Srul Rayes with his youngest son, Moineşti, ca. 1900. (YIVO)

Find more information about

at the Center for Jewish History:

NOTE: you will be redirected
to the Web site for the


Town in the Moldavian region of Romania, in the county of Bacău. Located in an area of petroleum exploitation, Moineşti experienced Jewish settlement in the second half of the eighteenth century: one tombstone from the Jewish cemetery dates from 1748, another from 1787. In 1820, Moineşti was home to 42 Jewish taxpayers; by 1831, there were 93 Jews in the town; and in 1899, a total of 2,398 Jews represented 50.6 percent of the population. Later, this number diminished: in 1910, it had fallen to 2,141; in 1930 to 1,761; and in 1941 to 1,325. Jews were employed in crafts, local commerce, and the petroleum industry. Many were Hasidim, followers of Yitsḥak Friedman of Buhuşi or of Hersh Tsevi Landman of Bacău.

Shops on the town's main street, Constantinescu Street, Moineşti, Romania, ca. 1890s. (YIVO)

The Jewish community of Moineşti was organized in 1885 according to modern conventions. A Jewish boys’ school was founded in 1893 and a girls’ school in 1900, functioning with the aid of the Jewish Colonization Association. Five synagogues were functioning in 1940. The town’s rabbis included Avraham Aryeh-Leib Rosen (1870–1951; in Moineşti: 1903–1916), author of the sermon collection Sha’agat Aryeh (1905) and the responsa ‘Etan Aryeh (1976); Yosef Aryeh Cohen (who emigrated to Palestine in 1863); Yehoshu’a Falk Wolfsohn (1835–?); Gedalyah Westler (in Moineşti 1873–1904); and Shemu’el Grinberg (1879–1959) lived there as well. Other Jewish natives included Tristan Tzara, founder of Dada; the Romanian-language writers Alexandru Sever, B. (Braunstein) Elvin, Avraham Clain (biblical translator from Hebrew to Romanian verse), Burăh Zeilig (translator from Yiddish to Romanian); the legal scholar Charles Gruber; Romania’s chief rabbi, Mozes Rosen; and the petroleum industrialist Iosif Theiller.

In 1875, a group of 50 Jewish families planned to immigrate from Moineşti to Palestine, and founded the association Yishuv Erets Yisra’el ‘al Yede ‘Avodat Adamah. After their leader, Mosheh David Iancovici (Shub), purchased land, 22 families emigrated in August 1882 and founded the colony of Rosh Pinah, marking the start of the First Aliyah. Moineşti became legendary and was mentioned in a Yiddish proverb: Durkh Moineshti keyn Erets Yisroel (Through Moineşti to the Land of Israel).

After Jews were granted emancipation rights in 1919, some Jewish members of Romanian political parties became active in public life. In 1934, four Jews served as members of the municipal council.

On 15 July 1941, the Jews of Moineşti were deported to Bacău. Many were housed in synagogues and Jewish schools, and some were taken into forced labor in the village of Pârlița, Bessarabia. After World War II, only 80 Jewish families returned to Moineşti to reestablish the community, resulting in a Jewish population of 480 in 1947. These numbers diminished due to emigration, mainly to Israel. In 1950, there were 400 Jews; in 1969, only 15 Jewish families lived there. In 2005, only 5 Jews remained.

Suggested Reading

Theodor Lavi, “Moinesht (Moineşti),” in Pinkas ha-kehilot: Romanyah, vol. 1, pp. 177–179 (Jerusalem, 1969); Moses Rosen, Dangers, Tests and Miracles (London, 1990); Solomon Şapira, O legendă vie: Moineşti (Jerusalem, 1989); Moshe David Shub, Zikhronot le-vet David (1937; rpt., Jerusalem, 1972/73).