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Schwarzfeld

SCHWARZFELD

SCHWARZFELD , Romanian family whose members were prominent in literary activity in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its first notable member, benjamin schwarzfeld (1822–1897), was born in Galicia, and settled with his family in *Jassy when he was a boy. In his early years he wrote Hebrew poems and translated German poetry into Hebrew which were published in Hebrew periodicals. He also wrote articles on the contemporary situation of the Jews in Moldavia. He was among the pioneers of Haskalah in *Romania, and founded the first modern Jewish school in Jassy (1853–57). In 1860 he was appointed inspector of the Jewish schools in Moldavia. He was active on the board of the modern temple (founded in 1861), was a member of the community council, and of the governing board of the Jewish hospital in Jassy. He was also a banker and founded an insurance business.

Benjamin's sons, Elias, Wilhelm, and Moses (see below), were journalists and historians, and may be regarded as the founders of Jewish historiography in Romania. Benjamin's nephew was the poet Benjamin Fundoianu, known later in France under the name Benjamin *Fondane. The eldest son, elias schwarzfeld (1855–1915), historian and novelist, founded Revista Izraelită in 1874 in which he published his first Jewish novel. He edited a political weekly, Fraternitatea from 1881 to 1885. In 1881 he graduated in law. His main achievement was in the field of history of the Jews in Romania. He published numerous historical studies, mostly in Anuarul pentru Israeliţi ("Jewish Yearbook"), edited by his brother Moses. As vice president of the Fraternitatea Zion lodge he was instrumental in founding B'nai B'rith lodges in Romania. He was among the Romanian Jewish writers who were expelled in 1885 for attacking the official antisemitic policy. Settling in Paris, he became secretary of the Jewish Colonization *Association (ica). There Schwarzfeld continued his historical activity, and was coeditor of the Egalitatea founded in 1890 in Bucharest by his brother Moses. He wrote Les Juifs en Roumanie (1901) combating the assertions of anti-Jewish Romanian historians. His two essays, "The Jews of Romania from the earliest time to the present day" and "The situation of the Jews in Romania since the Berlin Treaty" (1878), were published in the American Jewish Year Book for 5662 (1901–02); other essays on the history of the Jews in Romania appeared in Jewish Quarterly Review and Revue des études juives. In 1914 he published the history of the founding of the Jewish villages in Moldavia. Schwarzfeld also wrote several novels on Jewish themes.

His brother, the third son of Benjamin, moses schwarzfeld (moisi, 1857–1943), was also a prolific writer on Jewish subjects. At the age of 20 he edited the first issue of Anuarul pentru Israeliţi ("Jewish Yearbook"), a collection of studies in Jewish history and folklore which appeared for 19 years, to which the most noted Jewish writers in Romania contributed. His biography of the Romanian Jewish author, Moïse *Cilibi (1883; 19012), attracted attention, and in 1887–90 he edited three volumes of the proceedings of the Julius *Barasch Historical Society, named after the noted Jewish physician and author (on whom he also wrote a monograph in 1919); he published several historical essays there. The weekly he founded in 1890, Egalitatea, dealt widely with Jewish affairs and was Zionist in tendency; it appeared for 45 years. Of no less importance was his work as a recorder of Jewish folklore. He collected more than 10,000 Jewish fables and proverbs.

The second son of Benjamin, wilhelm schwarzfeld (1856–1894), researched the tombstone inscriptions in the Jewish cemetery at Jassy, and investigated the history of Jews of Moldavia who had been converted to Christianity. He also took an active part in the development of the Julius Barasch Historical Society, and published a number of historical and philological essays.

bibliography:

M. Schwarzfeld, in: Anuarul pentru Israeliţi, 19 (1897–99), 177–87.

[Theodor Lavi]

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