Discover the fascinating and complex story of the Romanian Jews on our Jewish Bucharest tour. Visit the magnificent Moorish-style synagogue of Bucharest, the Choral Temple (1857). Explore the Jewish Museum of Bucharest, the Jewish cemetery, the Bucharest Holocaust Museum and the local Jewish Community Center. Our Jewish Bucharest tour gives you the background information you need for a meaningful and enjoyable experience of the Romanian capital, also including Bucharest highlights of general interest.
Hear stories of the famous “Junk Market” in Vacaresti, the 19th century Jewish quarter. Learn of the Jewish tea houses of bygone days, where religious songs were played on gramophones. Attend a play at the world-famous Jewish State Theater of Bucharest, and discover that the spirit of Jewish Bucharest lives on. If you are especially interested in architecture, let us know, and we will look at buildings designed by Jewish architects, including traditionalists like Hermann Clejann, Leon Silion or modernists like Marcel Iancu, Jean Monda, Harry Stern or Marcel Lorcar.
Wide, tree-lined boulevards, Belle Époque buildings, fashionable parks and its own Arc de Triomphe – Bucharest, capital of Romania, is situated on the Damboviţa River, a tributary of the Danube. Relatively unscathed by the war, the city boasts many impressive buildings. The Romanian Athenaeum, home of the Philharmonic Orchestra, is absolutely stunning with its high dome, Doric marble columns and ceiling decorated in gold leaf.
Jewish merchants traveled the commercial roads through Bucharest as early as the 1400s. Sephardic Jews arrived in the 16th century. With the Cossack uprising in the 17th century, Ashkenazi refugees arrived. Unlike in much of Europe, Jews in Romania were allowed to buy houses and therefore settled throughout the city. During the 1848 Revolution and the Romanian War of Independence in 1877–78, many Jewish intellectuals and craftspeople fought for the rights of all Romanians. By the early 20th century there was a Jewish population of 70,000 served by 70 temples and synagogues. Only a few survived fascism and communism. Elie Wiesel (born in Sighet, Romania) is perhaps the most prominent Romanian Jewish survivor.
Bucharest has a complex WWII history. In 1941 Romania joined Nazi Germany in the war against the Soviet Union, and yet a Yiddish theater performed throughout the Nazi period! Jews were not allowed to perform in state theaters, but here a Romanian audience still came to see their favorite actors. An active underground Jewish Council led by Chief Rabbi Alexander Safran worked to prevent mass deportations, in part successfully. During the communist period, Rabbi Moses Rosen led the community for nearly 50 years. Under his influence the Jewish Museum was opened in 1978 in the Holy Union Temple. Today’s bi-weekly Jewish newspaper Jewish Reality speaks to the 4,000 community members in Bucharest.