Bucharest
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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier met this week with leaders of Romania’s Jewish community in Bucharest.

Steinmeier’s visit centered on how the community is supporting Ukrainian refugees. He met with community representatives, including Silviu Vexler, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania (FCER), his deputy Ovidiu Banescu, and Romanian Chief Rabbi Rafael Shaffer at Bucharest’s Choral Temple, Romania’s largest synagogue that dates to the 1860s.

The FCER spoke to Steinmeier about how the community is helping with the 600,000 refugees who have fled to Romania during the Russian invasion, Jüdische Allgemeine reported. Out of the refugees, around 14,000 are Jewish.

The community partnered with Jewish aid organizations to run a shelter at the Ukrainians border, with Banescu saying that they have been helping Jewish and non-Jewish refugees.

They also spoke about the community shrinking due to aging members, with Banescu saying that their population has been declining for decades.

“We would be happy if some refugees stayed with us – but for most of them Romania is just a transit country, and they move on to the West after a few days or weeks,” he told the German publication.

He added that most went to Austria, Germany or France.

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