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Bacau, Romania

BACAU (Rom. Bacău), city in Moldavia, Romania. A Jewish community is attested there in the 18th century. A ḥevra kaddisha was established in 1774. In 1820 there were 55 Jewish taxpaying heads of families in Bacau. The Jewish population numbered 3,810 in 1859 and 7,902 (48.3% of the total) in 1899. From 1803 to 1858 Isaac of Botosani ("Botoshaner"), who acquired renown as a miracle worker (ba'al mofet) was rabbi there. A talmud torah was founded in 1828, the Po'alei Ẓedek Tailors' Association in 1832, a Ḥevrat Gomelei Ḥasadim (mutual aid society; their minute books are in the YIVO Archives) in 1836, and a Ḥevrat Mishnayot in 1851. When the Jewish autonomous organization lost its official status in Romania in 1862, communal activity in Bacau also disintegrated. After 1866 Bacau became one of the centers of anti-Jewish agitation in Romania, and the community suffered frequent persecution. During the last quarter of the 19th-century secular education began to spread among the Jews of Bacau and at the end of the 1870s and beginning of the 1880s one-third of the pupils in general schools in Bacau were Jewish. The first Jewish elementary school was founded in 1863. The main occupations of the Jews in Bacau were commerce and crafts: of the commercial enterprises in the town in 1899, 563 (85.6%) were Jewish, and there were 573 (66.6%) Jewish artisans in 1901. Bacau was also a center of Hebrew printing.

The Jewish population numbered 9,593 (30.8% of the total) in 1930, of whom 50.8% declared Yiddish as their mother tongue. By this time the community had a well-organized communal framework. It maintained a kindergarten, two primary schools (for boys and girls), a hospital, an old age home, an orphanage, and a mikveh, as well as 25 synagogues. Bacau was also a center of the Zionist movement. Among the rabbis of Bacau was Bezalel Ze'ev *Safran (1866–1930), who officiated there from 1905 until his death. A ḥasidic center operated in the Leca Street synagogue.

[Eliyahu Feldman /

Lucian-Zeev Herscovici (2nd ed.)]

Holocaust Period

With *Antonescu 's rise to power, the Jews of Bacau were subjected to repression; their property and shops were confiscated, and a part of the Jewish cemetery was adapted for agriculture. When war against the Soviet Union broke out (June 22, 1941), the Jews from towns and villages in the district were driven from their homes and sent to Bacau, whose Jewish community did its best to help as the city's Jewish population rose to 12,000. The community kitchen dispensed 1,000 meals a day and 1,000 families received financial aid. The men were sent to Transylvania and Bessarabia on forced labor. In the spring of 1944, when the front was drawing near, the Jews were forced to dig defense trenches. Under Soviet occupation in the summer of 1944, all the local officials fled and the Jewish community took over municipal affairs, keeping law and order, burying the non-Jewish dead, running the municipal hospital, and paying the salaries of the municipal employees. The postwar Jewish population reached a peak of 18,000 but most subsequently emigrated to Israel. In 2004 there were 359 Jews in Bacau.

[Theodor Lavi]


Edmond (E. Schwarzfeld), Radu Porumbaru si ispravile lui la fabrica de hartie din Bacau (1885); A.D. Birnberg, "Comunitatea Bacau" (1888; mss. In YIVO Archives, New York); A. Lachower, in YIVOA, 10 (1955), 300–13; E. Feldman, in: Papers of the Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies, 2 (1968), 219–22 (Heb.); PK Romanyah, I, 10–17; M. Carp, Cartea Neagra 1 (1946), 66, 118; C. Cristian, Patru ani de urgie (1945), index; W. Filderman, in Sliha, 3 (1956). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Voledi-Vardi, Kehillat Bacau, Historiyah Yehudit Mefu'eret: Sefer R. Mayer Eibschuetz z.l. (1990); I. Kara, Obstea evreiasca din Bacau (1995); I. Iancu, Noi copiii strazii Leca, 4 vols. (1999–2004); M. Mircu, La noi, la Bacau (2000); S. Costachie: Evreii din Romania: aspecte geografice (2003), 45–65.

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