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      Romania: Jewry Down, Israeli Companies Up

      Romanian Jewry, which numbered over ¾ of a million in 1930, has now dwindled to 3,000. Some say it will soon disappear altogether.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 10/28/2010, 4:36 PM / Last Update: 10/28/2010, 6:24 PM

      Romanian Jewry – which numbered over ¾ of a million in 1930, and was the third-largest Jewish community in Europe, including Russia – has now dwindled to 3,000 people, according to a recent report. Some say it will soon disappear altogether.

      The most obvious sign of the decline is in the number of synagogues. There were 20 synagogues in the capital city, Bucharest, before World War II, and there are now two.

      It is not precisely clear how many Romanian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Common estimates run to around 280,000, but more recent evaluations count no fewer than 420,000. Even more telling, as Raul Hilberg wrote in his work “The Destruction of the European Jews,” no country other than Germany “was involved in massacres of Jews on such a scale.” Many of the victims did not die in German camps; half of the 200,000 Jews in Czernowitz and Iasi were killed in pogroms, as were 120,000 of Transylvania's 150,000 Jews.

      Following World War II, between 322,000 and 428,000 Jews remained in Romania, and they began emigrating in large numbers. From 1948 until 1960, more than 200,000 Romanian Jews went to Israel, reducing the Jewish population in Romania to less than 100,000 by the 1960s. In the 1970's, as well, Romanian emigration to Israel continued steadily. It is common knowledge that Israel paid Romania in cash and other aid for the Aliyah. 

      The Israel Air Force has been training with the Romanian Air Force in Romania since 2004. An IAF helicopter crashed into a mountain there this summer, killing all seven passengers – six Israelis and one Romanian.

      Many Israeli companies have a presence in Romania. Over 20 companies attended the 10th edition of the Romania-Israel Hi-Tech Business Cooperation Forum last year. 

      Romania's Jewish population is today generally estimated at under 10,000, though a recent visitor there reported on Ynet that the number had dwindled to only 3,000. The question of whether one of the objectives of Zionism was to “put an end to the Diaspora” remains an open one – but the case of Romania appears to be a point for that point of view.