The authors of “6 Centuries of Coexistence”, Manascu Cotter and Manes Leib are neither writers, nor journalists, but… brothers-in-law! Manascu Cotter is self-made man, whose formation as an intellectual is closely connected to his participation in the Zionist cultural activity. Between 1960 and 1976, he dedicated himself to studying the past of the Jews in Romania and published many articles on this topic in “The Magazine of the Mosaic Cult”. Manes Leib is a law graduate from Iasi University who shared the same hobby with his brother-in-law: researching the past of the Jewish communities, mainly of those in Moldavia. Their book represents a synthetic history of the six century-long coexistence of the Jew on the current territory of Romania. We will publish the contents of this 234-page volume. Also, we will reproduce some fragments from different chapters of the book, hoping that we will arouse interest in reading it entirely. Those who are interested in receiving certain chapters by e-mail may contact us at email@example.com.
For those who are interested in this topic, we also mention “The Contribution of the Jews in Romania to Culture and Civilization”, a work of over 1.200 pages published under the aegis of the UNESCO National Commission and of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania. It was coordinated by Academy member Nicolae Cajal and by dr. Hary Kuller. The first chapter also deals with “The Jews in the History of Romania”.
It is a well-known fact that most of the Jews in the Capital had been living there for a very long time and that the princely administration would grant them places to build their homes. The evidence brought by the documents quoted below fully show what chroniclers and historians recorded about the Bucharest quarter that the Jews inhabited until the half of the last century. Thus, on February 1, 1678, Radu (an official of the administration) wrote a letter to his in-laws (Ilie Iufbasa and Ilinca) confirming having sold to them a house in Bucharest, situated in “…the Stejar neighborhood for 16 lei, bordered by the princely orchard near the lake, by Marcu the Jew and Radu Flore’s estates; sold together with garden, vineyard, trees, and all the space around the house as it was at its origins; house comprising fences, cellar and cabbage garden, to be used by the Master as his estate for as long as he and his offspring, by God’s mercy, will live.”
A document from the second half of the 18th century shows that, in 1769, Moldavia numbered 20 towns. The largest ones were Iasi, Galati, Botosani, Roman and Focsani. Among the smaller ones were quoted: Suceava, Siret, Bacau, Piatra, Trotus, Barlad, Falciu, Dorohoi etc.
The documents and the official statistics, as well as testimonies of the time, speak of the presence of a Jewish population in the economic life of these towns. The Jews were into trade and crafts and contributed to the social and economic development of the towns.
As a consequence of the Kuciuk-Kainargi treaty (1774), that put an end to the Turkish monopoly in the field of foreign trade and brought about a great increase in the production of commodities, new towns emerged between 1774 and 1800: Falticeni (1780), Moinesti (1781), Mihaileni (1782), Trifesti (1790), Burdujeni (1792), Adjudul Nou (1794), Negresti (1796). The presence of the Jewish population is also recorded in these towns, from their very beginnings.
Thus, in the document regarding the foundation of the town of Mihaileni (July 12, 1792), it is stated: “From both what We have learned from our clerks and the deal concluded with the Jews, We have come to the conclusion that the lord of the estate agrees and that the building of this town on this estate does not affect the surrounding towns. Hence, We allow for this town to be founded on the Vladeni estate by bringing Jews and others, only of those who are foreigners to this land, not inhabitants of this land.”
FORMS OF ORGANIZATION OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN MOLDAVIA AND WALACHIA
From the very beginning of their settlement, the Jewish communities in the towns and the cities of Moldavia and Walachia had adequate forms of organization. The head of the community was a religious representative who made sure that the laws of the Mosaic religion were obeyed. He would see to the observance of the rules concerning the circumcision and they officiated births, weddings and funerals. They also dealt with litigations between the Jews. So, the first stage of organization for all the communities was a religious one. Communities were autonomous one from another. Apart from keeping faith alive, they also organized all sorts of charity actions. We believe that outstanding Jewish personalities of the time, that were present at the princely courts, greatly influenced, in their turn, the organization of these communities. Thus, the presence (at Alexandru Mircea Voda’s Court) of Saim, son of Joseph, who rose as high as the rank of princely secretary in 1573, or of Solomon (maybe Del Medigo), who served under Petru Voda the Cripple around 1580, or of doctor Cohen, who was, in 1656, Vasile Lupu’s personal physician, contributed to these forms of organization.
It is a proven fact that, by the end of the 17th century, Jewish organized communities existed both in Moldavia and in Walachia. Gradually, they began to gain recognition from the authorities and to pay taxes, thus contributing to the country’s budget.
Beginning with the same 17th century, their organization takes the form of national-religious guilds.
The guild – the first form of official organization. In the strict meaning of the word, the guild was an association of producers and distributors of goods whose aims were to fulfill the needs of the consumers and to protect the mutual interests of the associates. As time went by, this name was appropriated by the Jewish community; it still meant an association of producers, but they all belonged to the same religious group. The term can be frequently found in the princely documents, especially on occasions such as the appointment of the “hahambasi” and of the “starosti” of these communities. The exact date when these guilds were organized cannot be determined. But all the sources indicate that they were numerous.
Towards the end of the 17th century these guilds paid several taxes, both in Moldavia and in Walachia. Thus, starting with 1698, the guild in Focsani regularly appeared in Walachias’s ledger of incomes, being incorporated in the overall tax paid by the community in Bucharest. Subsequently, the “hahambasi” and the “starosti” began to pay taxes both to the state and to the local administration. During the 18th century, the guilds gained strength both numerically and economically, thanks to the development of trade and of the forces of production. They began to be seen as powerful economic nuclei.
The organization of the communities in those times was of the highest importance. Living in an organized group whose leaders were confirmed by the prince had many advantages.
The organization of these communities required a number of decrees and edicts, as well as other princely documents which were elaborated between 1666 and 1855, stipulating the rights and obligations of the Jewish population. Among these documents may be quoted: the decree given by Ilias Alex. Voda in 1666, concerning the organization of a Jewish school in Iasi; prince Stefan Racovita’s decree in 1764 to the Jewish “starosti” in Bucharest, extending Isac Hahambasa’s power over all communities in Walachia; Alexandru Ipsilante’s edict in 1775; Grigore Ghica Voda’s princely decree in 1777; the decree in 1783 given by prince Mihail Sutu, granting a tax exemption to Iosif Simon, a Jewish “staroste”; Mihail Sutu’s decree in 1792, and C. Hangerli Voda’s decree in 1798 etc.
The following 19th century documents were kept in Moldavia: C. Ipsilante’s decree in 1800; Al. N. Sutu’s book of Jewish “starosti” in 1801; Al. C. Moruzi’s decree in 1804; Scarlat Calimachi’s decree in 1815; I. Sandu Sturdza’s decree in 1823; the State Council’s decree in 1834; M. Gr. Sturdza’s decree in 1840; the decision in 1847; the decree in 1850, as well as the order in 1855 to the “Eforia” of the Jewish Communities in Iasi.
In Walachia: Alexandru M. Sutu’s decree in 1819; Walachian Government’s order in 1822; the log of the Extraordinary Administrative Council of Bucharest in 1832 etc. All these documents constitute judicial sources regarding the organization and the functioning of the Jewish communities of the past.
The study of these documents offers important insights about way in which the election of the lay and religious representatives of the communities took place, their privileges and obligations, the organization of the charity, education and healthcare institutions, the internal organization of the communities etc.
The legal representatives. The “hahambasi” and the “starosti”. The emergence of the legal representatives meant the recognition de jure of the communities. The head of each community was a “staroste” elected by the guild members. The small towns usually elected only one, while the Capital had two or three. The chief “staroste” was also called “Bas staroste”. The election of the “starosti” and of the “hahambasa” was performed every year, on Easter. This had to be reported to the state authority. The election of the “starosti” also concerned the prince, as shown by Const. Mavrocordat in the decree on January 28, 1739, regarding the appointment of Marco sin Lazor as “staroste” in Barlad.
The “hahambasa” was the head of all the Jews in Moldavia and his office was the same as the one of the “staroste”.
The “starostii” were confirmed by the prince through decrees. Alexandru Ipsilante’s decree in 1775 mentions: “We, the regent prince, have granted this decree to Pilat and have appointed him “staroste” of the Jews, as he possesses all the papers issued by Our predecessors, confirming the existence of this occupation”. “Nobody among the Jews will dare appoint a new “haham’ without giving notice to the already-appointed “hahambasa’”. And a decree by Grigore Ghica Voda in 1777 says: “We order that all Jews obey and honor him according to the Jewish law, and that the “hahambasa’ take care of all the needs of the Jewish guild, in observance of their rules and habits”.
As it can be seen, this institution was strongly supported by the prince. The institution of the “hahambasa” developed until around 1780, when the rabbi in Iasi became the great rabbi of Moldavia.
It is likely that the first “hahambasa” was Bezalel Hakohen. In 1753, Isac the “hahambasa” assumed the office; he died 1776. After his death, he was later followed in office by Marco the “hahambasa” and by Naftali Hacohen, who was only recognized in 1782. In 1823, the office of “hahambasa” in Iasi was occupied by a certain Saie.
Beginning with 1764, the “hahambasa” extended his responsibilities in Walachia, according to Stefan Racovita’s decree. The decree required that all the heads of the Jewish population and all the other Jews in Walachia “obey Isac the “hahambasa’, whose power had previously been limited over Moldavia.”
The institution of the “hahambasa” lasted until 1834.
It had in its subordination an overseer-”hahambsasa” for the major towns, who represented it before the local authorities and among the Jewish guilds in those towns.
Like we said before, this institution enjoyed important privileges. The afore-mentioned decrees show that the “hahambasi” had the right to judge litigations among the Jews.
In the communities, it was the rabbes who actually acted as judges, the differences being solved according to the provisions of the Judaic codes. If the parties were not satisfied with the rabbinic solution, and only if the case was very important, the “hahambasa” would be called upon. When the case was more than a simple difference, it was judged by the prince’s treasurer. He was the supreme court of appeal. It was not until the decree on September 4, 1834, limiting the power of the “hahambasa”, that the entire jurisdiction over the litigations among the Jews was transferred to the civil courts.
Another privilege was related to the settlement of the incomes of the “hahambasa”. These consisted of the taxes he would cash for weddings, engagements and divorces. The “hahambasa” was also entitled to one leu for each individual. He also got a 0,45-leu tax for each kosher animal that was slaughtered.
The “hahambasa” also enjoyed several tax exemptions. He could cash 0,30 lei for each individual “for his efforts in office”, as well as other incomes known as “the “haham”s”. He could have a vineyard and a keeper for it “without having to pay anything to the treasury or to other offices”. The “hahambasa” could also keep “a shop and a pub in which to sell the Jews’ wine, without having to pay a tax for the pub, a customs fee, or any other taxes that normally apply to cellars”. He could add one or two pennies to the price of the kosher meat, according to tradition. The extra amount resulted over the official price was gathered in the guild’s treasury, to serve “to any needs of the guild that may occur.”
An important task of the “staroste” was collecting taxes from the population and transferring them to the princely treasury. This job was performed by the overseers of the “hahambasa”. They were officially empowered to do that. So, the “starosti” were those by means of which the administration gathered its incomes from the population. This is why the officials were interested in confirming the Jewish heads themselves.
Sometimes, the tax collection was not carried out without abuse. An illustrative example is given by the petition of the Moldavian Jews on October 15, 1831, on the occasion of the talks about the Organic Regulation. They complain about the serious abuse of Saum the “hahambasa”: “he forcibly collects incomes here in Iasi, imposing laws on the people as if he were the prince”.
Along with the progress of the public life in the Romanian territories came the creation of appropriate institutions by the Jewish communities. M. Gr. Sturza’s decree on April 30, 1840 establishes some taxes that will help to create such institutions. This is the conclusion of the decree: “on the other hand, these means are designed to allow for some extra taxes to be gathered which will help to maintain the schools, and a community hospital, and other improvements useful to this nation that enjoys Our full support”.
The spirit of tolerance towards the Jewish population was present in the acts of government. This is what Mihail Voda Sturdza’s decree on November 15, 1847 said:
“…Our constant concern for the well-being of all the inhabitants, regardless of their status or faith, to whom the laws of the state guarantee tolerance and protection. It is with satisfaction that we acknowledged the existence among the Jewish of some who, concerned with the enhancement of their community, strive to cultivate themselves through gaining the necessary knowledge and through the adoption of those forms that will establish morality and will facilitate the social relations.”
The same decree stated: “We, taking example from our neighboring states, find it reasonable that our Jewish youth wear European clothes, that many needs be eliminated by this, and that those who wish to send their offspring to the State’s public schools be supported in doing so.”
The decree 58 on July 20, 1850, concerning the community in Iasi, as well as the order to the “Eforia” of the Jewish communities on April 5, 1855, are two documents that legally establish the functioning of the Jewish population’s councils (“epitropii”). These documents are important because they contributed to the organization of the Jewish communities as genuinely representative institutions.
The former document states that the councils “will be in charge of managing the mutual interests of the nation with the utmost sense of reason and economy, and to its own benefit.”
In contrast to the old decrees, which left room for abusive interpretations in the fiscal field, the new rulings forbade the “epitropi” (heads of the councils) to burden the Jewish population with taxes “made up by themselves”, that were not among those decided by the administration. The “epitropi” had to brief the administration on their incomes and expenses. The good maintenance of the Jewish hospital, of the schools and of other objectives was specifically mentioned. A strict supervision of the dynamics of the population using official forms was required. These were the first statistical records concerning the Jewish population in Moldavia and Walachia.
The taxes gathered in the “charity box of the Jewish nation” were to be summed up and used with much care and after careful consideration.
Through the instructions given by Mihail Kogalniceanu in 1855, the community received an official name: “The “Eforia’ of the Jewish Communities in the Capital”. From this date forward, the communities depended on the Department of the Interior for the confirmation of the persons chosen as “epitropi”, the appointment of the chief “efor”, the selection of the chancellery’s clerks, the establishment of the budget of the “Eforia” etc.
For the issues related to the hospital, the schools and the public education, the “epitropia” had to consult the St. Spiridon “epitropia” and the Department for Culture and Public Education, through the city council.
The documents quoted above are valuable sources of information on the evolution of the idea of Jewish community in Moldavia and Walachia.
JEWISH CRAFTSMEN IN THE 19TH CENTURY
The presence of the Jewish craftsmen in the Romanian cities and towns has been recorded in chronicles, decrees and other documents since the 15th century. The exact structure of this population has become better known since the elaboration of inventories and of other statistical works in the principalities of Moldavia and Walachia.
There were two categories of inventories. There were the general inventories, drew up in 1832, 1838, 1845, 1851, 1861, and the special inventories, having fiscal purposes, such as the one in 1821, ordered by prince Mihail Gh. Sutu, and the one in 1831. On these occasions, censuses of the population were conducted, according to geographic settlement, religion, gender, age and profession.
If the “Chronicle of the “liuzi’” (1803) only contains scanty data on the number of the Jewish population, the ones that followed also speak about its division among professions. Thus, the inventory in 1820 indicates 373 Jewish craftsmen, which is 26,1% of the total number. They activated in most of the fields of manual craft, but most of them worked as: brass and silver polishers, cask manufacturers, butchers, hatters, footwear manufacturers, tailors, cart manufacturers, glass manufacturers, tinsmiths, wood carvers, dyers, tanners, seal manufacturers etc.
The list of the craftsmen in Focsani contains names such as: Leibu the Tinsmith, Avram the Tailor, Marcu the Boot-maker, Moise the Silver-polisher, Herscu the Wood-craftsman. These names are transparent hints to the profession performed by each of them.
In 1832, the town of Craiova had four shoe-makers and four hatters, and, later on, a bookbinder. In 1840, tinsmiths Marcu and Leiba are recorded to have covered in tin plates the tower of St. Ilie church, in the same town. It is to be noticed that the craft of tinsmith was very common among the Jews. Thus, a document of the time shows that, in 1827, Jewish craftsmen “are repairing again the roof of the Hurez Monastery”. According to N. Iorga, “Israelite tinsmiths from Braila” were working in Bistrita Oltului in 1840. The incomes ledger for 1845 of the St. Voievozi church in Barlad mentions a payment of five lei made to a Jew for the brass candle-sticks.
In 1832, Botosani had the following numbers of Jewish craftsmen: 15 silver and brass polishers, 22 butchers, 12 osier-knitters, 29 boot-makers, 98 tailors, 33 cap-makers, 11 glass manufacturers and 202 other craftsmen.
The 1831 inventory mentions the names of some craftsmen in Vaslui: Ilie zet Iosub, cart manufacturer; Label and Iosub, tailors; Iancu Tiutiungiu, cap-maker; Leiba, glass manufacturer; Iosep zet Iancu, silver polisher; Saim and Iancu, servants.
On a table containing masonry workers in Dorohoi, there was a certain Herscu zet Avram, a stone carver for monuments.
In 1833, the statistics of the streets in Iasi (drew up for the paving of the streets) speak of a number of Jewish tax-payers, who were: tailors, sole-makers, leatherwear craftsmen, glass manufacturers, potters, silver polishers, apothecaries.
JEWISH SHEPHERDS IN MARAMURES
In the past, growing sheep and cattle was the basic occupation for a part of the Jewish population in the Maramures countryside.
The presence of the Jews in these places is recorded in the notes of some foreign travelers and in some statistic and demographic monographs of the time. Thus, G. von Windisch’s monograph is a source of interesting data on the number of the Jews in Maramures and the surrounding regions. In 1780 – says the author -, there were 340 Jews in Ugocea, 1.200 in Satmar and 300 in Bihor.
In 1818, the traveler Czaplovitz made a few notes on the Jews in Maramures. Thanks to him, we are now aware that, back then, Sighet had a synagogue, a rabbi and a judge.
Demographic experts like GÃ¼ntram and Schulteis, as well as travelers John Paget, Da Geronda and R. Recouly, Rudolf Bergher and others offer, through their works, complementary material that helps to understand the socio-economical situation of the communities in those times.
The expansion of the Jewish population in the rural area of this old Romanian county took place slowly and lasted for a century. Towards the end of the 19th century (1890), Maramures counted 45.073 Jews. Around 1930, the Jewish population in Maramures amounted to approximately 36.000 people. The numerical decrease was due to the relocation of a part of this population to other parts of the country. In 1930, most of the Jewish population in Maramures (23.302 people) lived in the country-side; the region had the highest density of rural Jewish population in the country.
Most of the Jews in the villages of Maramures were into agriculture and growing sheep.
Living in peace and understanding with the Romanians, the Jewish shepherds learnt from them how to make cheese, and they adopted the Romanian nomenclature for the objects and the finished products, as well as the way of organizing the flocks.
The purpose for organizing the flocks was to obtain, in observance of the religious rules, the kosher cheese that was required by the Jewish believers.
ROMANIAN INTELLECTUALS ABOUT THE JEWS
“BEYOND JUSTICE DWELL THE BEASTS” (Simion Barnutiu)
“If we want Europe to be fair with us, the Romanians – let us in our turn be fair with everyone in our country.” (Alexandru Ioan Cuza)
“The Homeland could hardly deny the name and the rights of Romanian to those who sacrifice their work and blood serving Romania…” (Mihail Kogalniceanu)
“Art does not know racial distinctions.” (George Enescu)
“Let us get closer to each other not to judge each other, but to understand each other; to enjoy the humanity that lies within each of us.” (Eugen Lovinescu)
“In a country that is really cultivated, people are judged according to their good intentions and their contribution to the common enhancement, regardless of their birth certificate.”
“…I only can conceive patriotism in the absence of chauvinism…” (Ovid Densusianu)
“…The evil word is a murderer…” (C. A. Rosetti)
“Hatred is negative… it destroys values.” (Petre Andrei)
“A moral conscience of the highest level is incompatible with prejudice…”
“…the feeling of respect for the races phenomenon requires us to be ourselves beneath our own stars and also to allow the others to be themselves beneath their own stars…” (Lucian Blaga)
“The people of Israel is full of all the qualities and all the flaws caused by unjust suffering. Only those who have suffered and suffer unjustly can understand some of the mystery of this people… They do not have an ordinary faith among the nations, but a tragic destiny…”
“Everybody asks for everything from the Jews; but nobody gives them anything, nobody forgives…” (Petre Pandrea)
“We have similarly considered both the Romanian and the Jewish poets. They all believed in art and suffered in the name of art, which flows beyond national borders (not to mention within them). The Romanian poetry claims them with equal warmth.” (Perpessicius)
“The fact that most of the promoters of this literature [avant-garde literature] are Jews can by no means prevent us from noticing that in all the avant-garde movements, be they social… or literary (like the French symbolism or the German expressionism), the Jew’s role of propagator of the new is always identical. Far from being harmful, the presence of this agent can be welcome…” (Eugen Lovinescu)
“Just like ourselves, the Jews are equally inclined to love the country they were born in… when they are overtly accused of lack of patriotism, the most appropriate answer they can give is name the Jewish poets who sang in the language of the accusers…” (Gala Galaction)
“There are 40.000 Jews enlisted [in 1913] under the flag of our country and theirs, 40.000 men who are as determined and heroic as all the Romanians. They did not think twice, they did not hesitate for a single instant to sacrifice their blood for the Homeland… these men are happy when we are happy and sorrow over what we sorrow; these good patriots, who were denied, as an ultimate insult, the very right to honesty and to suffering, they all rushed in to help their Homeland, too happy to serve it…” (Tudor Arghezi)
“During our great movement in 1857, some of you [the Jews] spoke their mind with enthusiasm and worked vigorously in support of our great idea: the Union” (Mihail Kogalniceanu)
“But the most important [virtues], which are love for the country, pity for those who suffer, hatred against injustice and despotism, will grow even stronger within this soul, together with stoicism before death and the unaltered belief that God sees everything, and that, one day or the other, the hour of punishment for the evil ones will come, just like the hour for rewarding the good ones will come.
So do not let yourselves be fooled…” (Alexandru Macedonski)
“Knowing these people closely, I became even more convinced that, in a country that has a problem with nationalities, the Jews are the best and the most patriotic citizens, forming the cement that keeps the different nations together…
Acquiring them as a separate nation who loves this country is a matter on which the very existence of the state depends…” (Sebastian Moruzi)
“The fact that Jews do not lie when claiming they care about this country which is theirs too and they cannot be anything else but Romanians of a different religion is proven by the facts and the basic elements of their spirituality.” (George Calinescu)
“The Romanian and Jewish writers ought to be brought closer to one another by the love for beauty, like poets of the same religion, and to work together for the purity of the language and solely to its benefit.” (D. Nanu)
“…I came to believe it and I repeat it… Jews are a peaceful and grateful people who love their native country… my best, closest and most devoted friends were Jews. They truly appreciate everything that is beautiful, grand, noble and sublime – they definitely appreciate true art…” (Agatha Barsescu)
“Born and raised on this land, do the Jews not have the right to enjoy the same rights as all the others? I believe they do. Because I cannot understand how it is possible for one to be born in a place and not be able to call it one’s home, to fill a place in space and still not be anywhere, to love something in this world without receiving love in one’s turn. Since all these are true, why would I hesitate, why would I cowardly refuse to speak up in all honesty? Why would I banish them out of the national solidarity and why would I welcome discord-breeding tendencies? The words of insult do not lead to anything good, since, before being Romanians, we are human beings, and before having a national solidarity, we have a human solidarity that is supposed to bind us.” (Dimitrie Anghel)
“So many French or Italian politicians had a decisive contribution to the national history. The Jew Daniele Manin, was he not the head of the Venetian revolutionaries in 1848 and the most venerated man in his city?
Nowadays, the Jews are a part of the intelligentsia of our times, and cannot, under no circumstance, be excluded from the life of the human societies. Especially not now, when, on the one hand, we have an intelligentsia that has produced this superb monument that we call modern culture, and, on the other hand, an enormous mass of… people who are incapable of cherishing this millennium-long work, this divine benediction. If today we are facing this great abyss between these two conceptions about life, it is only because of the isolation of the former and the ignorance of the latter. The real scholars must, from now on, waste the highest efforts in order to defend culture, which is a human heritage. All forces are needed for that… And the “fascists in Iasi’ had better ask themselves: what positive things have they done for their nation that give them the right to negatively militate against others, involving the entire nation’s responsibility through their actions?…” (Nicolae Iorga)
“[Daniel Rosenthar, one] …of the best, the holiest, the most devoted men that God ever created after His own image. And he died for Romania, he died for its liberties, he died for his Romanian friends, whom he would not discredit, with the price of his own life, he died in pain, tortured, he died like a martyr, and he is still the only martyr of the modern Romania.
Whomever you may be, you who are reading these lines, if you have any feelings for Romania, you must weep over him, for, as members of mankind, you have lost a friend, while Romania has lost a supporter, a loyal son…
This friend, this son, this martyr of Romania, was an ISRAELITE – his name was Daniil C. Rosenthal.
Bless this name and, until you can do more for the memory of the martyr, may remembering him make you better, tolerant at least: may thinking of an Israelite make you better Christians.” (Maria C. A. Rosetti)
“…C. D. Rosenthal, one of the greatest martyrs of the 1848 revolution…” (Ionel Jianu)
“I am an Israelophile just like I am a Francophile, a Germanophile, a Russophile. I spiritually belong to all the peoples from whose granaries I picked the seeds of wisdom.
Then, I am an Israelophile out of pride. I would be ashamed to admit – through deeds that debase a certain conception – that I fear a handful of people belonging to another race, that we like to think of as declining. This would only mean to loudly assert my own people’s inferiority.
“I am an Israelophile because I see in the Jewish element a stimulant, not a threat.” (Nicolae Tonitza)
“If Jews only had to face the professional anti-Semites, their drama would simplify a lot… There are hardly any events, misdeeds or catastrophes for which they were not held responsible by their adversaries… yearning for justice… they do not succumb to the evidence of an unjust world…” (E. M. Cioran)
“We greatly esteem and love the Jewish citizens, for they have contributed to the enlargement of the Homeland and fully did their duty, the Jewish soldiers having fought shoulder to shoulder with the Romanian soldiers…” (Gen. Rascanu)
“These last years, the anti-Semite terror in Europe exacerbated their nature. Those who went to Iasi in the fall of 1941, in the aftermath of the German-legionary excesses, could, without having seen anything, sense the horrific atmosphere by noticing the crosses painted in lime by the Romanians on house walls and fences, a hint on the easiness with which victims were picked…”
“…but I wonder: after what they went through, are they not entitled not only to rehabilitation, but also to an extra amount of tenderness and affection?…”
“…Jews need… to feel they are loved in it [the country], that they are beyond any suspicion…” (George Calinescu)
“Race hatred has never got to me, but I notice what goes on in this country… Can’t you see how successful the anti-Semite periodicals are?… there is a number of people who see the culture of anti-Semitism as an excellent enterprise in which, with a capital of empty words, one can produce a rich crop of popularity, with the different results that it brings about: position, honors, distinctions etc.” (I. L. Caragiale)
“I cannot subscribe without being dishonored to any anti-Semite doctrine, because (among other reasons), I happen to be a mathematician; hence indebted in what I do and write to the thought of so many Jewish mathematicians. To feed on their spirituality and then to declare them racially undesirable is grotesque and immoral…” (Dan Barbilian / Ion Barbu)
“During the legionary regime, my name could be found on various black lists. And under Antonescu’s rule, I felt humiliated and cruelly offended as a Romanian by the horrors that were committed then and in the period that followed. The Romanian nation cannot be held entirely responsible though for the deeds of an irresponsible minority…
What could comfort us is the possibility for the deaths and the acts of injustice to be made up for.
After Iasi was dishonored through the crimes against a defenseless population, I could no longer return to the generous city I once knew, to which I feel bound by so many precious memories from my youth…” (Mihail Sadoveanu)
“Any word one might use would be too feeble to render those years of terror under the legionaries and Antonescu. All the baseness of the soul, all the animal instincts that still boil deep down inside the human being poured out like a devastating lava and turned to dust those Jewish streets, that seemed forgotten by people and by the present life…” (Scarlat Callimachi)
“Be an anti-Semite? Hate the Jews? How can I hate them when it is their people that gave us Sulamita, and The Song of songs, and the Rebellion of the Prophets, and the Lamentations of Job?…”
“The anti-Semites – who only gave mankind thieves, murderers and idiots – had better give us a brake with that fairy-tale of the Jewish inferiority…” (N. D. Cocea)
“No matter what you tell me, one cannot blame God’s people, like the Jews, for being Jews; as if they had decided, while still in their mothers’ bellies, to be born Jews, so that other people, who had no part in deciding they would come out Romanians from their mothers’ bellies, can later grow up and shoot the ones who were born in Jewish bellies.” (Marin Preda)
“One might say that being an anti-Semite means not being a patriot… Any man is not a patriot when he becomes less than a human being, and anyone who is led by prejudices becomes less than a human being.” (Alexandru Macedonski)
“A good patriot cannot approve of the anti-Semite movement…”
“…xenophobia is a sign of primitivism or a sign of degenerate nationalism.” (C. Radulescu-Motru)
“The genii produced by this small and scattered people worked for the good of mankind in general and used their intellectual powers to serve all the great causes, all the matters that interested all the nations amidst which these genii lived and worked…” (Mihail Kogalniceanu)
“I deem anti-Semitism an act of poverty of a failed intellectual or a cheap opportunity of self-assertion… anti-Semitism can only be regarded as a stupid ferment of anarchical agitation…” (Ion San-Giorgiu)
“Anti-Semitism… is a frightening state of mind. It is the fear, the jealousy of one who feels weaker than his neighbor; I call it COWARDESS and there is no room for such a feeling towards the Jews in my country, who wishes to become a chief player on the political arena…” (Anton Bibescu)
“Here or abroad, I have lived together with this people to whom mankind owes a part of its progress… I often had the opportunity to appreciate their kindness… had my mind only kept the memory of the kind, good-hearted, humane Herman Binder as the one single Jew persecuted, beaten, ruined by the national hooliganism… I would still tie my faith to the faith of the Jewish people, I would still make its struggle for justice my own, for this is the struggle of all those who are persecuted across this Earth…” (Panait Istrati)
“I did my duty then and I am doing it now: to state that any measure against the Jews is not only a political error, but also, especially in today’s circumstances, a really dangerous thing, and that it would be shameful to see university professors and students taking part in such retrograde agitations…” (Titu Maiorescu)
“…I take pride in being the fortunate friend of some very esteemed Jews, Hungarians, Germans… Bulgarians…”
The cult of the anti-Semite hatred will never replace the universal cult of Peace, of the fraternity among people and, especially, of the love for our neighbor…