Iaşi Romania

Other names:  Jassy [Eng, Ger, Pol], Jászvásár [Hun], Iassy [French, Rus],  Pronounced: "Yash" Yiddish: יאס  Located:  47°10' N, 27°36' E

Iasi Panorama
Iasi Romania Map

Iași is the largest city in eastern Romania (2012 population: 318,871) and the seat of Iași County (Judet). Iaşi was the capital of the country of Moldavia (aka Moldova) for almost 300 years (1564 to 1859). When Moldavia merged with Wallachia in 1859 Iasi and Bucharest were defacto capitals for three years. In 1862 the two principalities were recognized as Romania with the national capital in Bucharest. Iasi also served as capital of Romania during World War I from 1916–1918 when Bucharest was occupied by Germany and it's Allies.

The first Jewish settlers arrived in Iasi around  the 15th century. Isaac ben Benjamin Shor, a Jew from Jassy was steward and chancellor to Prince Stephen the Great who ruled Moldavia from 1457 ro 1504. Isaac also served under Bogdan (1504-1517), the son and successor of Stephen. In 1551, the Jew “Emanuel” was nominated by the Turkish sultan to be the ruler of Moldavia, however it is not clear whether he actually ruled. 

At the end of the 16th century, the Jewish settlement in Iasi became a stopover place for Polish merchants on their way to Bessarabia and the port at Galati. Several Moldavian princes used Jewish doctors, who also served political roles. The trade in wine and hard spirits at that time was almost solely in Jewish hands. In the 17th century, Iasi served as a stopover for immigrants  from central and eastern European countries and Jews slowly began to settle in the area. 

In the 19th century the Jewish population throughout Romania grew rapidly and the fastest growth was in Moldavia and especially the largest cities: 

1803 1820 1831 1838 1859 1899
Iasi 2420 4396 17570 29692 31015 39441
Botosani 1400 2444 1646 9880 13123 16660
Galati 72 --- 408 976 3137 13970
Piatra 120 160 683 1760 3900 8473
Bacau 232 220 544 1740 3819 7850
Roman 288 416 1200 1936 3290 6099

In 1855, Iaşi was the home ofAvram Goldfaden the first Yiddish language newspaper, Korot Haitim. In 1876 Avraham Goldfaden (right) founded the world's first professional Yiddish Theater  in Romania.

Iasi's prominence as a major center of Jewish culture is also noted in the area of music.  The words of  Ha Tikvah, the Israeli national anthem were written by Naphtali Herz Imber in Iasi. 

One particularly noteworthy Iasi academic family was headed by Benjamin Schwarzfeld who lived from 1822 to 1896. He was an educator, writer and father of:

  • Elias Schwarzfeld (1855-1905)   novelist and historian 
  • Wilhelm Schwarzfeld (1856-1894)  writer, publisher, historian
  • Moses Schwarzfeld (1857-1943)   writer, publisher, Zionist leader.

Elias wrote two highly regarded and interesting articles in the AJY 1901-02: The Jews of Roumania - From the Earliest Times to the Present Day and  Situation of the Jews in Roumania - Since the Treaty of Berlin (1878).

For more details from the Romanian point of view see Romania and the Jews by Radu D. Rosettio (1904)

On the eve of the Holocaust (1930) Jews were the second largest ethnic group with 127 synagogues. After World War II Iaşi played a prominent part in the revival of Yiddish culture but politics and renewed anti-semitism in the 1960s/70s led to a declining Jewish population. Today there are about 300 to 600 Jews and one synagogue. 

Road from Botosani to Iasi

Iasi Judetul Border with Botosani

Main Road from Botosani to Iasi
photo by Robert Zavos, May 2008
Gently rolling hills at the Judetul Iasi border 
photo by Robert Zavos May 2008
Iasi Great Synagogue

Palatul Culturii Iasi

Great Synagogue built 1670 Palatul Culturii Iasi

Iasi Yizkor Book Now Available

JewishGen's Yizkor-Books-In-Print project published a 480 page English translation (originally in Romanian) of Trilogy of Three Romanian Jewish Communities -  Bacau, Iasi and Podu Iloaiei" By I. Kara, a noted Romanian Yiddish scholar. click: Yizkor Book Website

Iasi Research Projects 

ROM-SIG is currently working on record acquisition for Iasi and other Romanian cities. If you can help please see  ROM-SIG VOLUNTEERS.

You can also donate funds at ROM-SIG PROJECT DONATIONS to help pay for photographing the records.  Please inform ROM-SIG of your donations at: REPORT DONATION.  

Project details by town and years are available at The Moldavia Vital records Data base on Jewishgen

For more information send email to Barbara Hershey

Amazing Virtual Tours

Short History of Iasi 2:56

Iasi City - 5:51 great aerial views

Iasi. The City of the Beginnings  6:45 

Iasi, The Memory of Time  7:13

Iasi 1900  8:16  

Iasi Jewish Heritage 1   9:14  A Voyage to Iasi

Iasi Jewish Heritage 2   9:20   Podul IIoaiei

Iasi Links



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Last Updated January 12, 2020
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