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Hundreds of ultra-religious Jews from all over the world at the inauguration of the Sighetul Marmației synagogue. Why the Chief Rabbi of the New York Community Chose to Build It Here

Hundreds of Hasidic Jews came to New York on Thursday, most notably in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

It was the first time that such a plane had landed at Satu Mare airport.

In total, at least 500 Hasidic Jews from around the world will attend the inauguration of the synagogue, with flights continuing to arrive at Satu Mare airport.

The chief rabbi of the Hasidic community of New York, Aaron Teitelbaum, chose to build the synagogue in Romania because his grandfather was born in Sighetu Marmației.

“The new synagogue is basically a Jewish complex whose construction began in 2017, which includes the new synagogue, a restaurant, a Jewish school and a hotel. In the near future, Sighetul will become a pilgrimage site for this community” , said Vasile Moldovan, Mayor of Sighetu Marmației.

The synagogue was built exclusively with funds from the New York Hasidic community.

It is not known exactly how much was spent for for the whole complex.

The Torah alone, the Jewish holy book to be deposited on Friday in the synagogue, was estimated at 360,000 euros.

In the past, the Jewish community of Sighet numbered 30,000 Jews.

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner, was also born in Sighetu Marmatiei.

Notes:

In the hundreds of years the Jewish community existed in Sighet, it kept good relationship with its non-Jews neighbor’s. Children shared the same schools, streets and playgrounds and grown-ups interacted and worked side by side with non-Jews.

This situation began to change in the late 1930s as antisemitic regulations were imposed.

In 1940 northern Transylvania, Sighet included, was annexed to Hungary and even worse decrees were enforced. Among them was the compulsory service in the Labor Battalions which many Jews didn’t survive.

In mid-April 1944, after the Nazi regime took control over Hungary, all Jews were ordered into the ghetto.

During May 16-22, 1944 all detainees were loaded on freight trains and sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz.

Of the 30,000 Jews residing in Sighet before the Holocaust only few thousands survived. Many survivors returned to Sighet and tried to rebuild their community. However, due to the communist regime most Jews immigrated to other countries, and only a handful of Jews remained in Sighet.

The Jewish Cemetery

The Sighet Jewish Cemetery is about 300 years old, however many of the original tombstones are not to be found any more due to weather erosion and the materials the tombstones were made of. Sighet was the capital of Chassidut movement, frequently visited by Jews from all around Europe. Today, many Chassidim are coming to pay homage the “Famous Rabbis Ohel” many feel that writing notes, praying and making a pilgrimage will cure their health conditions, bring a match to single persons and so on.

If you wish to locate a grave please check www.sighet.org

  • Location: Strada Szilagiy Istvan and Strada Izei

The Sephardic Synagogue

The Jewish community of Pre-WW II Sighet had many synagogues and Shtebels (a small synagogue next to a home) with about a dozen large ones, serving the various religious denominations. The main larger synagogues belonged to orthodox and neolog Judaism. Neolog Judaism originated among a segment of Hungarian Jews, who integrated the emancipation decrees. The Conservative Movement evolved from Neolog Judaism Post WW II.

Today the one and only remaining synagogue is the Sephardic Synagogue, also known as the Wijnitzer Klaus Synagogue. It was built in 1902 in an eclectic Moresque style, and was restored in 2004. The synagogue was a Vijnitzer Kloiz, and has nothing to do with the name “Klaus”. There is no daily or holidays Minyan, only when large groups are visiting the city.

  • Location: Str. Basarabia 10

Header: Rabbi Teitelbaum greeting King Carol II of Romania, 1936

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