BOTOSANI (Rom. Botoşani ), town in N.E. Romania. Up to the end of the 19th century it had the second largest and most important Jewish community in Moldavia, apparently originating in the 17th century. There was a considerable community in Botosani by the early 18th century. In 1745 merchants in Botosani, including Jews, were granted the right to own their houses by the prince (gospodar). In 1799 Prince Alexander Ypsilanti gave a privilege (now in the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem) to the Botosani community granting it the status of an autonomous corporation. In 1803 there were 350 Jewish families paying taxes in the town. In the 19th century the community increased as a result of Jewish immigration into Moldavia and in 1899 it numbered 16,817 (51.8% of the total population). By the early 19th century the Jews of Botosani had trade connections with Leipzig and Brody, and contributed to the economic development of the town. A growing number engaged in crafts. The Christian population demanded that the authorities should ban Jews from these occupations. Despite this opposition, by 1899 more than 75% of the merchants and approximately 68% of the artisans in Botosani were Jewish. There were anti-Jewish riots in 1879. Anti-Jewish feelings again flared up during the Romanian peasant revolt in 1907. When the Jewish communities in Romania were deprived of their official status at the beginning of the 1860s, sharp internal conflicts in the Botosani community led to its disintegration and disruption of its activities; many of its institutions closed down. In 1866 Hillel Kahana, the Hebrew writer and educator, founded a secular Jewish school in Botosani. Despite opposition from Orthodox circles and several temporary closures, it existed up to the outbreak of World War ii, in part supported by the Alliance Israélite Universelle. The Hebrew writers David Isaiah *Silberbusch, Ẓevi Lazar *Teller, and Israel *Teller taught there. At the beginning of 1882 Silberbusch and Teller published the first two numbers of the Hebrew monthly Ha-Or in Botosani. After World War i the community was reorganized. It numbered 11,840 in 1930 (36.6% of the total population). Institutions maintained by the community included two primary schools (for boys and girls) and a vocational school for girls. In 1940, all the Jewish men between 15 and 70 years of age were taken to forced labor. Around 11,000 Jews from small towns, and villages (Sulita, Frumusica, Ripiceni, Heci-Lespezi, Targu-Frumos, Falticeni, Pascani, Stefanesti, Mihaileni) were forcibly moved to or found refuge in Botosani. They lived in poverty, aided by the community. After the outbreak of war against the U.S.S.R. (June 22, 1941), around 8,000 Jews from Botosani worked at forced labor, half of them in Bessarabia, Transnistria, Dobruja, and Jassy. The community helped many pauperized Jews. Two Jewish secondary schools were founded for the Jewish pupils excluded from the public schools. After the war, when the evacuees from the villages in the area and those who returned from Transnistria settled in the city, Botosani's total Jewish population numbered 19,550 (1947). A few years later most of the population settled in Israel, leaving 500 families and four synagogues in 1969. The local shoḥet also served as the community's rabbi. In 2004, 125 Jews lived in Botosani, with a functioning synagogue.
J.B. Brociner, Chestiunea Israelitilor Romani (1910), 169–75; A. Gorovei, Monografia Orasului Botosani (1926), passim; E. Tauber, in: Anuarul Evreilor din Romania (1937), 151–57; pk Romanyah, I, 29–39; M. Carp, Cartea Neagra, 1 (1946), 154, 158. add. bibliography: fedrom-Comunitati Evreiesti din Romania (Internet, 2004).
[Eliyahu Feldman and
Theodor Lavi /
Lucian-Zeev Herscovici (2nd ed.)]