09 December 2009

Romania: Jewish Museum genealogy resources

There is a Jewish museum in Bucharest, detailed as part of a website devoted to the country's past and present Jewish life.

If your research includes this once-large Jewish presence in many population centers, Tracing the Tribe highly recommends this website. The museum section of the site details the displays of community history and how it preserves the past. Read below for more details of the exhibits.

According to the site, it is sponsored by B'nai B'rith International (Washington DC), The Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania, Embassy of Romania (Washington DC) and the US Agency for International Development.

Genealogical Treasures

Genealogically, the website and the museum are useful for those searching for details about Romanian Jewish families. Numerous names of individuals and families appear in every section. As one example, in the section on Jewish financiers, viewers can read about the families of Bercovitz, Manoah, Halfon, Daniel, Marmorosh and Blank.

The history details the country's political and geographical history through the Holocaust and today's community. The sections - each contain many names - are literature (Romanian, Yiddish), science, press, music, Judaica (silversmiths, objects, architecture, textiles and gold/silver embroidery), fine art, theater (posters, costumes, photos), religious life (personalities, institutions, buildings, synagogue models).

The Community Archive offers Micro-monographies (also accessible through the Jewish Reality section), providing numerous detailed articles on Romanian communities, with history, names and more; and Genealogy research (currently under construction and looking for donors).
There is - click here for the Romanian-only collection - a list of Jewish entrepreneurs in Moldavia (register of documents for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the National Archives, Iasi county division, 1879-1950). See below.

Also, only in Romanian, is the list of Jews in Romania's first university 1860-1950. See below.
There is also a Family Roots section with information on surnames taken from various records, including Holocaust records held at the USHMM in Washington, DC.

For an interesting overview of what you might discover, choose letter C and click on Cohn for a long list of individuals from various record groups. Be aware that data for each person varies:

Choose ACTION (far right column), and see all the information for a person (address, job, marital status and more), and click at the bottom to see other family members. When we click on Moise Cohn (second in the list above) we see:

And, when we "click here to view all family members," we see:

The Romanian community included both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, who arrived in the 16th century. By 1715, there was a synagogue and by the 20th century, synagogues and ritual baths were common. When the Nazis came to power, the community was decimated, many Jewish buildings and institutions were destroyed.

The museum - established on January 15, 1978 - is located in one of the few surviving synagogue buildings. Built in 1850, the building was the Holy Union synagogue, known also as the Tailors' Synagogue, on Mamulari Street in the Vacaresti neighborhood.

Originally called the Museum of Romanian Jewish communities, today it is the Museum of Romanian Jewish History, named for the prominent Chief Rabbi Dr. Moses Rosen, who served from 1948-1994. He founded the magazine Revista Cultului Mozaic (Mosaic Cult Magazine) in 1956, served as leader of the Federation of Jewish Communities from 1964, and a documentation center on the history of the Romanian Jews was established in 1977.

Rosen's activities were meant to counter the trend of forcing the remaining Jews to forget their ethnic and religious identity and disappear as an ethnic group. The museum demonstrated the creative Jewish presence in every sector of Romanian culture and society.

In its current form, the museum offers a systematic outline of Jewish history in Romanian lands.

Thousands of exhibits reflect the communal, cultural life of the Jews; their economic, social, and political integration with Romanian society; their scientific, literary, and artistic creations-indicating a rich multi-centennial Jewish activity within the circumstances of Romanian history.
The ground floor traces the political, cultural, and eco­nomic evolution of Romanian Jewry from the 14th-20th centuries, along with information on historical roots to ancient Judea and the Roman conquest in the 1st century CE.
A replica of a bas relief from Emperor Titus' triumphal arch in Rome shows how the Romans chased the Jews from Judea leading to their dispersion around the world, mainly into Europe. A number of archeological findings prove that the wandering sons of Israel, particularly those who served in the Roman troops, occasionally arrived as far as the territory of Roman Dacia.
Medieval Sephardic Jewish world traveler, Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, wrote that he found Jews among the Wlachs, south of the Danube River, and the community was on the map.

Sections of the site include the museum exhibits on Jewish history in Romania, 14th-19th centuries, Jewish life in the early 20th century and contributions to culture and science. Included are maps, portraits, documents, edicts, and economic life.

There are models of old synagogues from the three Danube-Carpathian principali­ties. They include the 500-year-old timber synagogue in Piatra Neamt, the fortress-synagogue in Iasi cited in late 17th-century chronicles, the Sephardic synagogue in Bucharest, and more.

Sections of the website include: Jewish Heritage Trail (a map of community locations), Jewish history chronology, Bucharest's Jewish community, the Tailor's Synagogue history, sections on community leaders, rabbis and the work of community institutions, such as the Federation.

This site is well worth a look for readers looking for information on the Romanian Jewish community, past and present.


  1. ivanstoler9:20 AM

    I visited the Jewish Museum in Bucharest in June 07. Please be advised that the guard in front will ask for your id, a passport NOT your drivers license. It took us 10 minutes of pleading and debating for him to let us in. Once in, you'll notice on the upper walls, the "shields" or logos of the Jewish guilds, There I found the guild for the Stoleru, the carpenters. My Zeyde was a joiner/cabinet maker from Bessarabia. Seeing my name up there gave me goose bumps. So much so that I coudn't bring myself to photograph. Ivan Stoler aka Carpenter

  2. Thank you for the information. Here is a site that has newly posted Holocaust Records. They are from NARA but are now indexed and online. They are free for the next couple of days.