VASLUI, district capital in Moldavia, E. Romania. The oldest tombstones in the Jewish cemetery indicate that Jews settled there in the first half of the 18th century, most of them from *Bukovina and *Galicia, and from the 1850s many Jewish *Cantonists who fled from Russia. In 1851 two Jewish inhabitants were raised to the nobility (boyarhood) for service to Vaslui. The early Jewish population was joined later on by Jews expelled from villages in the vicinity of Vaslui (in 1867, 1889, 1901, and 1908). The Jewish population numbered 892 in 1839, 1,202 (25.3% of the total) in 1859, and 2,823 (41%) in 1889; in 1899 their number increased to 3,747. Difficulties were encountered in the organization of the community because the merchants and the artisans each had their own institutions, and even their own rabbis. In 1877 a primary school was founded, but the craftsmen had their own talmud torah. In 1904 an attempt was made to unite the community's institutions but this lasted only two years. The community was finally unified only in 1923.
Zionist activity began in Vaslui in the 1880s. Rabbis of the town included Alexander Taubes (1841–1913) and Benjamin Rabinovici. Ẓaddikim of the Ruzhin-Buhus dynasty lived in the town. On the eve of World War II there were in Vaslui eight prayer rooms, a hospital and clinic, an old-age home, a mikveh, a primary school, and a kindergarten. After the naturalization laws were passed (in 1919), two to six Jews were active in the local council. In 1947 the Jewish population numbered 3,200, decreasing to 2,400 in 1950. In 1960 there were about 70 Jewish families with one synagogue.
I. Brociner, Chestiunea israeliţilor români …, 1 (1910), 114–6; Almanachul ziarului Tribuna evreeascaˇ, 1 (1937/38), 242–8; N. Leven, Cinquante ans d'histoire, 1 (1911), 121, 143; I. Loeb, La situation des Israélites en Turquie, en Serbie et en Roumanie (1877), 168; PK Romanyah, 120–3.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.