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Roman

ROMAN

ROMAN , town in Bacau province, Moldavia, N.E. Romania. According to a popular tradition, the first Jews settled in Roman in the second half of the 15th century. Another source attributes the beginning of the Jewish settlement there to the early 16th century. In 1579 the Jews were expelled, according to this source, by the prince of Moldavia. Jews in Roman are first mentioned in Romanian documents from the beginning of the 18th century, and the oldest Jewish tombstones there date from this period. In 1714 a case of blood *libel occurred in Roman. In 1825 priests demanded that the Jewish cemetery should be closed claiming that it was in the center of the town, but the Moldavian ruler rejected their request. The priests then brought several actions against the community, resulting in 1849 in compulsory closure of the cemetery which was subsequently also desecrated. In 1846 the community acquired land for a new cemetery. At first the "Jewish guild" assumed the community functions; subsequently some of them were taken over by the ḥevra kaddisha whose minute book is preserved from 1793. There were 16 prayerhouses, including the Great Synagogue (The Taylor's Synagogue). In 1875 the hostel for travelers (*hekdesh) was converted into a modern hospital and old-age home. The community bath (mikveh) also served as a public bath for Christians, being the only one in town.

The Jewish population numbered 288 in 1803, and 1,200 in 1831; it had increased to 6,432 by 1899 (39% of the total population). Persecutions led many Jews to emigrate in 1900 and the following years. The number of the Jews in Roman had decreased to 4,728 by 1910. In 1930 they numbered 5,963 (28% of the total population). At the beginning of the 19th century, the majority of the Jews were occupied in crafts; the number of those engaged in commerce increased by the early 20th century.

In 1865 Jewish educational institutions in Roman included a talmud torah and 20 ḥadarim, some belonging to the craftsmen, and others to the Ḥasidim. A modern Jewish elementary school, opened on directions of the authorities in 1860, was subsequently closed. In 1893, when Jews were expelled from the public schools, a new modern elementary school was opened with the aid of the Jewish Colonization *Association (ica), and in 1899 a school for girls was founded. Among rabbis in Roman were David Isaacson, who officiated from 1839 to 1907, and his nephew, Solomon Isaacson (1910–47).

After World War i the community underwent reorganization. From 1926 its board was appointed by the government from among Jews who were members of the ruling party. Jews also served on the local council but as representatives of the Romanian parties. Antisemitism was strong in Roman especially between the two world wars, encouraged by the bishop, Lucian Triteanu, one of the leading antisemites in Romania. In 1910 A. *Cuza, the head of the antisemitic party, was elected deputy in this city, and in 1930 as representative of Roman in the Romanian parliament.

The community was not liquidated in the Holocaust. The Jewish population numbered 7,900 in 1947, and 4,500 in 1950. Most of them left for Israel and by 1969 there were about 150 Jewish families. Two synagogues were in existence.

bibliography:

pk Romanyah, 1 (1970), 246–53; J. Kaufman, in: Revista israelitǎ, 1 (1886), 694–8, 759–65; 2 (1887), 27–28, 194, 221; 3 (1888), 111–37; Melchisedek (Bishop of Husi), Cronica Romanului şi a Episcopiei de Roman… (1874), 36–39, 133; S. Wechsler, Contribuţie la monografia Comunitaǎţii evreieşti din Roman (1929); S. Rivenzon, Şcoala evreiascaǎ din tîrgul Romanului… (1933); M. Schwarzfeld, in: Anuar pentru israeliţi, 13 (1890/91), 1–29; A. Cramer, in: Almanahul Ziarului Tribuna evreeascaǎ, 1 (1937/38), 239–41.

[Theodor Lavi]

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