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Mihaileni

MIHAILENI

MIHAILENI (Rom. Mihṭileni ), town in Moldavia, N.E. Romania. When the town was founded in 1792 only Jews from the other side of the border were permitted to settle in the locality. The prayer house of the Jews and their ritual bathhouse were exempted from taxes, and during the first year Jewish merchants did not have to pay taxes. In 1834 the town became the property of the prince of Moldavia, Michael Sturdza. Eager to develop the town, he granted Jewish craftsmen special privileges, exempting them from taxes for five years. He also encouraged merchants to settle there by granting loans. From a population of 516 in 1820 the number of Jews reached 2,472 (67.6% of the total population), in 1859. In 1903 there were 248 Jewish and 58 Christian merchants in the town. The majority of the Jews were engaged in commerce, especially the fur trade. Jewish carriers plied their trade throughout the whole area; they had their own prayer house. An organized community dates from 1897. A Jewish primary school was founded in 1899. After World War i, with the Romanian annexation of Bessarabia and Bukovina, Mihaileni lost its position as a frontier town. In 1930 only 1,490 Jews (32%) remained in the town. In the same year, the Jewish Party obtained the majority of votes in the local council elections. The peasants preferred it to the other parties, asserting that the Jews were more capable administrators. The election, however, was canceled by the authorities. On the eve of World War ii there were nine prayer houses, a ritual bath, a primary school, and a cemetery in Mihaileni. The Hebrew author of the Haskalah periodMarcus *Strelisker lived and died in Mihaileni. The Yiddish poet Jacob *Groper (1890–1966) was born there.

In World War ii the Jews of Mihaileni were deported to *Transnistria. Few returned to Mihaileni after the war; the majority emigrated. The Jewish population numbered 680 in 1947, 400 in 1950, and about ten families in 1969.

bibliography:

pk Romaniya 180–1; E. Schwarzfeld, Impopularea, reîmpopularea şi întemeierea tîrgurilor şi tîrguşoarelorîm Noldova (1914), 26–33, 43, 82–83, 101–3; M. Schwarzfeld, in: Analele Societǎţś istorice Juliu Barasch, 2 (1888), 28–29, 117; Fraternitatea, 4 (1882), 345.

[Theodor Lavi]

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