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ORGEYEV (Rom. Orhei ), city in Bessarabia district, Moldova. Jews are first mentioned in Orgeyev in 1741. The community developed after the Russian annexation of Bessarabia in 1812 when many Jews immigrated to the region. There were 3,102 Jews registered in 1864 and 7,144 (57.9% of the total population) in 1897. They established educational and welfare institutions, and in 1865 a talmud torah was opened where secular studies were also taught; in 1877 a hospital and an old age home were founded. The Jews of Orgeyev were mostly businessmen and craftsmen, but some were viniculturists on the outskirts of the town. In the late 1890s an agricultural training school was founded and it was active until 1902, receiving support from the Jewish Colonization Association (ica). Among the 1,480 members registered in the loan fund in 1925 there were 286 farmers. In 1919 a training farm was opened. Owing to the influence of the Zionist movement Hebrew was taught in many schools. In 1927 ort started a vocational woodworking school for boys, and a vocational tailoring school for girls. In 1930 there were 6,408 Jews (41.9% of the total population).

[Eliyahu Feldman]

Holocaust Period and After

When war broke out (June 1941) the Soviet army, which had been in Orgeyev from the previous June, helped Jews to escape. Some got to Kryulyany (Criuleni) and wandered from there. One group roamed through southern Russia on foot; of these, some were killed in German air raids, while others succumbed to the cold or died from starvation and disease. The survivors eventually reached Stalingrad, where the authorities dispersed them among the kolkhozes. When the front drew near, they were sent on to the Ural Mountains, central Asia, and Uzbekistan. One large group of Orgeyev Jews was located at Tashkent and the surrounding area. Those Jews who remained in Orgeyev came to a bitter end. When the German-Romanian forces entered on July 8–10, a Jewish delegation presented itself before them to welcome them with bread and salt, but all its members were murdered on the spot. The Jewish population was enclosed in a ghetto, where it lived under extremely crowded conditions and was exposed to constant maltreatment and daily murders. On August 6, about 200 Jews were murdered by the 25th Romanian regiment and their bodies were thrown into the Dniester. In 1942 all the survivors were deported to the concentration camp at Tiraspol, Transnistria; their exit from the city was accompanied by the music of a gypsy band and the old people were forced to dance in the streets. When the transport reached a nearby forest, the young men among the deportees were taken to an open field where they underwent torture and where many were shot to death by the soldiers. Others died on the way to Tiraspol and others in the Transnistrian camps. Only a few lived to see the end of the war.

There was little Jewish life after the war. The only synagogue in Orgeyev was closed down by the authorities in 1960, after they had organized a "petition" claiming that its presence was disturbing the neighbors. The Jewish population in 1970 was estimated at about 3,000. Most left in the 1990s.

[Jean Ancel]


Orheiyov be-Vinyanah u-ve-Ḥurbanah (1959); M. Mircu, Pogromurile din Basarabia… (1947), 9–10.