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The Artifacts Collection

Artifacts in the Synagogue

Torah Arks

Restored Torah Ark from a Synagogue in Rădăuti, Romania

Restored Torah Ark from a Synagogue in Rădăuti, RomaniaRestored Torah Ark from a Synagogue in Rădăuti, Romania

The Torah Ark façade from Rădăuti came to Yad Vashem dismantled, in four main pieces: a base, two sections with doors and a section enclosing an arched space. Above these is a decorative panel consisting of a pair of griffins holding a Star of David between them. Above that stands a crowned two-headed eagle. On either side of one of the central sections are fragments of wing elements carved with lions emerging from foliage. 

At the time of restoration work no archival photographs were available of the Torah Ark, so it was restored according to the judgment of the curatorial staff of the Artifacts Collection. When the Ark was included in the display of the new Synagogue in Yad Vashem, a decision was made to do without one section because of the limited height of the display area. Only recently was a photograph found that shows the Torah Ark before it was dismantled.

The Jewish community of Rădăuti swelled at the beginning of the nineteenth century under Austrian rule. At this time most of the Jews in Rădăuti were engaged in the lumber business or traded in livestock. By the end of the nineteenth century most branches of trade in Rădăuti were in Jewish hands, including the lumber and leather trades. A number of flourmills were in Jewish hands and Jews were also prominent in the professions. On the eve of the Second World War there were twenty-three synagogues and Hassidic prayer houses in Rădăuti.

Towards the end of the 1930s, persecution of the Jews in Rădăuti intensified and many were forced to flee. When large parts of Romania were annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940 the situation for the Jews deteriorated, and later when the Iron Guard came to power it worsened steadily, culminating in an organized pogrom that was carried out in the city in January 1941.

In June of the same year, upon the launching of “Operation Barbarossa” the final chapter of the Jewish community in Rădăuti began, with the setting up of a ghetto. Ten thousand Rădăuti Jews and many Jews from the surrounding communities were rounded up and deported to Transnistria in October. Only 1500 Jews returned to Rădăuti at the end of the war and after waves of emigration in the 1950s, only 800 Jews and 3 synagogues remained.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Donated by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania, Bucharest

Additional artifacts in the synagogue