Loyal to the mission it has had since its foundation, in 1843 (“to unite the Jews in service of their community and of the whole world”), B’nai B’rith International initiated in 2002 the “Romanian Jewish Heritage” (RJH) Project, enjoying a non-refundable finance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The partner of the project is The Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania.
The main objectives of the project are the development of a digital archive of the Jewish communities in Romania, the creation of a “Trail of the Jewish Heritage”, the establishment of the “Romanian Jewish Heritage” Foundation and the organization of a conference meant to stimulate inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue.
The most important objective put into practice is the bilingual (Romanian and English) website www.romanianjewish.org, containing both a data archive that is continually expanding, and sources of information on topical issues.
The section dedicated to the cultural heritage of the Jews in Romania presents monographic studies about the most important Jewish communities in the country, thus sketching a trail of the Jewish heritage that comprises the following towns and cities so far: Iasi, Botosani, Falticeni, Roman, Piatra Neamt, Moinesti, Barlad, Galati, Braila, Buzau, Ploiesti, Craiova, Gheorghieni, Targu-Mures, Cluj-Napoca, Oradea and Timisoara. The mini-monographs portray the cultural life and the activities of the Jewish communities and feature profiles and photos of the personalities born in those places.
So far, the website’s data base only contains the Archive of the Center for the History of the Jews in Romania, which records about 1.100 people deported during the Holocaust (the archive is to reach 30.000 names by the end of this year). Five other archives are being developed. The website also hosts photos of the synagogues in Romania and of the “Filantropia” cemetery (Bucharest), information about the History Museum of the Jews in Romania “Chief rabbi dr. Moses Rosen”, a list of the Jewish entrepreneurs in Moldavia during 1879 and 1950 (containing excerpts from over 40.000 files), reproductions of some works by Jewish painters, the up-to-date program of the Jewish State Theater. The “Memory and Lucidity” section keeps documents about the Holocaust, while the section entitled “Anti-Semitism in Romania” gathers articles about anti-Semite manifestations.
The website also tries to record the topical events related to the Jewish life in Romania, by reproducing or adapting media news on this subject. The electronic newsletter edited and provided for free by RJH has almost 70 subscribers. It is used to inform on the latest add-ons to the website, which include the most important news of the ISRO-Press agency, led by the well-known journalist Uli Valureanu, who served as manager of the ARPress news agency for several years, and now lives in Haifa, Israel.
The future intentions of the project include increasing the digital data base. Five new name archives will be added soon.
As we speak, work is in progress for the completion of a CD of a significant documentary value, mainly under the coordination of historian Harry Culler. This CD will attempt to give a full image of the role played by the Jewish community in the Romanian culture and civilization. The information will be structured according to the following sections: “History”, “Demographics”, “Community institutions”, “Associations and organizations”, “Jewish spirituality”, “The Holocaust”, “Contributions to culture”, “Civilization”, “Cult and religious culture”, “Yiddish and Hebrew culture”, “Chronological table”.
RJH also intends to design tours that would cover the “Trail of the Jewish Heritage” as much as possible. Such tours will meet the spiritual need of many Jews (especially from the US and Israel) who want to trace their roots. They will also popularize the Jewish cultural objectives and promote tourism in general.
Finally, B’nai B’rith International is planning to organize, through RJH, a series of seminars and conferences meant to encourage the dialogue between the representatives of the minority groups. Because, apart from revitalizing the Jewish culture in Romania, the RJH project also aims at supporting inter-ethnic cooperation.