BENDERY (Rom. Tighina), city in Bessarabia (in Romania 1918–40; 1941–44), Moldova. The presence of Jews there is first recorded in 1769 and a burial society, whose pinkas (register) is still extant, was founded in 1793. There were 101 Jewish families living in Bendery in 1808 (out of 331). In 1814 the ẓaddik Aryeh Leib Wertheim, son of Simeon Solomon of *Savran, became rabbi of Bendery; the descendants of the dynasty of ẓaddikim which he founded served as rabbis of Bendery until World War II. The Jewish population increased with the influx of immigrants into Bessarabia in the 19th century, numbering 4,297 in 1864 and 10,644 in 1897 (33.5% of the total population). Institutions of the community included a hospital founded in 1885, an old-age home, a secondary school founded in 1912, and an elementary school. In 1925, of the 1,526 members of the local Jewish cooperative loan-bank, 701 were employed in commerce, 363 in handicrafts, and 49 in agriculture. The economic situation of the Jews detoriated as a result of growing antisemitism, as the city was the center of Alexander *Cuza's Fascist Party. According to the official census, the community numbered 8,294 (26.4% of the total population) in 1930. The communal organization was dissolved and its institutions were abolished or nationalized when Bessarabia became part of Soviet Russia in June 1940.
Under Soviet occupation (1940–41), wealthy Jews were exiled to Siberia, as were wealthy non-Jews. With the beginning of the German-Romanian invasion, the Soviet authorities provided transport and many Jews fled to the interior of Russia. On July 4, 1941, the Romanian army assembled the remaining 700 Jews in the local castle, and shot them. After the liberation in September 1944, some 800 Jews returned, reestablishing the community, but they eventually left for Romania and from there Israel. In Bendery an agreement was signed between Germany and Romania, on August 31, 1941, concerning the plan to deport Jews to Transnistria.
[Jean Ancel /
Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]
Taubman, in: Koveẓ Besarabyah (1941), 90–96; Feldman, in: Sefer Yahadut Besarabyah. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: PK Romanyah, S.V.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.