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Tirgu Neamt

TIRGU NEAMT

TIRGU NEAMT (Rom. Târgu-Neamţ ), town in Moldavia, Romania. According to local tradition, Jews were authorized to settle by the sovereign Stephen the Great, who ruled from 1457 to 1502. Later, the king (Peter the Lame) issued a decree expelling Jews from the country (1579). Jews returned to Tirgu Neamt in the 17th century. The oldest tombstones date from 1677 and 1689; there were three cemeteries, the last founded in 1838.

In 1859 the Jewish population was 3,006 and in 1899 it reached 3,671 (42% of the total). The oldest synagogue and the mikveh were demolished in 1849 by order of the abbot of a nearby monastery. The Jews opposed the order by force and six of them fell during the incidents. The Jewish community then sent a delegation to Constantinople, and obtained an order from the vizir compelling the monastery to pay damages. In 1855–56 the community received from the monastery land, money, and bricks to rebuild the synagogue and the mikveh. Among the rabbis who officiated in Tirgu Neamt, most prominent is R. Ḥayyim Mordecai Roller, rabbi between 1895 and 1941. He died in Jerusalem in 1946. Besides the talmud torah, a Jewish primary school was founded in 1890 but it was closed down in 1893 because of opposition from the religious circles, supported by the ḥasidic rabbi of *Buhusi. The school was reopened in 1897.

Anti-Jewish feelings in Tirgu Neamt were encouraged by the monks of the local monastery. In 1710 there was a *blood libel, which resulted in the death of five Jews and the pillaging of many Jewish houses. Additional blood libels were instigated in 1765, 1806, 1816, 1836, and 1859. In 1803 the monastery printed pamphlets propagating anti-Jewish agitation. In 1821 Romanian Greeks, in rebellion against Turkish rule, crossed Moldavia, set fire to the town, and assassinated half the Jewish population.

Between the two world wars, after naturalization rights were granted to the Jews, two Jewish representatives served on the local council. In 1931 a Jew acted as vice mayor. On the eve of World War ii the community supported eight prayerhouses, an old-age home, a mikveh, and premises for a school.

In World War ii the Jews were expelled to *Piatra-Neamt. After the war the community gradually came to an end through emigration. The Jewish population numbered 2,900 in 1947, 1,800 in 1950, and about 50 families in 1969. Shalom Dramer was the community's rabbi in 1954. There was one synagogue.

bibliography:

J. Kaufmann, in: Fraternitatea, 7 (1885), 47–48, 54–55, 62–64, 70–71, 78–80, 94–95, 111, 118–9, 158–9; M. Schwarzfeld, Ochire asupra istoriei evreilor în România (1887), 14, 42; V. Tufescu, Târguşoarele din Moldava şi importanţa lor economicaˇ (1942), 92, 118–9; pk Romanyah, 127–9.

[Theodor Lavi]

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