GALATI (Rom. Galaţi; Ger. Galatz), port on the River Danube, in Moldavia, eastern Romania, first mentioned in the 15th century. Jews first settled there at the end of the 16th century. A cemetery which has not been preserved, was probably established in 1629; another, recently restored, was established in 1774. In 1803, 72 Jews paid taxes. Until the beginning of the 19th century the ḥevra kaddisha was responsible for the communal administration. Following a *blood libel in 1796, outrages were perpetrated against the Jews. In 1821 Greek revolutionaries who entered the town set fire to several synagogues, and in 1842 there were renewed attacks on the community by local Greeks. In 1846 anti-Jewish outbreaks again occurred in which synagogues were looted and Jewish houses and shops were destroyed. In 1859, in a similar attack, many Jews were killed. In 1867 a number of Jews among those expelled from the country drowned in the Danube near Galati: the catastrophe provoked a storm of protest throughout Europe. The Jewish bakers were expelled from Galati for refusing to break the strike of their fellow workers and party members in 1893. The Jewish population numbered around 7,000 in 1841, 14,500 in 1894, 12,000 in 1910 (22% of the total), 19,912 in 1930 (20%), and 13,000 in 1942. Jewish artisans and merchants contributed considerably to the city's economic and commercial development. In 1895 a community association with legal recognition (1906) was founded. The Zionist Baruch Zosmer was elected deputy mayor in 1928. Among the rabbis who functioned between the two world wars and after World War II were Abraham Jacob Derbaremdigher, Jacob Margulies, and Isaac Schapira. Ḥasidic courts such as that of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Friedman also functioned in Galati. Before World War II the community had 22 synagogues, a secondary school, two elementary schools for boys and one for girls, a kindergarten, a trade school, a hospital, an orphanage, an old-age home, and two ritual bathhouses. In 1881–1919 Galati was the center of the Zionist movement in Romania. In 1926, the Zionist Revisionist Organization of Romania was founded in Galati. There was also a cultural-religious society, a Zionist society, a youth organization Ẓe'irei Zion, and a "culture" club. The Jews in Galati were subjected to constant persecution by the pro-Nazi authorities during World War II. The community was not destroyed during the Holocaust, but subsequently diminished through emigration. It numbered 13,000 in 1947, 9,000 in 1950, and 450 families in 1969, with two synagogues. In 2005, 252 Jews lived in Galati, with a synagogue, a kosher restaurant and a cemetery.
Monografia Comunitǎţii Israelite din Galaţi (1906); Almanahul Ziarului Tribuna Eyreeascǎ, 1 (1937/38), 260–3; L. Preminger-Hecht, in: Ostjuedische Zeitung, 10 (1928), no. 1107; PK Romanyah, 90–99. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: O. Lazar and S. Weinberg, in: SAHIR, 6 (2001), 11–27, idem, in: Jaloane pentru o viitoare istorii (1999), 227–31; FEDROM-Comunitati evreiesti din Romania (Internet, 2005).
[Haim Karl Blum /
Lucian-Zeev Hersovici (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.