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(formerly Ploeşti), administrative and economic center in Romania, situated 60 kilometers north of Bucharest. The economic importance of Ploieşti resulted mainly from oil extraction and refining. Ploieşti experienced significant growth in the last decades of the nineteenth century, when oil began to be exploited in a systematic manner.

Although the presence of Jews in Ploieşti is noted from the seventeenth century, an established community can be documented only from 1700, when Sephardic Jews established a synagogue and cemetery. In 1831 there were 280 tax-paying Jews in Ploieşti; rising to 2,478 in 1899; 3,843 in 1930; and 10,000 in 1940.

In 1780, Ashkenazic Jews erected a modest establishment referred to as the “old synagogue” or the “rabbi’s synagogue.” In 1794–1795 they built a larger structure, but it decayed and was demolished in 1842. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, administrative authorities took measures to remove Jews from the center of the city; the synagogue was consequently torn down and moved to a neighboring village. As the Jewish community developed and its economic power increased due to the oil industry, a large modern Ashkenazic synagogue, designed by Israel Goligher, was constructed in 1911. The vast structure included an organ brought from Vienna. Sephardic Jews had also built a modern synagogue that opened formally in 1899. Unusually, Sephardim and Ashkenazim served alternately as heads of a united community.

Ploieşti was also home to a strong and diversified system of Jewish education. The most important school was the Luca Moise School for boys, established in 1873 according to the wishes expressed in the will of a local merchant. The Israelite school for girls was set up in 1890, and a secondary school was established in 1908—among the first Jewish upper-level ones in Romania. At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, a strong Jewish elite developed in town, consisting mainly of businessmen involved in extracting oil (notably Max I. Schapira, M. Predinger, and A. D. Rosen).

On 27 November1940, during the rule of the Iron Guard, 11 Jews were arrested and executed, including the Hasidic rebbe, David Friedman. Later under the Antonescu regime, persecution of the Jews in Ploieşti grew even more brutal, in large part due to the town’s strategic location near areas of oil extraction. On 13 July 1941, all Jewish men aged 18 to 60 were arrested and deported to the concentration camp of Teiş. They were released six months later, but were forbidden to return to Ploieşti; some were sent instead to concentration camps in Transnistria. In 1950 just 2,000 Jews lived in the town, and the census of 2000 counted only 124, two-thirds of whom were over the age of 65.

Suggested Reading

Te’odor Lavi’ (Theodor Lavi), “Ployeshst (Ploieşti),” in Pinkas ha-kehilot: Romanyah, vol. 1, pp. 218–224 (Jerusalem, 1969); A. D. Rosen, Istoricul comunității evreieşti din Ploieşti (Ploieşti, Rom., 1906); Liviu Rotman, Şcoala israelito-română, 1851–1914 (Bucharest, 1999).



Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea