was member of the “Hasmoneea” Committee from 1929 to 1930 and vice president between 1930 and 1931. Born into a Zionist family in Roman, he belonged to the Zionist wing of A.G.S.E. (Asociaţia Generală a Studenţilor Evrei = General Association of the Jewish Students) and the “Hasmoneea” Society.[30]

In 1921, Jewish pupils' Zionist organization “Agaezul Macabeii” is mentioned.[31]

All Zionist and Jewish organizations and associations contributed to the JNF (Jewish National Fund) and “Keren Hayesod.”

In this regard we shall mention some of these contributions. In 1903, M. Froimovici raised funds for JNF, in 1908, the “H. Rosenbaum” unit raised money for both funds. In 1921, “Comisariatul Fondului Naţional” [the Committee of the National Fund] was active in Roman under the leadership of Leopold Haimovici and Alfred Herscovici.

In 1922, fund raising activities for the benefit of these organizations were intensified. In 1925, in only two days they raised in the city 400,000 lei.

In 1928, in Dănieneşti, they organized “Comisariatul N.F.E.” [JNF Committee] headed by Solomon Rosenfeld.

To promote these activities, the following participated: B. Karpin (Berlin), M. Segal (Chişinău), I. Smoira (Tel Aviv) and Dr. D. Wilenski.

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In May 1940, “Hagalil” and “Keren Kayemet” actions were initiated with the participation of a special delegate from Jerusalem headquarters, Rabbi Roth. Also active were Attorney B. Caushanski from Iaşi, Mina Haimovici and I. Leizerovici, the director of JNF of Roman.

In 1942, even though the Zionist Organization was reactivated, it was forbidden to raise money for these funds. (see also “Neamul evreiesc” [Jewish Nation], year XIV no. 23–24/ 16.X. 1921, “Mântuirea” [Redemption] year III/no. 944/26.II.1922, “Renaşterea” [Rebirth], year I no. 28/29.III.,1925, “Ştiri din viaţa evreiască” [News from the Jewish Life] 27.III.1926, “Egalitatea” [Equality] 9.III.1928, “Ştiri din lumea evreiască” [News from Jewish World] 15.I.1928).


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