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Roman-Ronetti, Moïse

ROMAN-RONETTI, MOÏSE

ROMAN-RONETTI, MOÏSE (originally Aharon Blumenfeld ; 1847–1908), Romanian author. Born in Oziran, East Galicia, Roman-Ronetti emigrated to Romania in 1867 (using the identity papers of a dead Romanian peasant named Roman). He earned his living by teaching Hebrew and Jewish studies, but in 1869 some friends helped him to get to Germany, where he was given a scholarship by the Alliance Israélite *Universelle. He studied a variety of subjects, including medicine and philology, before returning to Bucharest in 1874. For a time he was a schoolteacher and then became a translator at the foreign ministry, but in 1882 he left the city and became a farmer. During the peasants' revolt of 1907, he fled with his family to Jassy, where he learned that the peasants had burned his home and destroyed all his property. He never recovered from the shock. Roman-Ronetti had already begun publishing articles on Judaism and Talmud in Hebrew periodicals before he left Oziran, and he continued to contribute to such periodicals as Ivri Anokhi (Brody, Ukraine) and Ha-Maggid (Lyck, Poland), signing himself Moshe Roman.

His first published work in Romanian was a poem, "Russia," which appeared in the newspaper Reforma in 1877. In the same year he put out a pamphlet, Domnul Kanitverstan ("Mr. Kanitverstan"), attacking the notorious antisemitic writer V.A. Ureche, in whose school he had been a teacher. In 1898 he attacked the antisemitic policy of the government in the widely read newspaper Adevarul. Discussing Jewish survival, he opposed official Romanian policy toward the Jews who, in his opinion, were entitled to a national life of their own. These essays were later collected in Douǎ mǎsuri ("Two Measures", 1898). Roman-Ronetti's most important work was the play Manasse (1900), which had a dual theme: the conflict between three generations of Jews and the antagonism between gentiles and Jews. Performed before the Romanian royal family, the play had a warm reception by leading critics, but it provoked serious unrest among antisemitic students, who were opposed to its production at the Bucharest National Theater. Manasse was translated into several languages, including Hebrew and Yiddish, and was staged in many countries. The English version is entitled New Lamps for Old (1913).

bibliography:

E. Lovinescu, Istoria Literaturii Române Contemporane, 1 (1926), 60–70; G. Calinescu, Istoria Literaturii Romîne… (1941), 488–9; Sadoveanu, in: Foi de Toamnǎ (1916); jc (Jan. 28, 1910); Jaffe, in: Me'assef, 5–6 (1965/66), 445–59.

[Dora Litani-Littman]

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