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!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • 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.