Barasch, Julius

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BARASCH, JULIUS (Judah ; 1815–1863), physician, writer, and communal leader from Walachia, Romania. Barasch, who was born in Brody, began his education in traditional Torah studies, but later came to the ideas of the *Haskalah and studied philosophy in Leipzig and medicine in Berlin. In the period of his studies, he published several articles in German and Hebrew in Jewish journals and became friends with Moritz *Steinschneider. In 1841, after becoming a doctor of medicine, he settled in Bucharest where he practiced. From 1843 he served as a government physician, at first in Calarasi and Craiova and from 1859 in Bucharest. In addition he taught science in several colleges, being the first teacher in this field in Walachia. Barasch did much to popularize science by organizing lectures and courses for the public and publishing textbooks and periodicals on popular topics. His Romanian-language book Minunile Naturii ("Natural Wonders," 1 vol., 1850; 3 vols., 1852) and periodical Isis sau Natura ("Isis or Nature," 1856–59) were the first of their kind in Romania. In these publications Barasch attempted to formulate a scientific terminology in Romanian. He played a decisive role in spreading Enlightenment (Haskalah) among Bucharest Jewry. Barasch initiated the establishment of the first secular Jewish school in Walachia, which opened in Bucharest in 1851. For a time he served as its principal. He polemicized against Orthodoxy and also against baptism, and advocated a Judaism for every Jew. From his point of view, reform had to be very moderate and mostly esthetic in order to attract wayward Jews to Jewish religious life. Barasch encouraged the founding of the Societatea de Cultura Israelita ("Association for Jewish Culture") in 1862, which he directed. In 1857 he helped to found the first Jewish periodical in Walachia, Israelitul Roman, which appeared in Romanian and in French and was established principally to further the cause of Jewish emancipation in Walachia. Barasch saw Hebrew as the unifying bond of the Jewish people and did much to promote Hebrew literature. He conceived the idea of publishing a scientific encyclopedia in Hebrew for East European Jews who were not fluent in West European languages, spreading scientific knowledge and Haskalah ideas among them, but only one volume, on philosophy, was published – Oẓar Ḥokhmah, 1856). Barasch wrote on Jewish subjects in German, describing Jewish communities in countries and localities he visited. The accounts are an important source of knowledge of Jewish life in the mid-19th century in the communities concerned and particularly of the history of the Jews in Romania.


A. Zaltzman, in: Iyyun (1952), 151–68; M. Schwarzfeld, Dr. Iuliu Barasch (Rom., 1919), incl. bibl. add. bibliography: L.Z. Herscovici, in: The Jews in Romanian History (1999), 61–69; P. Cernovodeanu, in: Jaloane pentru o viitoare istorie (1996), 127–40.

[Eliyahu Feldman /

Lucian-Zeev Herscovici (2nd ed.)]