Roman, Romania Jewish history

Simon & Smil-Lieb Ghertner’s birthplace was Roman, Romania. Other spellings for the country are Roumania (French) and Rumania.

You can see more at JewishGen The History of the Jewish community of Roman.

From this source Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Romania, I found information about Roman, Romania I found much unpleasant information about Jewish people in the town from the time Jews first settled in Roman. See also excerpted Population of Roman, Romania.

The Beginning and Evolution of the Jewish Settlement

“Roman was founded at the end of the 14th century on the ruins of a Roman fort built by Claudius Caesar”

“A document from the time of Prince Mihai Racovita from 1709 stated the sums that Christian, the Armenian, and Jewish merchants had to pay and ratified the church’s right to collect taxes from the Jews.” “…but the oldest tombstone in the Jewish cemetery was from 1746.”

During the 1800, the local church persecuted the Jews in Roman. In 1867 the Jewish cemetery was defaced and destroyed and the bones were thrown out and crosses were “painted on Rabbi’s tombstones”. “The bones were collected and together with the old tombstones transferred to the new cemetery.”

All town residents suffered economic persecution around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20the century. Many Jews left and the Jewish population declined by almost one third. (This is the time frame when Simon Ghertner emigrated to the United States.)


“The Jewish kehillah had 16 prayer houses. The main one was the “big synagogue” that was also called, ‘The Tailor’s Synagogue’ which according to tradition was built in the 15th century.” The church “demanded that it be destroyed on the pretext that it is too close to the Christian institutions. The council refused, since it was built with a permit from the prince and did not allow fencing it until 1852.”


The Rabbi when Simon Ghertner was born and emigrated to North America was “Rabbi David Isakson.. “who served for 68 years (1839-1907) was the nephew of Rabbi Meir from Framishlian. ”

Between the Two World Wars and Persecution of Jews

“In 1917, there was in Roman a large concentration of Russian soldiers and in the days of the first Russian revolution, in March 1917, it influenced those soldiers. On May first of that year, the soldiers organized a demonstration for the International Workers Day. Among the slogans that had an influence was a protest against the murder of the Jewish socialist leader from Iasi, Max Wechsler, who was killed by the Romanian police. Many Jews joined the demonstrations and one of them gave a speech demanding equal rights for Romanian Jews. As a result, an atmosphere of ani-Semitism prevailed and events deteriorated almost to a pogrom.”

“The Zionist movement was very active between the wars. The local Zionist Organization branch published a bi-weekly newspaper.”

“In 1920 the dean of the lawyers union refused to accept Jewish members” but the ‘appeals court in Iasi ruled” such that the dean was forced to accept Jews.

“The local Bishop, Lucian Triteanu, was one of the most famous anti-Semites in the country and openly supported the anti-Semitic movement”

“In 1933, Cuza prevented the erecting of a memorial to a Jewish physician, who sacrificed his life while saving a Christian worker who had fallen into an oil well.”

During the Holocaust

‘During Antonescu’s and the “Iron Guard” rule (September 1940-January 1941), events in Roman were calm because of special circumstances. The local “Iron Guard” commander was appointed to be a commissar for the Romanization of Bertold Rorlich’s and his brother Leon’s plants. Rorlich was the Jewish kehillah’s chairman. The two brothers supported the commissar with money and achieved their influence. That influence played a crucial role when the “Iron Guard” riots broke out in Bucharest in January 1941. That led to a pogrom in Bucharest, but not in Roman. There, the commander ordered the head of the district to keep the peace. In that way the Jews of Roman did not suffer during those stormy days.’

‘On September 16, 1942, the authorities stopped giving bread coupons to Jews. On November 30, 1942, they were not allowed to be on the streets except for two hours a day, before noon. The Jewish kehillah’s leaders succeeded to cancel the decree after one month.’

The Roman, Romania history page has no Holocaust information following 1942 and the Jewish population of the town fell from 6,485 in 1942 to 1,900 in 1947. However, Jews and other refugees in Roman were subject to forced labor during World War II.


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