Salute to the Romanian Jews in America and Canada, 1850-2010: History, Achievements, and Biographies

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NEW YORK MAGAZINE No. 706, Wednesday, February 2, 2011, Cultural Page 16 University Professor and Doctor Aurel Sasu, HOMAGE TO THE JEWS FROM THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, Commentary regarding the volume SALUTE TO THE ROMANIAN JEWS IN AMERICA AND CANADA, 1850-2010: HISTORY, ACHIEVEMENTS, AND BIOGRAPHIES by Vladimir F. Wertsman

The publication of SALUTE TO THE ROMANIAN JEWS IN AMERICA AND CANADA,1850-2010: HISTORY, ACHIEVEMENTS, AND BIOGRAPHIES, XLibris , Bloomington, IN, 2010, 287 pp. by Vladimir F. Wertsman, one of the most valued, respected and dedicated researchers on multiculturalism over the Ocean, was no surprise to anybody in light of the authors previous triptych: THE ROMANIANS IN AMERICA, 1748-1974: A CHNRONOLOGY AND FACT BOOK(1975), THE ROMANIANS IN AMERICA AND CANADA: A GUIDE TO INFORMTION SOURCES, (1980), and THE ROMANIANS IN THE UNITED STATES ANADA CANADA: A GUIDE TO ANCESTRY AND HERITAGE RESEARCH (2003). All of these titles reflect the authors older concerns regarding immigration, integration, and identity preserved via the values of organic tradition.

Those who know this passionate book lover (he served many years as senior librarian at the New York Public Library) also know how much he is proud of his Romanian education (he is a graduate of the University "A.I. Cuza" Law School, 1953) and the prestige of Romanian people of culture abroad in whose spirit he was formed. Established in the USA in 1967, the future author did not forget the depth of his primary sources and his Romanian heritage. Regardless how often he appears in the Romanian community, he is admired for his work, advice, and wisdom. His main message is friendship, mutual understanding and respect.

The above mentioned volume on Romanian Jews in America and Canada starts with a "microchronology" of Romanias two millennia Jewish community going back to the year 70 AD, when some Jews found asylum in Dacia after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. Under King Decebal, Jews are permitted to reside without any restriction. They were merchants, translators, and purveyors, Matei Basarab offers asylum to Hungarian Jews who refused to convert to Catholicism, under Alexander the Good and Stephen the Great, the Jews are free to live in any part of Moldavia. Also, Stephen the Great and his son Bogdan Voda kept Isaac Benjamin Shor as their logofat (chancellor). In the 16th century, first Sephardic communities are mentioned in Bucharest and Craiova, also Jewish stable communities are mentioned in Iasi (with a synagogue and cemetery), Suceava, Botosani, Sibiu, Cluj. Vasile Lupu (17th century) accepts several Jewish doctors and pharmacists at his court, Constantin Brancoveanu will do the same one century later. In 1665, a document mentions that along with Valachians and Serbs there were Jews in Michael the Braves Army. Constantin Mavrocordat accords fiscal immunity to Jews settled in Herta, Balti, Orhei, Ocna, and Harlau. From DESCRIPTIO MOLDAVIAE (1717) by Dimitrie Cantemir, we find that Jews could build wooden synagogues without any restrictions. Starting with the 18th century, mixed musical bands (lautari) are formed; they consisted of Romanians, Jews, and Gypsies. After the hardships endured by Jews during the Russian-Turkish War (1769-1774), Alexandru Mavrocordat and Nicolae Mavrogheni accord special protection to the Jewish population. In 1803, there were about 3,000 Jewish families in Moldova, fifty years later, the Jewish population increased to more than 130,000. In the Proclamation of Islaz (1848), the rights of the Jewish community are explicitly mentioned: "the emancipation of the Israelites and political rights for all compatriots of other creeds". In 1852, the first Jewish school is opened in Bucharest, and in 1847 appears ISRAELITUL ROMAN, the first newspaper of the Jewish communities from Moldavia and Walachia
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About the author

Romanian born Vladimir F. Wertsman is a well known author of books on various American ethnic groups, including three volumes on Romanians in America and Canada, published in 1975, 1980, and 2005. The current book is a UNIQUE reference source of information on Romanian Jews in USA and Canada, a subject not covered in the previous titles. It focuses on their situation in Romania, immigration, settlement in the New World, group achievements (organizations, synagogues), individual contributions in numerous fields of endeavor (academic, writing, music, theater, film, art, religion, medicine, business, law, sports, and others) as reflected in over 600 bibliographic items and in over 300 biographical sketches. Dozens of archival materials offer, among others, Mihail Eminescu's (Romania's national poet) review of Abraham Goldfaden's Yiddish show in Iasi (1876), description of Romanian Jews in Oregon during 1880s, their "mamaliga" parties and hora dancing, "Rumania, Romania" and other Yiddish songs, plus relevant photographs.This writing celebrates 160 years of Romanian Jewish presence on North American soil, and 140 years of American Romanian diplomatic contacts, started in 1870 by American Consul Benjamin D. Peixotto (former President of B'nai B'rith) and continued by the current US Ambassador Mark Gitenstein, of Romanian Jewish ancestry. Written in a condensed information style, and covering the topics of Romanian Jewish heritage, Judaica, ethnic studies, Holocaust, and genealogy, this book is useful to students and teachers, scholars and laymen, academic, public and special libraries, Jewish religious and lay organizations in the United States and Canada, Romania and Israel, as well as other countries (e.g. France, Germany) with Romanian Jewish communities.

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Xlibris Corporation
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Jul 22, 2010
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