web analytics
April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Zionism in Jassy: The Importance of History Today

The first meeting of the Romanian Zionist Organization, 1920.

The first meeting of the Romanian Zionist Organization, 1920.
Photo Credit: Yad Vashem Collections

Zionism, a polemical issue, still causes fiery debate amidst Israeli and international politics and is seen by some as a movement, culture and mentality that is no longer viable in the current Israel. Whatever the case may be, how can one understand the viability of an ideology, without first understanding the history of its design?

Jassy might only be a small piece amidst the long and complex battle of Zionism for the Jewish people in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it can help to show how to facilitate the organization of a people surrounded by adversity. In better words the formation of a strong collective- something that not only helped to make Israel a reality, but continues to keep it one today.

Once a great centre of Jewish culture, Jassy seems to have disappeared from the view of Jewish historians, let alone the general public. In fact, few know that it was the place where the famous Naphtali Imber wrote Hatikvah, the poem which gave Israel it’s national anthem. Or the fact that it was once the home of the first Yiddish theatre of Eastern Europe founded by Abraham Goldfaden.

The great bulk of Jassy’s Jews, which at one point amalgamated to 45 thousand, could trace their roots to Poland where thousands of Jews facing persecution at the hands of the Cossacks migrated southward across into Rumania. Although the majority of the population was consisted of Ashkenaz descendents, there were very small remnants of Shepherds that escaped Spain in the 15th century.

The history of Jassy’s Jews is as comprehensive and as complex as most communities that once inhabited Eastern Europe. Yet Rumania, called by Hannah Arendt as the most anti-semitic country prior to the rise of National Socialism in Germany was not very welcoming to its Jewish populations. In fact, Jassy’s Jews although got along with the national and local government, was in constant turmoil with the severely xenophobic Moldavian populations.

It was of no surprise that even before Zionist organization became a viable reality in Europe, and as some sources claim even before Hibbat Zion, Jassy’s Jews began organizing groups based on proto-Zionist ideas. The first among these was Doroshei Zion which sought after the creation of literary framework by building libraries.

The reformation of Jewish and Hebrew culture became the most important goal, as was the trend with most Zionist oriented groups in the 19th century. Perhaps the best example of this being the foundation of the Ohalei Shem foundation in 1878 that had its main goal to educate the Jewish masses in Hebrew and Jewish studies.

This cultural rebirth played an important role in creating a mentality of secularization among Jassy’s Jewish population amidst religious tradition and convention. Something which in itself would become the vanguard goal of Herzelian Zionist groups which sought at the creation not just of a Jewish state, but a Jewish culture devoid of religion..

The most important Zionist organization to have ever existed in Jassy was the Yishuv Eretz Israel founded by Lippe Karpel in 1880 as a responce to the incessant anti-semitism that Romanian Jews faced across the nation. The group helped facilitate the transport of numerous Jews from Romania to Palestine between 1882 to 1890. Although Karpel was opposed to the creation of a Jewish state he still encouraged the formation of Jewish culture in Palestine in order to escape persecution in Europe.

Karpel famously gave the opening speech at The First Zionist Congress in 1897 advocating for the purchase of land in Palestine, but also representing Romanian and Jassy Jewry. Immediately after the congress the Jewish community of Jassy began to be far more organized in the creation of Zionist organizations. About nine of them had formed, until they all conjoined into one in 1919 under the name of the Romanian Zionist Movement. The first meeting took place in 1920 in Jassy.

About the Author: Milad Doroudian is a history student at the University of British Columbia and a writer. He is currently working on a book on the Jassy Pogrom of 1941.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Zionism in Jassy: The Importance of History Today”

  1. Moshe Yassur says:

    This is for Milad Doroudian. I am a survivor of the June 1941 Jassy Pogrom. I was almost seven years old then, now I am almost eighty. I find it interesting that you are working on a book about that terrible history. If you need some information, I would be glad to provide you with some details. I remember the day as though it was yesterday. For the past twenty years I was several times in Jassy. In 2003 I directed two plays for the National Theatre in Jassy. I am well aware of the anti-Semitism in Jassy in the theatre and at the university.

  2. Michael R London says:

    Interesting article. My great grandfather came from Iassy/Jassy then moved to Romania.

    Just a clarification: the sentence "there were very small remnants of Shepherds that escaped Spain in the 15th century" – did you mean to write Sephardim – not shepherds?

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Desperate crowd awaits relief aid at Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.
US: UNRWA Gets Add’l $6M for Yarmouk ‘Palestinians,’ Only $10M for Nepal
Latest Indepth Stories
Those who need care can least afford it: African refugees.

We could establish cities of refuge for the refugees; they’d become citizens of these new places.

The International Criminal Court building in the Hague, the Netherlands.

There is cause to believe the ICC is an improper venue for sorting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

.The real BDS.

Congress described it as “economic warfare against Israel” yet US Jewish leaders proudly finance it!

World Zionist Congress elections end April 30.

Groups promoting anti-Israel/anti-Jewish BDS right on their websites are running in the WZC election

Pataki is the last Republican Governor to win a majority of Jewish votes.

Obama’s desire to be “fair” enables Iran to get nuclear weapons which will threaten global security

All GOP candidates will continue seeking – and praying – for Jewish money with greater success.

The one reason to make Aliyah outweighs all the arguments not to move to Israel.

“We returned to this Land not in order to be murdered, or uprooted. We came here to be replanted!”

I don’t fear for the future of our people because I believe Yeshiva University has created an “Iron Dome” of Jewish leadership

Poland’s great Jewish cities where Jewish life had once flourished and thrived, were now desolate

Chief rabbi, Rav Dovid Lau, stated that the Torah community’s turnout in the WZO election is vital.

Iran has at its core the same ideology as that of ISIS but, inaccurately, is thought a lesser threat

An early Yom Ha’atzmaut gathering for Israel’s 67th birthday with Pres. Rivlin of Israel and guests

Israel’s Memorial Day shouldn’t be a day of mourning, it’s a day to honor, not another Holocaust Day

God’s 3 part promise for Israel: to the Avot; a plentiful land; the eventual return home by all Jews

More Articles from Milad Doroudian
Quenelle in front of an Anne Frank poster.

The “quenelle” has become a form of language, a mechanism by which hatred is not just spread but normalized.

The first meeting of the Romanian Zionist Organization, 1920.

The history of Zionism in Jassy, Romania, amidst persecution and antisemitism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/zionism-in-jassy-the-importance-of-history-today/2014/02/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: