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!
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • 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.