The Artifacts Collection
Artifacts in the Synagogue
Torah Ark from the Apple Merchants’ Synagogue, Iaşi, Romania
The Apple Merchants’ Synagogue (Merarilor Synagogue/ Merarskeshul), whose restored Torah Ark is displayed in the Yad Vashem Synagogue, is an example of a craftsmen’s association synagogue, of which there were many in Iaşi before the war.
Essentially a residential building, it became a synagogue in 1866 when it was purchased for a sum of 400 gold coins. Still standing at 17 Labyrinth St. (today 13 Elena Doama St.), the building is abandoned and in poor condition, remaining even today much as it was left after the pogrom of the 29th of June, 1941 when Romanian and German soldiers murdered some 10,000 Jews in Iaşi.
From the mid-sixteenth century until the mid-nineteenth century Iaşi was under Ottoman rule. In this period Jewish settlement developed rapidly with commercial and political ties developing between Jewish merchants and bankers of Constantinople (Istanbul) and the Jewish merchants of Iaşi. In fact, most of the craftsmen in Iaşi up to the beginning of the twentieth century were Jews who established their own associations, each founding its own synagogue. Ultimately, the prominence of the Jewish craftsmen in the economic life of the city contributed to perpetual friction and intensified the anti-Semitism that had been present since the establishment of Jewish settlement in Iaşi in the 16th century, culminating in the terrible events of the Holocaust.
Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Donated by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania, Bucharest
“The Ten Spheres” of Kabbalah – A Carved Decoration from a Prayer Lectern from the Zisu Herman Synagogue, Iaşi, Romania
Displayed in the Yad Vashem Synagogue is an elaborately carved fragment decorated with a depiction of the “Ten Spheres”of Kabbalah carved as flowers surrounding the name of God. After the fragment was displayed in Yad Vashem, photographs of the interior of a synagogue in Iaşi were discovered that enabled identification of the fragment as part of a decorated prayer lecternfrom the Zisu Herman Synagogue in Iaşi. The Torah Ark of this synagogue is also preserved at Yad Vashem.
The Zisu Herman Synagogue stood at 6 or 10 Labyrinth St. (today Otilia Cazimir – Zlataust St.) until 1979 when the area underwent reconstruction and the building was demolished. Synagogue furnishings were removed and stored by the Jewish community, and some of these are preserved at Yad Vashem.