IZMAIL (Rom. Ismail ), city in Bessarabia, Romania, today Ukraine. Jews are first mentioned in Izmail in 1769. The community developed after the Russian annexation of Bessarabia in 1812; Jewish immigrants received the same privileges as other new settlers in the city. In 1827 there were 549 Jews in Izmail and in 1847, 1,105. As the community grew, the "great synagogue" (1825) and a bet midrash (1826) were built. In the middle of the 19th century a government-run Jewish school was opened. After the region was incorporated into Romania in 1856, the Jews were oppressed by the Romanian authorities. Severe anti-Jewish riots occurred in 1872 when money and church vessels were stolen from the main church by a convert to Christianity, who when arrested accused several Jews, including one of the heads of the community and the rabbi, of sending him to desecrate the church. The riots aroused international opinion which resulted in the vigorous intervention of the representatives of the great powers in Romania. When the district of Izmail was ceded to Russia in 1878, many Jews were considered aliens and the authorities expelled them to Romania. The Romanians, however, returned them to Russia. They were not granted the status of Russian citizens until 1892. At that time, the Jews of Izmail suffered from the restrictions in force in Russia on Jewish residence in border areas. On October 23 1905, 50 Jews were killed in a pogrom and shops and houses were looted and destroyed. There were 2,781 Jews in Izmail (12.5% of the total population) in 1897 and 1,623 (6.5%) in 1930. The communal institutions then included a kindergarten and a *Tarbut elementary school. During Soviet rule (1940–41) many wealthy Jews were exiled to Bolgrad and Siberia. The community was destroyed when the Germans and Romanians entered Bessarabia in July 1941. Those exiled to Bolgrad were murdered there and those remaining in Izmail were taken by Romanian soldiers to Vadui Lui Traian and killed there. In 1970 the Jewish population of Izmail was estimated at 1,000 persons. Though many left in the 1990s, Jewish life began to revive under Rabbi Shneur Alperovich, with a synagogue, day school, and kindergarten in operation.
Y. Reicher, in: Sinai, Sefer ha-Shanah shel ha-Ḥevrah le-Ḥokhmat Yisrael be-Romanyah, 3 (1931), ix–xii; E. Feldman, in: Sefer Yahadut Bessarabia (1971), passim; L.P. Gartner, in: ajhsq, 58 (1968), 68–74.
[Eliyahu Feldman /
Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]