BRAILA (Rom. Brăila, Turk. Ibraila), port on the River Danube, S.E. Romania; within the Ottoman Empire from 1544 to 1828, in which year 21 Jewish families were living there. Despite difficulties with the authorities the Jewish population grew after the annexation of Braila to Walachia and its development as an important commercial port. The number of Jews increased from 1,095 in 1860 to 9,830 (17.3% of the total population) in 1899. The majority were occupied in commerce and crafts; in 1889, 24.4% of the shops in the town belonged to Jews, and in 1899, 24.2% of the artisans were Jews. The first Reform synagogue to be established in old Romania was opened in Braila in 1863. This led to a division of the community until a unified central administration was reestablished in 1905. In 1930 there were 11,327 Jews living in Braila. Communal institutions then included a kindergarten, two elementary schools (for boys and girls), a secondary school for boys, a clinic, and a night shelter. In the Holocaust period, the situation of the Jews deteriorated. On Sept. 30, 1940, the entry of the Jews into the port was forbidden. On August 4, 1941, forced labor groups were organized which included men between the ages of 18 and 50. Many Jews were pauperized and the community had to help them. Two secondary schools were founded for Jewish pupils excluded from public schools. After the war (1947), 5,950 Jews lived in Braila, among whom were former deportees to Transnistria. The number dropped to 3,500 by 1950. In 1969 there were around 1,000 Jews in Braila, although most of the surviving Jews had settled in Israel. In 2004, there were 141 Jews living there, with a functioning synagogue.
N.E. Derera, Monografia Comunitatii Israelite din Braila (1906); S. Semilian, Evrei in cadrul asezarii Brailei acum o suta de ani (1936); Almanahul Ziarului Tribuna Evreiasca pe anul 5698 (1937), 266–69; PK Romanyah, I, 78–88; M. Carp, Cartea Neagra, 1 (1946), index; Pe marginea prapastiei, 1 (1942), 134, 224; W. Filderman, in: Sliha, 1 (1956), no. 4. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Ursulescu, Valori ale patrimoniului evreiesc la Braila (1998); FEDROM-Comunitati evreiesti din Romania (Internet, 2004).
[Eliyahu Feldman and Theodor Lavi / Lucian-Zeev Herscovici (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.