The Arty Semite

Romania's Franz Josef Synagogue To Be Restored

By Samuel D. Gruber

  • Print
  • Share Share

Crossposted from Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art & Monuments

Jacob W. Gruber

My sister Ruth Ellen Gruber recently reported on her Jewish Heritage Travel blog that our ancestral synagogue in Radauti, Romania is under restoration. The process appears to be proceeding quickly — a rare occurrence in Romania, where the Jewish community is overwhelmed with care for so many sites and is always strapped for funds.

I have a special fondness for the Franz Josef Synagogue, named in memory of the Austrian emperor especially beloved by Bukovina Jews. Not only is it the site of my grandfather’s bar mitzvah, but it is one of the first “historic” (by which I mean pre-modern) synagogues I ever visited. I was there with my parents on a trip to Romania in 1972. I was a skinny teenager with longish hair, but taller than any remaining Jew we met in the town. I remember well how one of the men who showed us the synagogue was amazed by my hair.

When told I was a great-grandson of Anschel Gruber, he expressed skepticism (in part because of my hair), and said: “Well, Anshel Gruber was a very pious Jew, if you are his grandson, than read…” and he opened a siddur and stuck it in front of my face. Fortunately, my junior congregation and bar mitzvah Hebrew was good enough, and I passed the test.

The next time I came to the synagogue was in the bitterly cold winter of 1978, in the company of Ruth, then UPI bureau chief in Belgrade, and Romania’s chief rabbi, Moses Rosen. Ruth and I accompanied the rabbi on his annual whirlwind Hanukkah pilgrimage to the Jewish communities of Romania. This time the old synagogue was filled with people, brilliantly lit, and filled with song from the children’s choir that accompanied Rosen’s roadshow. Since then much has changed in Romania — for its diminished Jewish community and for the entire country. But the synagogue still stands and is finally receiving a new lease on life. It is one of the few surviving synagogues in the country still deemed “operating,” and by all accounts it will remain dedicated as a synagogue. How often and when it will be used is uncertain, for there are few Jews left in the area.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Samuel Gruber's Jewish Art and Monuments, Samuel D. Gruber, Ruth Gruber, Romania, Moses Rosen, Anschel Gruber, Franz Josef Synagogue

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.