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Arad, Romania

ARAD, city in Transylvania, western Romania; until 1918 within the borders of Hungary. Jews are first recorded there in 1717. Regulations for the burial society were drawn up in 1750. Jewish occupations during this early period were mainly connected with producing and selling alcoholic beverages and the grain trade. In 1742 the leadership of the local community requested the intervention of the district authorities in order to improve its situation. The small community became important after 1789 with the election as rabbi of Aaron *Chorin , who officiated until his death in 1844. Chorin was born and educated in the Czech provinces of Austria, one of the more prosperous and emancipated regions of the country. He soon came into conflicts with the rabbis of Hungary, who preferred a more conservative and traditional way of life and behavior. Under his leadership, Arad became a center of the nascent *Reform movement in Judaism. He initiated the construction of a synagogue in 1828, established a small yeshivah, and set up an elementary school. He also encouraged Jewish youth to enter productive occupations. Due to his efforts, there were about 100 highly skilled Jewish artisans in Arad in 1841. In 1832, on Chorin's initiative, the first Jewish school was built in Arad, where study of the Hungarian language became compulsory. It was one of the first Jewish schools officially recognized by the Hungarian authorities. Even after Chorin's death, the community in Arad long remained a bastion of extreme Reform. The emancipation of the Jews in 1867 attracted many Jews to take active part in Hungarian economic, political, and cultural life, considering themselves Hungarians of Mosaic religion. The Jews of Arad took an active part in Hungarian public life (one of them, Dr. Ferenc Sarkany, becoming mayor of the city, even volunteered for the army during the World War I). At the end of World War I, however, a considerable number of Orthodox Jews settled there, and established a community. The Neolog rabbis in Arad were early supporters of Magyarization among the Jews; already in 1845 R. Jacob Steinhart delivered a sermon in Hungarian. The Zionist movement found support in Arad, and the "Jewish Party," after Transylvania became a part of Romania in 1919, also obtained many votes in the elections for the Romanian parliament.

Arad Jews shared the fate of the Jewry of Romania between the two world wars, suffering from increasing antisemitism. In the years of the Antonescu government the two Jewish communities – the Orthodox and the Neolog – united to be able to work better for the interests of their membership. The Jewish population numbered 812 in 1839; 4,795 in 1891; 6,430 in 1920; 7,835 in 1941; and 9,402 in 1942 (this last increase was due to the enforced concentration in Arad of Jews from the villages and country towns of the area by the Romanian Fascist authorities in 1941–42). The Jews from the Arad district together with those of the district of Timisoara were slated to be deported to the Belzec extermination camp in 1942, at the very beginning of a massive joint Romanian-German operation which targeted all the Jews from Regat and Southern Transylvania. On October 11, 1942, the order to deport the Jews of Arad was rescinded. Together with the majority of the Jews of Regat and Southern Transylvania the Jews of Arad survived the war.

The Jewish community of Arad numbered 13,200 in 1947. Subsequently, there was a progressive decrease due to emigration from the country, mainly to Israel. In 1969 the Jewish population numbered 4,000. At the outset of the 21st century it numbered a few hundred and continued to decline numerically.


MHJ, 3 (1937), 180; 7 (1963), 116, 226–31, 694; 11 (1968); 1038, 13 (1970), 193; L. Rosenberg, in: Jahrbuch fuer die israelitischen Cultusgemeinden (Arad, 1860), 32–59, 144–52; M. Carp, Cartea Neagraˇ, 2 (Rom., 1946), 55, 106, 115, 121, 200, 241–42, 363, 368; 3 (1947), 237, 341; Vágvölgyi, in: Múlt és Jövö (Hung., 1917), 296–305; PK Romanyah, 279–85. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Ancel, Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry during the Holocaust, 4, 104–5; R. Ioanid, The Holocaust in Romania (1999), 244.

[Yehouda Marton / Paul Schveiger and Radu Ioanid (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.