TARGU-MURES (Rum. Tîrgu-Mureş ; Ger. Neumarkt ; Hung. Marosvásárhely ), town in Transylvania, central Romania; until the end of World War i and between 1940 and 1945 within Hungary. As Jewish residence in Targu-Mures was prohibited from 1650, Jews at first established themselves in the neighboring villages of Náznánfalva (Nasna) and Marosszentkirály. Beginning in the 16th century, and more so in the 17th, Jews from the Ottoman Empire (Sephardim) arrived in large numbers. In 1836 Jews began to settle in the town itself, most of them coming from these villages. There were 23 Jews living in Targu-Mures in 1837, and 36 in 1841. During the period of the 1848–49 revolution, their number increased to 169. An organized community was founded in 1851. After the legal emancipation of the Austro-Hungarian Jews the majority of Targu-Mures Jews used Hungarian as their everyday means of communication, making a marked contribution to Hungarian culture. Between 1869 and 1879 there was a *Neologist community. An *Orthodox community was established in 1871. The original community decided to remain *status quo ante. The Great Synagogue, later taken over by the Orthodox congregation, was erected in 1873. Another large and magnificent synagogue was opened in 1899. A school maintained by the community was open between 1880 and 1940. There was also a yeshivah maintained by the Orthodox community. The Jewish population numbered 802 (6.1% of the total) in 1869; 1,036 (7.1%) in 1890; 2,755 (10.8%) in 1910; 3,246 (10.7%) in 1920; and 5,193 (13.6%) in 1930. One of most important characteristics of the Jews in Targu-Mures was their openness toward cultural innovation.
A Jewish club was organized in the town between the two world wars where a variety of cultural activities took place. Zionist organizations were active, and the national headquarters of the Zionist youth movement Avivah-Barisia was situated for a while in Targu-Mures.
Holocaust and Contemporary Periods
During World War ii the Jewish population, which numbered 5,963 (12.7%) in 1941, increased when a number of Jews from the surrounding area, including a small number of proselytes from nearby villages, were concentrated in a ghetto there. Around 1,200 Jewish men were drafted into labor battalions, over half dying. The remaining Jews were ghettoized. Starting in late May 1944, 7,000 of them were deported to Auschwitz; 1,200 survived. Among those murdered in Auschwitz were the two rabbis of the town, the Orthodox rabbi Menahem Emanuel Sofer, who had held office from 1918, and Dr. Ferenc Loewy (b. 1869) who had held office from 1903, and who wrote a number of studies on the history of the Jews of Transylvania.
After the war, in 1947, 820 survivors of the camps or former inhabitants of the surrounding region gathered in the town. Their number gradually declined as a result of emigration to Israel and other countries. In 1971 about 200 Jews remained in Targu-Mures. There was still limited community life but no rabbi. In the beginning of the 21st century the remnants of the Targu-Mures Jewish community inaugurated a splendid monument consecrated to the memory of those who disappeared in the Holocaust.
M. Berner, Oh, kiválasztott népem (1947).
[Yehouda Marton /
Paul Schveiger (2nd ed.)]