REGHIN (also Reghinul Sǎsesc; Hung. Szászrégen; Ger. Saechsisch-Regen), town in northwestern Romania, Transylvania. The inhabitants of Reghin included Romanians, German-Saxons, and Hungarians. The city was founded in the 13th century by German (Saxon) and Romanian settlers. Although Jews began to settle there at the close of the 18th century, an organized community was established only during the middle of the 19th century, probably in 1849. The majority of the Jews came from Bukovina and Galicia. As a result of the battles during the Revolution of 1848 against Austria and the riots in Transylvania, Reghin and its Jewish population suffered severely. The first Jewish settlers, who arrived mainly from Bukovina and Galicia, were Orthodox, and the community remained Orthodox throughout its existence. Ḥasidic influence was also felt. Besides the synagogue, there were two prayerhouses (kloyz) where the Ḥasidim used to pray and had their own rabbis. A prominent figure in the community during its early years was the Orthodox rabbi Hillel Pollak (who was spiritually close to the extreme Orthodox rabbi Hillel *Lichtenstein).
A Jewish elementary school was founded in 1874. (Later it ceased its activities but was reestablished in 1910 and functioned until 1940.) The language of instruction in the school was Hungarian until 1918 after which it was Romanian. In 1885 the community became the administrative center for all the Jews of the district. The community numbered 282 in 1866, about 40 families in 1889, and 394 persons (about 7% of the total population) in 1891. Jews engaged in commerce, industry, and crafts. Their trade and industry were mainly connected with timber and some of them owned sawmills; there were also unskilled Jewish workers employed in the timber industry. The institutions of the community assisted the poor. Some of the Ḥadarim established by the community translated the Pentateuch into German instead of Yiddish in order to facilitate study of this language by the children. From 1919 there was considerable Zionist activity in Reghin, and many members of the youth organizations emigrated to Ereẓ Israel. The community numbered 1,587 (about 16% of the total population) in 1930, and 1,653 (about 10% of the total) in 1941.
Between the two world wars the Jews suffered from the nationalist and antisemitic activities of members of the Iron Guard, and from the official antisemitic policies of most of the Romanian governments. The change of rule in 1940 (from Romanian to Hungarian) did not bring with it any improvement, as was hoped by the Jews, who remembered their legal emancipation in 1867 by the Austro-Hungarian authorities.
Holocaust Period and After
In the summer of 1944 the local Jews were concentrated into a ghetto set up in a brick factory. Jews from the surrounding area were also brought there. From this ghetto about 6,000 Jews were deported to *Auschwitz by the Hungarian Horthiite authorities, at the request of the Nazi occupiers.
After World War II, in 1947 a community numbering about 820 was formed mostly by survivors of the death camps and other Jews who had arrived in Reghin from places in different parts of Romania. The community gradually declined as a result of immigration to Israel and elsewhere. In 1971 there were still some 20 to 25 families living in Reghin and even fewer in the early 21st century.