Those Jews from Barlad who overcome oblivion
Dear readers, take these two pages published in the edition dedicated to the New Judaic Year 5760 as a modest gift offered in honor of a Jewish community who walked a few centuries to remain inscribed in the book of life.
Forgive us the inherent overlooking, in a space so severely limited. It’s up to Barlad inhabitants – who really helped us in the writing of these pages – to make them complete, in our magazine, and we invite them to do so as a veritable association of friends.
We continue the series of mini-monographs about the Romanian Jewish communities once powerful, thinned out by time, the vicissitudes of history, but designed to become eternal though values and memory. We want to thank the president of the community, Mr. Bernat User, who offered us a wide documentary material, including the study “Din trecutul comunitatii evreiesti din Barlad”, written by Traian Nicola.
Professions done with competence, passion an prestige
Tenacious, smart, creative – virtues acknowledged even by their enemies -, the Jews proved themselves in Barlad or, starting from here, in many other parts, in the most diverse jobs, their vocation never focusing exclusively on usury and trade (as even today there are people to insinuate this), but also with medicine, economics, advocacy, teaching, engineering, military, literature and arts, and apparently humble craftsâ€¦ All these represent what we may call “the cult for work”, realized with competence, passion and prestige. The following will prove all these, shedding the light on Barlad as a city of culture and creativity, a nursery for values.
Academics and correspondent members of the Academy
“It is worth mentioning the name of Dr. Wainfeld – said Mircea Gorun. He was a dentist. In his youth, he wrote poetry, under the name Ion Paloda. Then the legionary members came, and the war, and with that the racial laws started to be implemented. The laws were both material and moral. All the Jews have to clean the snow on the streets! Then Mr. Wainfeld appears, in a white coat, with the order “Crown of Romania” he received in the Great War. Not for long, in that day, some lawyers and doctors – Jews and non-Jews – came with their shovels, working shoulder by shoulder with Mr. Wainfeld. What a scandal! The intellectuals were sent home and spared from cleaning the streets. And then, they understood they can still do something”.
Generals and officers
Presidents of the community
From 1896 and until today, the community exists continuously, with the following presidents: 1896-1898 – S. Cremnitzer; 1899-1901 – M. Herscovici; 1902 – I. M. Sternlicht; 1905 – Dr. Schonsal; 1906 – I. Perlman; 1907 – L. Zissu; 1908 – Simon Cohn; 1909-1910 – M. Fraenkel, 1911-1912 – M. Roder; 1913-1916 – A. Broder; 1917-1919, 1923-1924 – H. Kamiel; 1919-1920 – Dr. Fridman; 1921-1923, 1930-1931 – Dr. Feinsilber; 1925 – I. M. Ilie; 1926-1929 – A. Iaroslavici; 1931-1932 – Marcu Zissu; 1932 – David Manole; 1933 – S. Mayersohn; 1933-1934 – I. H. Edelstein; 1934-1936 – Henry Grunberg; 1937 – Lawyer S. Fundoianu; 1939-1940 – Eng. I. Saraga; 1940 – Dr. S. Herscovici; 1941 – A. Tudic; 1944-1948 – Dr. H. Finkelstein; 1948-1955 – Mendel Goldstein; 1955-1965 – Misu Leibovici; 1965-1976 – Calman Bercovici; Lawyer Leon Iacobzon; 1976-1990 – Iosef Epstein; 1990-1992 – Professor Ditu Goldfarb; 1992 – Bernat User.
Wolf Kohn; Iacob Cofler; Copel Goldenstain; Haim David; Iosif Epstein – who became president of the community, and was followed by Bernat User, Moise Fridman, Leon Aizic, Meier Caufman.
“Templul – Cel – Mare” (founded in 1787); “Poalei Tedek” Temple – tailors (1844); Lazar Mendelovici was the guardian of the synagogue; between 1920 -1922, the synagogue was restored, modified and enhanced; “Fishermen Temple”; Stole Synagogue; Shoemakers Synagogue; Sole Makers Synagogue; “Rabin Liberman” Synagogue (dating back to 1860 – demolished); “Beit-Hamidras” Synagogue; “Alesker-Ruf” Synagogue; Officers Synagogue; The Synagogue within the Jewish Hospital; The Synagogue “Zeilic-Saraga Mill”.
Societies, Associaions, Prayer Houses
â€¢ 1878, June 10. The Israelite Commercial Society for Charity “Aurora” was established, President H. Schwartz: “â€¦ in this day the rays of humanity reached to our hearts, in this day we started to work for humanity, for the poor classes and for progressâ€¦ Â«union, fraternity, humanity and progressÂ»â€¦” (1879) â€¢1889, March 2. In Barlad, was established the reservist society “Ostasul”, that helped the reservists who were sent on the battlefield. â€¢ 1896, January 5. The establishment of cultural society for immigration “B’nai Zion” has been announced. â€¢ 1898-1899. A modern hospital has been built, the opening ceremony being officiated by Rabbi Dr. Meer Beck (1845-1923).â€¢ The Israelite hospital has been built in 1898. â€¢ 1899. It is established the “Cultura” society, in order to create a school for girls (“Baroneasa de Hirsch”). â€¢ 1891. It is established a section of “Asociatia evreilor pamanteni”. â€¢ The “Bikur Choilem” society, offering maintenance assistance to the old hospital. â€¢ “Chevra Kedosa” Sacred Society. â€¢ 1902 – 1904. The “Asylum for old and disabled people” has been built (30 places). Lazar Mendelovici, Iacob Zaidman, Herman Grunberg and Mayer Solomon made the proposal. Here have been built two ovens for producing matot. â€¢ The cemetery was parceled out, built between 1845-1850 and inaugurated in 1899. Tombstones – rosettes with eight petals meaning life, the sun, the crowns (Ketar), vine motifs, palm branch etc – symbols of life. Here were placed the graves of the Jewish heroes who died in the 1914-1918 war. A special monument where “are buried the sacred rolls desecrated in synagogues by fascistsâ€¦ brought from Basarabia”. â€¢ 1879. In “Typographia Â«BassarabiaÂ» lui George Catzafany” has been published the Annual review of the Israelite Commercial Society for Charity Â«AuroraÂ» in Berlad”, signed by President H. Schwartz. â€¢ 1934 – has been established the community canteen, offering one meal a day for the students (60). From 1940, there were two meals a day for poor people. The canteen is still functioning.
Born on November 10, 1927, in Barlad. Here he attended the Israelite-Romanian primary school and his following studies. His parents – his father was a waiter, his mother was a tailor. As a craftsman, he worked within the cooperative. He has a boy, teacher in Galati. He is still the president of the community (from November 15, 1992). Asking him to cooperate with us in writing these pages, we appreciated his devotion and his wish to perpetuate in the collective memory the history of his community. In his work with the community, Meier Caufman, secretary, and Mrs. Rebeca Caufman, accountant closely attend him.
B. 1923, in Husi (Falciu County). Today, he is the secretary of the Jewish community in Barlad. With devotion, he takes care – together with the president of the community – of the problems regarding the canteen, assistance, edifices, synagogue, cemeteries and aid.
The modern Rabbi Aizic Taubes (1837 – 1920) was a renowned Talmud specialist, attended by European Rabbis, descendent of “a historic family, whose genealogical tree it is said to go back to the renowned Rasiâ€¦” (C. Drimer), Rabbi in Barlad for over three decades. He was much esteemed by Anton Bacalbasa who, in 1897, published in the “Dreptatea” newspaper the interview titled “At Rabbi Taubes”. “Still young, he received the burden of being a Rabbi in Barlad and in Tutova County, being confirmed in this position thorough Royal Decree, in 1862 by Cuza Voda” (C. Drimer) . A fine specialist in Hebrew language and literature, he also translated in Hebrew “Cantul gintei latine” by Vasile Alecsandri. In 1891, he published “Is the Jew a danger for the nation where he lives?”, a replica to N. Ceaur Aslan and his anti-Semitic propaganda. Together with B.F. Peixotto, he propagated the idea of immigration. In 1872, he took part to the Israelite Congress in Brussels, to “deliberate about the Romanian Jews problems”, being invited by Cremieux.
“â€¦ Rabbi Taubes made a profound impression on me, as a biblical savant” (A. Bacalbasa) .
“In the book of Rabbis in this country, the name of Rabbi Aizic Taubes will remain” (M. Schwarzfeld) .
Over 260 years from the first documentary attestation of the communityâ€¦
The oldness of our community – “the case of Barlad” is not an exception, but will remain a bright example – has no connection with the legends and rumours, but with the clear truth of the documents. Of course, not from the effective start of their presence in these places, but still with many years ahead in the history. And what other confirmation more convincing would ever need the Jews of Barlad, proud of their community full of the noblesse of its oldness, than the one of the great historian Nicolae Iorga, who in the 6th volume of his “Studies and documents” wrote that, in 1738, in Barlad, “Marcu of Lazar is named chief to take care of all the needs and of all your shacks and for him to be, together with two or three others elected by you”. The attestation – bearing the seal of the Moldavian prince, Grigore Ghica – is mentioned again by the famous Â«Enciclopedia IudaicaÂ». From the document we find out that in Barlad existed a community quantitatively present and qualitatively structured, capable of electing its leadership and, obviously, even older – maybe three centuries old.
â€¦ And the testimonies are succeeding with the certitude of indisputable facts.
Impressive and dramatic was the demographic decrease of this community: from 3,737 in 1930 (14.2% of the whole population) and 3,224 in 1942 (13%), the statistics mentions only 100 families in 1969.
And today there are only 34 souls left! A small-numbered community, but great in traditions, in its power – still alive – of spiritual irradiation, through its diverse personalities who – ranging from Axelrad and to our contemporaries Lucian Raicu, W. Siegfried, Virgil Duda or I. Schechter – placed this community on the map of well-known values of civilization and culture!
So not only chief Marcu of Lazar fought the oblivion, but also his descendants in their thousands – some of them still keeping burning in Barlad a Jewish fire, others taking with them in the world something from the spirituality of those who once lived in this Moldavian town.
The Barlad community received rightly the historic perennially diploma. Those pages try to mark the accomplishments and dreams in the memory of the whole ethnic group and in the memory of the country.
Schools, teaching staff: lyceum and university teachers
Ioan Barblat – He was born in Barlad, on January 20, 1907 (his father, Mendel Barbalata, was a gynecologist). He took his degree in mathematics in Sorbonne (1930), he was university professor at the Polytechnic Institute in Bucharest, participating at international congresses of mathematics, and he was doctor in mathematical sciences. He published “Curs de analiza”; “Culegere de probleme de matematica”; “Analiza matematica si matematici speciale” etc.
The Jews from Barlad – a zionist outpost
There are many other Romanian towns that had early merits in Alia, be it directly or indirectly, through other countries and stop places. While Barlad is placed on this trend, it has a particularity which attests the unvanquished will, courage, noble stubbornness to win over the obstacles. It was – chronologically speaking – the first town from where the immigrants started to leave on foot. Winged by the verb of fire of some people from their own town, such as Axelrad or Dr. H. Fridman – Sigfrid, by the enthusiastic letter of no less than six newspapers in Barlad destined to the immigrants, they and other Jews from Romania entered the rows of pedestrians. This idea was born in a teahouse in Barlad, owned by Herman Sercus, who enlivened from the stage his co-religionists.
In time, organizations and personalities passed by that, galvanizing the consciences, guided this impetus towards the Jews’ golden dream: returning to their country, The Holy Land.
Culture, art, sport
Among the personalities who gave and still give brightness to the culture and art in Barlad we mention:
A. AXELRAD (1879-1963)
He was born in Barlad. He edited, in 1900, the “Aurora” weekly. He edited publications for the popularization of science (“Minunile naturii”, “Oameni si idei”), lyric volumes: “Avere de evreu pribeag/Dureri inabusite”, comprehensive and studies, about culture, science and the economic situation in the country (see R.E., no. 98).
“I’ve inherited only this: / The Jewish pain! / And day by day it grown bigger / The fortune of our ancestors”. (From “Ladita cu necazuri”)
FELIX ADERCA (1891-1962)
He was born in Tutova County, which had its residence in Barlad until 1950. The people of Barlad remember this fact with legit pride, and also the fact that the library in Puiesti bears his name.
Editor for “Viata noastra” and editor-in-chief for “Izvoare”, first editor at “Ultima ora”. He was laureate of the Zion Price for literature. He was member of the Association of the Israeli Writers of Romanian Language. “The satire doesn’t correct the customs, but it denounces them and makes fun of themâ€¦ the villains are incurable”. â€¦ Here are their “Ten Commandments”â€¦
I.Do not kill continuously.
II.Do not steal in all foolishness.
III.Do not endorse.
IV.Be watchful in your sleep.
V.Do not regret the crimes before committing them.
VI.Do not be afraid to compromise yourself.
VII.Be what you seem.
IX.Honor the ones who pay for it.
Radu Nichita Rapaport
He was born in 1926, in Barlad. He translated several important plays as “The Storm” (“Furtuna”) by Shakespeare, “Two on a rocking chair” (“Doi pe un balansoar”), “After the fall (“Dupa cadere”); he also was the the literary secretary for the Teatrul Mic. He passed away in 1979
VIRGIL DUDA (Leibovici Rubin)
He was a recognized novelist in Romania. “For me (Barlad) was, in a way, the center of the universe”. He was born in Barlad, in 1939. In 1988, he makes Alia. He was laureate of the 1992 prize for literature rewarded by “Arcadia” club. He was editor of the “Ultima ora” newspaper. He was also vice-president of the Association of the Israeli Writers of Romanian Language. His debut volume, “Anchetatorul apatic” (stories), novels – “Deruta”, “Al doilea pasaj” etc. – published in Romania before 1988.
LUCIAN RAICU (Leibovici Bernard)
He was the brother of Virgil Duda. He was born in Iasi. He attended the lyceum in Barlad. He settled in France. He was a scrupulously careful analyst, with pertinent observations, subtle and full of critical finesse. He is ex-editor of “Gazeta literara” and “Romania literara”. He is one of the most revered literary critics of his generation. Works: the essay “Liviu Rebreanu”, a scrupulously careful analysis of his novels; “Critica – forma de viata”, “Gogol sau fantasticul banalitatii” etc.
MIRCEA GORUN (Marcu Grunberg)
He came from Barlad. In 1987 he makes Alia. His occupation was typographer. He is the father of the poetess Irina Gorun Bercovici (z.l.) – mathematician, especially appreciated by Grigore Moisil. From his unlimited love for literature, he created the mini-magazine “Pro si contra”, “Caiete literare Menora”, the emotional “Mape de grafica”, in which included some of the most beautiful literary creations.
I. M. STEFAN (Sragher Alexandru Sergiu)
He was the son of an agronomist, a man of culture, writer, and historian of sciences; through the volume “Scurta istorie a creatiei stiintifice si tehnice romanesti” (together with Edmond Nicolau) he popularized the Romanian scientists, but also in other scientific works, and writings about the history of science, the social history and futurology. In this spirit, he offered conferences about “Stiinta iudaica antica si medievala”, “Personalitati evreiesti in stiinta si tehnica din Romania” etc. The first S.F. novel is due to I. M. Stefan and Radu Nor.
MARCEL SARAGEA (1914-1998)
He was born in Barlad. He is the creator of the classes in physiotherapeutic pathology ever thought in Romania. All the things created by Prof. Dr. Doc. Marcel Saragea (z.l.) was for the ones to whom he worked with devotion and love: his family, his students, his patients, his friends and colleagues, but first of all the Jewish community he was part of and also for Romania. He attended the lyceum in Barlad, and then the Faculty of Medicine in Bucharest, where he specialized in physiotherapeutic pathology. He was a professor, chief of the first department of physiotherapeutic pathology in the country at I.M.F., deputy minister for health. From 1977, he involves very deeply in the community life, becoming the first director of the newly established home “Amalia si Sef Rabin dr. Moses Rosen”, “a home developed by him, guided by him, which attended with devotionâ€¦”, underlined the academic Nicolae Cajal. He is author of numerous specialized works, among them we mention “Tratatul de Fiziopatologie” in four volumes, which would bring him the prize of the Romanian Academy; he was an honorary member of the Academy for Medical Sciences.
Iulia Deleanu and E. Suhor – two “twined” signatures of a remarkable publicist, capable to differentiate herself without any effort, to substitute, to reintegrate in an unique identity and to become the journalist with the most articles, features, chronicles and interesting interviews published in the 20 years since Iulia Schwartz, the daughter of Barlad, began to work, immediately after finishing her studies, at “Revista Cultului Mozaic” and to “cover”, through her writings, entire pages of the magazine. Among the columns that resisted in time we mention “Introspectii. Biografii. Confesiuni” – texts united in the volume “Cu sufletul deschis”, collection of literary portraits and conversations with over 60 Jewish personalities, a first part of a trilogy from whom the second volume, “Firul invizibil”, is in preparation.
(Pages edited by Evelin Fonea)