The Bucharest of the 19th century was the largest city in South-Eastern Europe from the viewpoint of the number of inhabitants (58,000), counting less than Constantinople, but more than Belgrade (19,000), Sofia (12,000) and Athens (10,000).
The Romanian civilization, rural in its essence, needed an infusion of urban spirit and a bourgeoisie that would accomplish the “industrial revolution”. From the moment when Bucharest became the countryâ€™s capital (January 24/February 5, 1862), the concentration of the industrial enterprises and of the ensemble of the centralized State institutions was a phenomenon that encouraged immigration (both internal and external).
Meanwhile, Eastern Europe witnesses new anti-Semitic manifestations which cause the immigration to extend until 1899. The mystique of the city lured many people, both from the inside and from the outside of the country. The Jewish community counted about 38,000 members in 1912 (an important growth caused both by the natural increase and by the Jews that came from Moldavia).
Although Jews were often denied civic rights, they were subject to numerous obligations (military service and implicitly fighting on the front in 1877-1878, taxes, exercising a trade etc.).
For the Romanian space, the 19th century brought about the awakening of the national feeling and of the xenophobia, anti-Semitism in particular (first as a fashion, then as a means of persuasion and of building legitimacy during elections, and ending up as an element of the collective conscience).
Thus, during the economic crises (1899/1900, 1904/1905), restrictive laws were passed (like the limitation of the Jewish access to professional education, which resulted in the creation of the “Hammer” Jewish school), and anti-Semitic manifestations broke out. The economic crises, the anti-Semitic outbursts and the American attraction led to a massive emigration of the Jews from Bucharest and from the rest of the country during 1900 and 1912. The fact that the emigrants were generally young was reflected in the diminishment of the natural increase (through the decrease of the birth rate) and in the “aging” of the community.
The beginning and the middle of the 19th century had been marked by an increase of the Jewish population. But the number of the Jews began to decrease as a result of the emigrations to Palestine and America.
Jews played an important part in the life of Bucharest during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century: as tradesmen (they were the first to practice peddling and wholesale), craftsmen (tinsmiths, brass workers, carpenters, jewelers), political leaders (A. Stern, W. Filderman), lawyers (dr. I. Barasch), physicians, writers (Cilibi Moise, I. Peltz, Sasa Pana, Tristan Tzara), philosophers (Iacob Itzhak Niemirower), ethnologists (Moses Gaster, Lazar Saineanu, Ronetti-Roman, Barbu Lazareanu) etc.
As bearers of new ideas, they are often seen as a nation that is “hostile” to the Romanians, seeking to establish a monopoly in any field and to impose the Jewish values.
An earlier naturalization of the Jews would have probably changed the political and demographical landscape of the Capital The fight for naturalization is an appeal to democracy and civic rights.
Jews gradually became a Christian problem. Their defining traits were above all a deep religiousness, a very developed self-conscience (through family and faith in Israel) and their conception of the world (materialism). In Russia, Romania and the Eastern-European space, religious tradition was seen as a refusal of the modernity and of the loyalty to the homeland that was hosting them. The density of the Jewish population and their degree of religiousness are very important factors in the anti-Semitic discourse. According to A. Ruppin, there are four categories of Israelites: 1) the Orthodox (in Russia, Galicia), speaking Yiddish, keeping the tradition and giving birth to many children; 2) the ones who speak both Yiddish and the language of the country they live in (England, America, Hungary, Romania), have less children and are more tolerant; 3) the religious liberals (the bourgeoisie in Germany and Italy) who keep the Mosaic tradition but no longer speak Yiddish; 4) the ones that are not religious (the rich, those who hold university degrees), who marry Christians and abandon their faithi.
The conditions for assimilation are: the small proportion of the Jewish population in comparison with the local one (leading to the weakening of the Hebrew institutions), an economically dynamic contact with the majority population, an elevated national culture and, last, but not least, the presence of the rich Jews (interested in various economic activities).
There was a time (the 16th-18th centuries) when the Romanian principalities (especially Walachia, and Bucharest in particular) were an oasis for the Jewish immigrants fleeing an anti-Semitic Europe. The absence of a Jewish ghetto, as well as the interethnic cohabitation on the same streets and in the same quarters, prove the tolerance of the Romanians. But, while the emancipation of the Jews began in the Western world, the Romanian principalities chose to discriminate them (considering them a threat from the demographic, moral and social points of view); it was only thanks to the external influence that the process of naturalization and of granting civil rights to the Jews was hastened.
The settlement of the Jews on the territory of the Capital began in the center and continued to the south, south-east (in particular) and later to the north. This is yet another example of the initial tolerance of the Romanians. Every quarter had a predominant role: residence (Vacaresti Ave-Dudesti Ave), trade (Mosilor Ave) etc.
The social and professional dynamics is a form of adapting to the laws of competition; immigrants are known to be an active economic category that is beneficial to the adoptive country in the long run (for they bring new mentalities and strive to integrate and to be economically successful).
The ideas propagated by the Israelites are predominantly liberal (inspired by the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen” â€“ 1789).
During the period under discussion (1866-1914), the Israelite population could move freely (territorially and commercially), could reside in mixed locations (quarters and even houses), and did not face physical barriers (walls, guarded gates â€“ i.e. ghetto).
The Jewish quarter of Bucharest was far from the western ghetto or the eastern shtetl â€“ extreme forms of survival of the Jews in hostile places. The territorial organization in the Romanian principalities (especially in Walachia) proves the tolerance enjoyed by the Jews and the various privileges granted to them (by the Phanar princes and by the local princes loyal to the Ottomans; it was a period when the prince guaranteed financially the safety of the foreign merchants, when merchants found a favorable ground here and the Jewish trade flourished, under the circumstances of a favorable legislation which was an extension of the religious tolerance of the Ottoman Empire).
“The Christian public spirit in Walachia was not contrary to the Jews. It is indeed a curious fact that the less civilized peoples cannot part with the old dough called â€˜Judaic-phobiaâ€™ In Walachia, even the peasant calls the Israelite a Jew, not a â€˜sheenyâ€™, like they do in the neighboring Moldavia, much more narrow-minded. Itâ€™s just that the Jews here, and I mean those of German rite in particular, should make more efforts for an honorable and peaceful living.”ii (Dr. I. Barasch)
In order to further pursue the comparison, a definition of the ghetto and of the shtetl is necessary.
The better known term is “ghetto” (Italian, French). There are several theories regarding the formation of the word, which appeared in Italy during the 16th century: the Latinization of the Hebrew “get” (divorce), spelled “gueto” in Italian; from the Italian “borghetto” (small quarter); but the most likely etymology concerns the Italian “geto” (“cannon foundry”), as the first Jewish ghetto, born in Venice, in 1516, was placed near a foundry.
Dictionaries define the ghetto as the quarter inhabited by the Jews, who were forced to live separated from the others; by extension, it designates a quarter where groups of a certain race, nationality or religion are forced to live. Nowadays, the sociological and urbanistic literature calls ghettoes those areas of natural dwellings which concentrate population groups with the same characteristics (racial, ethnical, professional, economic).
“Shtetl” (Yiddish for “small town”), with “shtetlach” for plural, is predominantly found in Eastern Europe and stands for a village or a small town where there are no walls or other restrictions for the Jews. In exchange, life conditions are very poor, as this represents essentially a rural way of life. The difference between ghetto and Jewish quarter is very clear. “The Jewish quarter formed itself voluntarily and was self-imposed. The ghetto was involuntary and was imposed from the outside. The former meant freedom; the latter brought about imprisonment.”iv (Max I. Diamont)
But the ghetto was also seen as a salvation from laicization and annihilation, as well as a source of inner discovery (new interpretations of the religious texts and a new music are born here). Western Christianity suffers from “Judaic-phobia” (the avoidance of the religious and social “infestation”) and strictly forbids physical contact (the interdiction for the Jewish physicians to attend on Christians, the distinctive insignia â€“ clothes, special colors; the ghetto was closed on the outside on Christian holidays and on the inside on Jewish holidays, being watched by a Christian guard).
In the German ghettoes, “they had to behave quietly and to go to bed early. They could not shelter travelers or to admit sick people in their hospitals without the mayorâ€™s consent. No more than 12 couples could get married every year. (â€¦) The Jewish houses had to bear certain insignia or signs such as â€˜The Garlicâ€™sâ€™, â€˜The Alder Treeâ€™sâ€™, â€˜The White Signâ€™sâ€™ â€“ or green, or red (Rothschild). People were named after these emblems”v (J. I. Pineles)
The ghetto is a prison of fear, where the unwholesome conditions are determined by the increasing population. This is how E. Campus describes this area: “The streets were narrow, sinuous, gloomy, like an animalâ€™s lair, and this is why they always seemed dirty.
On these streets crept silent people, with shoulders bent under worries and humiliations, young people aged prematurely, looking around them with fear. They all wore a big, yellow spot on their clothes, showing that they belonged to the oppressed people (â€¦) The spiritual walls of the ghetto collapsed very slowly.”vi
There is a cycle of the medieval Christian tolerance based on economic and religious factors: the Jewish enemies and traitors become allies in times of economic or political crisis (to support the war effort in particular). The Jews were expelled from England as early as the 14th century, before the emergence of the ghettoes; in some areas, the expulsion was final (especially after the plague of 1348), while in other areas they were called back.
During the Moorish period, Spain was an urbanistic model; Jewish life was open here (the Jewish quarter was placed in the center of the town and generally consisted of a main street and some other lateral streets). The black plague (1348-1349) led to new expulsions and thus, most of the communities were destroyed or forcibly converted (becoming “marranos”, i.e. neither Jews, nor Christians). In 1492 and 1497, Portugal witnessed the great expulsion of the Jews who were subsequently known as Sephardim.vii
At this point of their history, Israelites were received by the neighboring countries: Italy, the Low Countries, Germany, Africa and even the Ottoman Empire (where they would form a privileged categoryviii). The persecutions in Germany would bring some of them back to England (after 400 years), but a larger number went to Poland, where they attained an unprecedented demographic development.
After the arrival of these immigrants, Poland experienced an economic revitalization (internal trade routes were opened that competed the Hanseatic League). The cities with Jewish inhabitants (Warsaw, Prague, Vienna) became powerful trade centers.
Wherever they went, Jews brought along new ideas and incessantly tried to better the existing forms and to adapt themselves to the laws of competition. In many cases, they were protected as economic assets (becoming the kingâ€™s property).
Because of external reasons, an incongruity appeared between the Western and the Eastern Jews: the ones in Germany, Austria, France, Holland, England excelled in sciences (they were the so-called â€˜salon Jewsâ€™), industry and finance, while the ones in Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Hungary led a rural life.
Russia introduced the organization model of a larger ghetto (if one may call it so), granting Jews the right of residence on a certain territory (near the Polish border) that they could not leave and where business was not very good. Tsar Alexander III thus formulated the solution to the Jewish problem: “One third conversion, one third emigration and one third starvation.”
The pogroms in Russia and Poland pushed a mass of emigrants towards more favorable locations, such as the Romanian principalities.
In Bucharest, the predominant model of dwelling was the Spanish one: there were Jewish quarters in the center of the city (starting at St. Gheorghe and Mosilor Ave, then gradually spreading towards Dudesti, Rahovei Ave or Grivitei Ave) and there was cohabitation without discriminations based on nationality (Jews, Romanians, Gypsies and other minority groups lived together peacefully). A differentiation was made according to material status: there were poor quarters (Dudesti-Vacaresti, Grivitei Ave) and rich quarters (Mosilor Ave, Victory Ave, the Saint Apostles etc.). There were no walls or any other physical or psychological barriers; on the contrary, during the 14th-18th, Jews had a privileged status, being under the protection of the Ottoman Empire.
They had no restrictions of residence and the Romanian-born Jews could buy land at the price of the market. However, Jews could not live next to Orthodox churches (a medieval provision formulated by the great religious councils and taken for granted in both the Romanian principalities). Synagogues had to be located at a certain distance from the Christian churches and could not be taller or more richly ornamented (they usually had a modest appearance on the outside, the valuable elements being kept on the inside).
One might say that the liberty to extend territorially all over the city hindered the organization of a united community (which only appeared later, being shattered by internal conflicts).
Commercially, the Jews asserted themselves as tradesmen par excellence (they dynamized the fair areas â€“ Mosilor, Obor), but they also brought new tendencies (they were the first to invest in oil, they introduced the “iron fashion” and its derivatives â€“ brass, tin etc.)
At the beginning of the 19th century, Jews would settle in the center of the city, in the vicinity of the fair area, where they could easily practice trade or crafts. The first Jewish quarter can be considered to be the surroundings of the St. Gheorgheâ€™s church (Popescuâ€™s slums). Here were located the main exchange areas, which would spread across the entire city. They would extend towards the south and the south-east (Vacaresti Ave, Udricani St., Labyrinth St., Pythagoras St. etc.) then towards the St. Gheorghe the New slums (Saintsâ€™ St.), St. Gheorghe the Old slums (Neculescuâ€™s inn) and the streets behind the former Palace of Justice.
The new Ashkenazi immigrants settled on the Sephardic streets (the Spanish rite community of Bucharest dates back to 1730), which they “conquered”: Decebal St., St. Vineri St., Mircea Voda St., Anton Pann St., Dudesti Ave, all the way to the area between Labyrinth St. and the Dambovita river.
The spreading of the Ashkenazim was also the result of their numerical superiority; Sephardim though were grouped in more exclusive areas, which was the result of their material status, high above the average. The presence of the Sephardim who had come for business from the Ottoman Empire is characteristic for Walachia only (they did not get as far as Poland or Moldavia).
According to the testimonies of the time, Jews could settle freely wherever they wanted.
Except for Popescuâ€™s slums, there were other Jewish quarters: Vacaresti-Dudesti Ave, Mosilor Ave, Calarasilor Ave, Rahovei Ave-St. Apostles, Victory Ave-Academy St., Grivitei Ave. The rest of the Jews spread all over the Capital and did not manage to form other compact dwelling areas.
This spreading, as well as the fact that the Romanian-born Jews would buy houses, are the proof that Bucharest never had a ghetto or an area of the marginalized. One might say that these quarters, where Jews lived together with other ethnic groups and the differences were only of a financial nature, are a form that is different from both the urban ghetto (surrounded by walls and marked by restrictions) and the shtetlix (where there was a free, uncultivated ground between the Jewish dwellings and the rest of the inhabitants).
Around 1878, the Mosaic population was grouped approximately in the area of the “Old fair”, on the left bank of the Dambovita river, in the slums whose axes of traffic were Vacaresti Ave and Dudesti Ave, in the vicinity of the former Cucuâ€™s Fair. Towards the south-east, they went beyond the St. Apostles St. (Rahovei Ave, Giurgiului Dr). The Jews on Vacaresti Ave and Dudesti Ave were oriented towards the old economic center. The Vacaresti quarter became one of the poorest quarters, known especially for its merchants of used clothes and its famous Junk Market.
“Old luxury clothes are sold; most of the buyers are the Gypsy fiddlers who are crazy about black boyarâ€™s clothes, varnished boots, redingotes and tuxedoes which they get for a bargain from some consumptive”x, pointed out H. Stahl in “Bucurestii ce se duc” (“The Dying Bucharest”).
Teahouses were symptomatic (“The Real Commercial Teahouse”, “Streitâ€™s Teahouse”); regardless of the weather, they were full after 6 p.m. Jewish religious songs would be played on the gramophone here.
There were many milk shops and traditional, kosher butcherâ€™s shops (“Malbimâ€™s butcherâ€™s shop, supervising the Somra Hadas”, “Butcherâ€™s shop and poultry slaughterhouse; property of the Coral Templeâ€™s congregation. Authorized by the distinguished City hall” etc.), and especially scrap iron warehouses (there were no less than nine of them between Calarasi Ave and Dudesti Ave). Many brands were “American” (American companies, American bazaars, American boots) and some were “Spanish” (related to the Sephardim, e.g. Spanish sausage shops).
In front of the modest dwellings one could see “crowds of dirty children playing in the streets (â€¦) [and], although no dog bark can be heard in the entire neighborhood, there is not one single yard where one couldnâ€™t hear the nice goose call.”xi (H. Stahl)
The love for their children determined the parents, no matter how needy, to spoil their offspring with sweets, so the candy salesmen were doing great between St. Vineri St. and Vacaresti Ave. This inclination, as well as the menâ€™s respect for their wives (who often wore luxury items), made them seem different from the rest of the population. The childrenâ€™s education was still strict and the relationship between the spouses was often rigid. Writer Isac Peltz made a memorable and sentimental evocation of this quarter in the novel “Vacaresti Ave” (followed by the well-known drawings of her daughter, Tia Peltz): “â€¦Vacaresti Ave gathers its people. From the distant center, they come back to the narrow streets, covered in darkness and mystery: tall shopkeepers wedded to suffering, thin girls wearing light blouses and looking puzzled and tired, old men with aching loins, matrons as huge as a cloakroomâ€¦ There is light in the teahouses again. The long-haired lads with eyes full of dreams and white lips, stranded in their reverie are back to appease their hunger for something else at the time-stained millâ€¦ They will forge a new world, like they did yesterday, or the day before yesterday, like they always didâ€¦
Beggars devastated by the years they painfully swallowed stuck themselves before the taverns with grill and fiddles (â€¦) Vacaresti Ave is a huge panoptic device contrived by a mind gone out of control. In order to get close to some of the souls here, one has to climb a few steps; in order to make sense out of other souls here, one has to descend steps.”xii The Papazoglu map of 1871 shows a Vacaresti Ave bordered by Lazar St., Vergului (Calarasi) Ave, Palestine St., Synagogue St., Udricani St., Corbului St. on the right, and by Sticlari Impasse, Mamulari Impasse, Negru Voda St., Saul St., Olteni St., and St. Vineri St. on the right.
A special quarter was the Sephardic one, on the left bank of the Dambovita river. “The Spanish have their homes on a separate street, where all the Spanish families grouped themselves voluntarily; some of their buildings are famous for their imposing style.”xiii (I. Barasch)
The Sephardic streets are especially St. Ioan the New St., Israelite St. (years later, a change of name would be demanded, as there was no Jew left on it), Spanish St., Negru Voda St. Around the Great Synagogue (“Cahal Grande”) lies “the quarter of the â€˜Israeliteâ€™ and â€˜Spanishâ€™ aristocracy who got rich through honest jobbing, two or three blessed bankruptcies, banking and stock exchange businesses. The houses erected here on old boyarâ€™s sites are neat and luxurious; in many of the paved yards, the piles of firewood seem to mock at the winterâ€™s threats.”xiv (H. Stahl)
This distant attitude towards the Ashkenazim seems to be an inheritance from the East, which was generally opposed to everything that came from the West.
The second Jewish center emerged in the area of the Palace of Justice (St. Apostles St.), from where it gradually expanded throughout Rahovei Ave.xv
On St. Apostles St.xvi were located the houses of P. Bratman (at number 37, built in 1887 by architect Const. Russe) and the estates of M. Mircus (on Emigrantâ€™s St.xvii, built in 1886, by architect Richard Kraft).
A third Jewish area was established on Mosilor Ave, earlier than 1860. After Dudesti-Vacaresti, it was (according to the figures of 1881-1892) one of the largest and most populated quarters. Mosilor Ave began at St. Gheorghe Square and ended at Obor, being bordered by Paleologu St., Herescu-Nasturel St., Pake Blvd., Ferdinand Blvd., Foisorul de Foc St., Traian St., Zece Mese St., Calusei St., Vaselor St., Masina de Paine St., Mihai Bravu St. and Obor St. on one side and by Domnitei Blvd., Vasile Lascar St., Italian St., Carol Blvd., Popa Petre St., Venerei St., Silvestru St., Teilor St., Viilor St., Papa Sapca St., Roman St., Palade St., Arges St., Birjarilor St., Fainari St., Episcop Radu St. and Campului St. on the other side. The Jews from the suburb villages (Colentina and Pantelimon) were tied to this quarter too, as they attended the synagogues and the Jewish organizations located here.
Mosilor Ave was the commercial quarter par excellence and the area where most of the Israelite shops and factories were located. The main leatherwear shops (wholesale â€“ D. Haberman, Laura and Mendel Blum, the Iscovici brothers, Ozias Kremer, Rubinstein etc.) and footwear factories (Samuel Askenaziâ€™s mechanized factory, Iosef Kaisermanâ€™s factory) could be found here.
There were also factories producing bags (“The Ideal”, founded by the Calmanovici brothers), knitwear (“The Future”, owned by Frankel), bricks (Sinigalia, Ferdinand Feldman), dyes and oils (Carol Zimmer), as well as bakeries and bread factories (Geisler). Construction materials warehouses (F. Feldman, the Oscar brothers, Filip Witzling, Filip Berman) and petroleum warehouses (Moise Blum) could also be found here.
Here are some famous shops located near the St. Gheorghe Square: “Dulbergâ€™s Drugstore”, “Bergher-Safianu” (carpets), “Ungureanu” (faience), “Grumer” (travel items), Geisler (white loafs and croissants), “Riviera”xviii (flowers). Other shops were the bookstore “The Golden Nib” (owned by Schoenbach), “Omegaâ€™s” watchmakerâ€™s shop (owned by Leon Gheldman), “Zahanaâ€™s” (waistcoats and tanning shop, owned by Solomon Friedman). Lazar Eckstein, who provided the quarter with a bath and a canteen for destitute childrenxix and built “social” apartmentsxx, owned a great shop of car bodies and accessories.
The quarter had many barkeepers (David Ghidale, Kitzman), grocers (Nisim, widow Dvara, Solomon Marcu and Base), butchers (Aron Trister, Aron Herman), belt manufacturers (Weinberg, Hornstein, Katz, Lupu Leist), shoemakers (Segal, Lazar, Lazarescu), tailors (Pachter, Barber, David Ionas), a miller (Loebel), house painters and dyers (David Alpern, Horowitz), horse tradesmen (Avram Eisenberg and Goldstein), hairdressers (Carol, Tina “Pistachio”) etc.
On the Italian St. operated, by the latest standards, dr. Erlichâ€™s baths, with physiotherapeutic facilities. In the four inns of the quarter (Capra, Stanica, Petrescu and Mocanescu) dwelled Jews too (in the Petrescu inn lived Miriam Beila, a lady who was said to perform miracles).
At number 90 on Mosilor Ave were located the houses of Leon H. Loebel (built in 1896 by architect A. I. Rosescu), and, next to number 27, the houses of Marcu Stein (built in 1885 by architect M. Surber). It was there also that were located the shops of the famous banker Hillel Manoah (erected in 1883 under the guidance of architect I. I. Roznoveanu).
In the same area, on Roman St. (at number 20), stood the houses of D. V. Moses (built in 1894 by architect Paul M. Mihail). On Birjari St. and Fainari St. lived the owners of carriages. The only Jewish cabmen who made a fortune were Marinica and Simion, who became owners of houses and carriages. In this field, it was the “muskals”xxi that held the supremacy. The timber tradesmen lived in Obor or on Vaselor St., where the lamp oil warehouses were located too. In contrast to the Vacaresti-Dudesti Ave, which mainly provided the labor force, this quarter was the real Jewish commercial quarter.
Jews also played an important role in Obor, which had three parts: the cattle market, the merchandise market and the annual fair. Jews were usually not involved in the cattle trade, but they held the majority in the merchandise market (with shops and stalls for linen, fabrics, pants, sandals, waistcoats, domestic items, kitchen pots and ironware) Here are some examples of Jewish tradesmen: Aronovici and son, Israilovici and sons, David Herscovici, Beresteanu and sons, Leon Zilberman etc. Most of those who practiced trade in Obor lived on Mosilor Ave.
The Obor fair was attended by seasonal or itinerant merchants, but also by entertainers (jugglers, artists; here were the whereabouts of the famous Anita, a reader in cards and coffee).
Adjacent to this quarter were Calarasi Ave and the lateral streets: Vulturilor, Fetitelor, Labirint, Traian, Lucaci, Popa Nan, Delea Noua, Parfumului, Romulus, Popa Soare etc.
“An expedition in a Jewish quarter of Bucharest”, an article published in the “Neamul Romanesc”xxii (“The Romanian Nation”) newspaper protested against the presence of foreign residents on streets with Dacian-Roman or Christian names.
The nationalists (those from “The Romanian Nation” in particular) deemed these quarters a real social danger and advised any faithful Christian to avoid them (old medieval themes â€“ that were not widespread on the Romanian territories in those times â€“ were invoked on the threshold of the 20th century: deicide, infanticide, hemophagia, necrophagia etc.). The economic potential that Jews held all over Europe was already becoming disturbing in Bucharest too.
Another Jewish quarter was Calarasilor Ave; it was inhabited mostly by Ashkenazim, whose material status resembled those of the Jews in Vacaresti.
Apart from Mosilor Ave, another elite Jewish trade center was Lipscani St., with many Jewish shops: “The Good Taste” (at number 8, founded in 1880, owned by Ascher); the shop of Ignatz Haberfeld (from St. Nicolae slums), at number 16; the “G. & M. Breyer” cloth shops (at numbers 24 and 53); the “Solomon Hechter & sons” wholesale manufacture (at number 59) etc. The “Berkowitz” Bank (founded by L. Berkowitz), was located at number 12 from 1880.
The “Hanul cu Tei” (the Inn with Linden Trees) was also in the area. In those times, its small rooms were occupied by poor tenants. It was evoked by the same Isac Peltz (as it is mentioned on the marble plaque placed on it).
During the last decade of the 19th century, the Israelites expanded in a new area, on the streets in the center of Bucharest: Academiei St. and Victory Ave. The Zlatari Inn (built in 1895 by architect Radu Nedelescu and owned by W. Hirsch & C. was located on Victory Ave. A three-floor hotel owned by Max Aziel was built in 1894 at the corner of Academiei St. and Elisabeta Blvd. The house of Rosenfeld-Witzling was also located here.
Victory Ave would soon become an exclusive and prestigious quarter where the great Jewish owners and industrialists would live far away from the anti-Semitic manifestations whose target were usually the modest quarters.
Another Jewish quarter was the one on Grivitei Ave; it was less important, because there were no ethnically compact streets. It was the area between the North Station and Victory Ave, to which must be added the Jews on Popa Tatu and St. and those near the Matache Macelaru market.
The living conditions in Walachia and especially in Bucharest are clearly superior to those in countries like Poland or Russia and somewhat better than those in Moldavia. The unrestricted territorial expansion in the city attracted a huge number of immigrants, which would later constitute the essence of the “Jewish problem”.
In conclusion, there was no ghetto in Bucharest; there were however poor quarters, predominantly Jewish, where social ascension was hard to be achieved. The presence of a Sephardic community is typical for Bucharest (there was no such community in Poland or Moldavia). The Sephardim war the elite of the community through their wealth and superior culture (they had a quarter of their own near the Dambovita river), but represented a very small proportion of the Jewish population.
Prof.Anca Aurelia Ciuciu
The “Iulia Hasdeu” National College