The History of the Jews from Focsani
The beginnings of the Jewish settlements
The contribution of the Jewish community to the development of the town
The Jewish press upon the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century
The disaster of the ship Struma – 02.24. 1942
Foot Wayfarers on their way to America in 1900
Statistical data of the Jewish population over the time
The activity of the jewish Focsani community during world war II
Zionist Youth Movements in Focsani
The beginnings of the Jewish settlements
  The first evidence of Jewish existence in Focsani goes back to the 17th century.

In those years the town’s Rabbi was Rabbi Nathan Neta Hanover. In his book, “IAVAN METZULA” (“Greeks’ Hell”) he describes the unrests and the anti-Jewish interdictions in 1648-1649. Other writings that should be mentioned are the book “SHA’AREY ZION” , (“The Gates of Zionism”) containing poems of religious character, a Hebrew-German-Latin dictionary and other writings, which earned him a reputation.

It is known as well that a Jewish cemetery existed in the Moldavian part of the town.
(Bahne-St), which was closed down by the middle of the 18th century.
In 1797 the Jews had a synagogue. During the uprising of the Greeks against the Turks in 1821, the town was burnt down by the rebels. At the same time anti-Jewish manifestations occurred, with victims. In 1859, the Jewish Community in Focsani had 1855 members. In this period Jewish life continued to develop and became organized.

In 1866 a Jewish school was opened, but after three years it had to be closed down because of the strong opposition of the religious circles. Then an organization called LEV EHAD( "One Heart”) was founded, extending a helpful hand to the aged, the orphans and the poor students. In 1874 the school was re-opened, with 200 students. In 1888 there were already 300 students, and in 1897 the Community opened two schools: one for girls and the other for boys.


The Focsani Synagogue

  The girls’ school was built from the money donated by the banker Wilhelm Schleyer, a citizen of Focsani and a native of Vienna. In 1885 a kindergarten was built upon the initiative and from the donation of Sigismund Gottfried. The professor and author Israel Teller was also active in the town. In 1896 the Great Synagogue is built and next to it – other two smaller temples and a ritual poultry slaughterhouse.

In 1900 Romania suffered from a severe drought following which many Jews of Focsani emigrated to Palestine or America. In the same year the anti-Semitic newspaper
SANTINELA” (“The Sentinel”) was published under the auspices of the big anti-Semite Titza Pavelescu.

In 1910 a boycott was declared in the town against the Jewish merchants. At that time there were about 245 Jewish merchants out of 600. In Focsani another newspaper, “RATIUNEA” (The Reason) was published, its supporters swearing no to buy anything from the “dirty Jews”.

At the same time the town became a center of Zionist activity. In February 1912 Focsani was visited by Nahum Sokolov accompanied by Jaakov Nacht, to attend the functions held in honor of the 30-th Anniversary of the Zionist Congress in Focsani, 1881.
In 1923 the local newspaper "TORŢA" (“The Torch”) appears, publishing for the Jewish population news from the life of the Community, the education of the youth etc.

In March 1925 the process of the leader of the fascist movement, “Garda de Fier” (“The Iron Guard”), Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, was held in Focsani. During this event, anti-Semitic gangs looted 300 Jewish houses and the schools, while the in Great Synagogue the windowpanes were broken and the furniture ruined.

At about the time when World War Two broke out, in the town were 8 synagogues, two elementary schools, a kindergarten, a surgery and a public bath. The earthquake in November 1940 damaged a few synagogues too. The anti-Semitic leaders of the town, under the pretense that those synagogues are a public danger, destroyed them by mechanical means. Another big synagogue that was almost undamaged was set on fire and the municipal firefighters did not interfere. A few Jews (among which the father of Hary Cohn and the father of Jacques Gheber) heroically rescued the Thora books. During the War, there was a Jewish high-school (8 classes) in the town.
Most of the Jews were taken to forced labor. Anti-Semitism reigned in Focsani and all over the country.