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Town in northern Romania, on the Someşul Mare River, 24 km north-northwest of the city of Bistrița. The first documented reference to Năsăud (Ger., Nussdorf; Hun., Naszód) dates to 1264. In 1762, imperial authorities turned this small market town into the center for a regiment of frontier guards; it remained as such until 1851.

Empress Maria Theresa forbade Jewish settlement in militarized border areas of Transylvania in 1753. In 1804, Jews were allowed to pass through Năsăud in transit for no longer than 12 hours. Despite these restrictions, in the second half of the eighteenth century it was common practice to lease mills, breweries, and liquor distilleries in the area around the town to Jewish entrepreneurs. During the famine of 1817, frontier guards were supplied with cereals by a Jewish man named Barukh, and in 1831–1833 the presence of Jewish publicans was documented. Jews gradually settled in a neighboring village, Entradam or Jidovița (today a part of Năsăud), where a community influenced by Hasidism grew up; it contained some 35 to 40 families in 1837–1838, most of whom had arrived from the region of Maramureş. By that point, Năsăud had a wooden synagogue and its own ritual slaughterer (shoḥet).

After the removal of the frontier guard regiment and the abolition of settlement restrictions, the number of Jews in Năsăud increased from 243 people in 1857 to 859 in 1866. A conference of delegations of Jewish communities from Transylvania, held in Cluj (1866), planned to locate one of eight designated district schools in Năsăud. After the civil emancipation (1867) and the schism in the General Jewish Congress of Hungary of 1868–1869, the community of Năsăud, led then by rabbis Gedalyah Gewürz and Menaḥem L. Löw, declared itself Orthodox, with its own synagogue and religious school.

In the interwar period, the number of Jews remained constant, ranging between 425 in 1930 (representing 12.1% of the total population) and 415 in 1940 (12.9%). Among the 60 Jewish families in 1938 were several traders and craft workers, as well as one lawyer. Năsăud’s rabbi was Ḥayim Freund, and its representative for the Zionist movement was David Moskovits. The novelist, translator, and publisher Ádám Raffi (1898–1961) was also born in Năsăud.

In 1940, Năsăud was included in the section of northern Transylvania transferred by Romania to Hungary. In April 1941, the Jewish community’s population was 451; its president was the tradesman Adolf Siegelstein and its rabbi was Mozes Freund. The community had its own synagogue, a ritual bathhouse, a home for the elderly, and two employees. In May 1944, after Hungary was occupied by German troops, Jews were confined in ghettos and then deported to Auschwitz. A provincial ghetto was set up in Năsăud; Jews were later moved to the central ghetto in Bistrița, and then were deported on 2 and 6 June 1944. The community was reestablished after 1945 by approximately 110 survivors, but as a consequence of emigration over the following decades, in 1971 there were only two Jewish families living in Năsăud. Today the ruins of the synagogue stand proof of a community that has vanished.

Suggested Reading

Ladislau Gyémánt, The Jews of Transylvania in the Age of Emancipation (1790–1867) (Bucharest, 2000), pp. 236, 302, 343–346; József Schweitzer and Kinga Frojimovics, eds., Magyarországi zsidó hitközségek: 1944, április; A Magyar Zsidók Központi Tanácsának összeírása a német hatóságok rendelkezése nyomán (Budapest, 1994), vol. 1, pt. B, pp. 476–477; Imre Szabó, Erdély zsidói (Cluj, 1938), pp. 210–212.



Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea