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The organisation of praying places of Jews was made on professional criteria, each synagogue taking the name of a gild. This is what happened to the “Merarilor” Synagogue as well, on Elena Doamna Street, where apple sellers and cultivators from Târgu Cucului came to pray.

In the context of a fast evolution of the Jewish population in the city, many more houses of prayer were needed, simple houses being transformed in synagogues. The “Merarilor” Synagogue, situated in a house with one floor, was inaugurated in 1869, on a small street called Maze, hidden behind some buildings. This has an imposing shape, and the exterior has some stylized Doric pillars. During the communist period it escaped the demolition, but it was used as a storehouse, being masked by a row of white cedar trees, in order not to be seen from the street.

The synagogue was re-inaugurated on the 13th of December 2015 after a great restoration process. On the building’s façade, a commemorative plaque was placed. The Rabbi Rafael Shaffer, the religious leader of the Hebrew community in Romania, placed the mezuzah (a little box put on the door frame, with a small fragment of the Torah), blessed the new house of prayer and read the traditional prayers from a holy Torah scroll, recently restored and donated to the “Merarilor” Synagogue. The modern look of the interior and the light coming in through the large windows create a pleasant and opened space for religious ceremonies or various meetings.

Between the moment of the closing of the Grand Synagogue for restoration in 2008 and the inauguration of the “Merarilor” Synagogue in 2015, a praying place was settled in a room of the residence of the Jewish Community, with religious objects from the Grand Synagogue, Merari Synagogue and Schor Synagogue (in Podu Roș, recently demolished), as well as from the Synagogue of Vaslui. Here was arranged an Aron Kodesh with seven Torah scrolls and a pulpit.

Visiting hours: 09:00-14:00 (Request at the Jewish Community Centre)

Writer Benjamin Fondane

Benjamin Fondane/ Fundoianu (literary pseudonym of Benjamin Wexler) was a poet, essay writer and theatre and film director, an important member of Romanian Avantgarde in the first half of the 20th century. Born in 1898 in Iași, in a family of Jew intellectuals, he begins with translations in Yiddish under the name of B. Fundoianu, after the toponym Fundoaia, his father’s birth place. The only book published in Iași is “Petre’s Denial” in 1918. At only 16 years old he published in the symbolist magazine “New Life” of Ovidiu Densușeanu and founds in Bucharest, along with Armand Pascal, the Avantgarde theatre “The Island”.

In 1923 he emigrates to France, where he takes the name of Fondane. He translates in French lyrics of the renowned Romanian writers Tudor Arghezi, George Bacovia or Ion Minulescu. His poems approach themes of wondering, exile and lost paradise (l’Exode, Ulysses), evoking the childhood spent in Târgu Cucului neighbourhood in Iași. Benjamin was also a script writer of the film Rapt – 1934. Arrested in Paris by the Gestapo after a denouncement, he was initially imprisoned along with his sister Lina in the Drancy camp. A few of his Romanian friends, among who Emil Cioran and Ștefan Lupașcu, managed to obtain his release, but he didn’t accept to abandon his sister. They were both deported at Auschwitz – Birkenau, where they died in tragic conditions. Benjamin was gassed on the 2nd of October 1944, after he had lost track of his sister, Lina. In his memory, the street between the residence of the Jewish Community in Iași and the “Merarilor” Synagogue bears his name.

7. Grande Synagogue    9. Centre Communautaire Juif

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