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December 3, 2021

First Rabbi Rafael Shaffer, at re-inauguration of Great Synagogue: Iasi enjoys fruits of tolerance of its ancestors

More than 100 people took part on Monday evening in the re-inauguration ceremony of the oldest Mosaic worship center in Romania, the Great Synagogue in Iasi, a historical monument built in the 17th century.

The event was preceded by the unveiling of a memorial plaque that was placed at the entrance to the Synagogue. At the reinauguration festivities of the Great Synagogue in Iasi were also present representatives of local authorities, cultural and academic institutions, representatives of the Jewish community, Teofan, the Metropolitan Bishop of Moldavia and Bucovina, and Petru Gherghel, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Iasi.

On this occasion, President of the Jewish Community of Iasi, Abraham Ghiltman, told AGERPRES that evening the Jews community in the municipality celebrated three holidays.

“Firstly, the Centennial, to which the Jewish community in Iasi and Jewish communities in the country contributed. Also today we are celebrating Hanukkah, which means reinauguration or the celebration of lights. At the same time, we reinaugurate the Great Synagogue in Iasi. It is in fact the Great Synagogue from Targu Cucului. I say this because there were three large synagogues in Iasi, one in each neighborhood – Podu Ros, Targu Cucului and Pacurari. This event is special because it is the first synagogue built in Iasi and the first synagogue on the territory of Romania,” said Abraham Ghiltman.

“The synagogue is the oldest in Romania, since around 1670. The next synagogue in Romania was built after 1800, so a difference of 150 years. In 1670, when the word ?tolerance’ was not yet common, the town of Iasi was the first to allow the Jewish community to build a stone synagogue. Until then all the synagogues were made of wood. Now Iasi enjoys the fruits of the tolerance of its ancestors,” First Rabbi Rafael Shaffer told journalists.

“It has been over 70 years since the Jewish population was unjustly punished for things they had never done. Today we have managed to reopen a beautiful page in the history of this community by reconsecrating and reinaugurating the oldest and most beautiful synagogue in the country. (…) Iasi can be the home of all ethnicities, of all those who believe in friendship, peace, understanding, tolerance and, why not, a tourist attraction that we hope to attract as many visitors as possible, especially from abroad,” said the Mayor of Iasi Mihai Chirica.

“The synagogue is extraordinary, it is impressive especially in the manner in which it was thought. This simplicity of white, with the superb altar, the extraordinary chandeliers give you a feeling and an atmosphere rarely found in Romania,” said Romania’s Consul General in New York, Catalin Dancu.

The Great Synagogue in Iasi was built between 1657 and 1671, being the oldest building of Mosaic religion on the territory of Romania. The place of worship was included in the list of historical monuments in Iasi County. According to historians, on the current place of the edifice there was a synagogue built in 1582, which allegedly was completely destroyed when the existing one was built. The Great Synagogue has stone and brick walls with a thickness of one meter and its height is 22 meters.

The synagogue has influences of the similar Mosaic worship buildings in Bohemia, Poland and Russia.


President Iohannis : Great Synagogue of Iasi becomes again a landmark of spiritual, cultural life of Iasi


President Klaus Iohannis on Monday sent a message occasioned by the reopening of the Great Synagogue of Iasi and the lighting of the second candle on Hanukkah.

“On the reopening of the Great Synagogue of Iasi, I want to send my warm greetings and congratulate you on the Synagogue becoming again, through the city officials’ and believers’ efforts, a living sanctuary of worship, a landmark of the spiritual and cultural life of the city. The reopening is symbolically carried out at the start of Hanukkah, called the feast of ?inauguration’ and ?light’ in the Jewish tradition. May the celebration dedicated to the Great Synagogue and the Jewish community of Iasi strengthen you in faith and carry on the light of hope in a better future, under the sign of peace and solidarity,” President Iohannis said in a message delivered by presidential adviser Sergiu Nistor.

Iohannis underscored in his message that the Great Synagogue has a history that intermingle with that of Iasi and the Jewish community, which was “a sacred temple and refuge in difficult times.”

“The reopening of the oldest Judaic worship centre in Romania represents, in the year when we celebrate together the Greater Union Centennial, a gesture of respect for the memory of those who sacrificed for faith and freedom. It is also a tribute to the Jewish figures who supported the Union of 1918 at international level, thus, contributing substantially to the modernisation and progress of Romania, proving their loyalty to the country and their belief in its historic destiny, ” Iohannis said.

He added that he is pleased that the Federation of Romania’s Jewish Communities constantly supports the restoration of and capitalisation on the synagogues of Romania.

“They give a beautiful expression to the values that I also support and defend, together with you: knowledge, dialogue and tolerance. ‘Hag Hanukkah Sameah!”

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