Mediaș

Mediasch | Medgyes


Historical Background

map_medias.png The town of Mediaș was founded by German settlers, the Saxons, in the 12th century. By the mid-19th century there were numerous Jewish families in the surrounding villages and several in Mediaș itself. Following the revolutions of 1848 and the resulting loosening of residency restrictions, many of the village families gradually moved to Mediaș and the community was officially founded. Around this time David Bäumel arrived from Wolfersdorf, Bohemia. He became the community’s first rabbi and married Lotte Kappel, the daughter of a prominent local family who had lived in Mediaș since the late 18th century, at least. By the turn of the 20th century the community was well established and had constructed a large, new synagogue on the edge of the medieval city walls. Officially the community was German-speaking, in line with the majority population of the Saxon town. David Bäumel died in 1899 and by 1905 a new rabbi, Moishe Reich of Budapest, assumed rabbinical responsibilities. In the 1920s the president of the community, Benjamin Czitron, financed the construction of a Jewish school building and new mikvah adjacent to the synagogue. Both structures as well as the synagogue still exist today.

The community survived World War II relatively unscathed, nevertheless by the end of the war community dynamics had changed considerably as a result of the death of Rabbi Reich in 1945, the emigration of many prominent community members, and a large influx of refugees from Bukovina and northern regions of Transylvania. Like the rest of the Jewish population in Romania, during the 1950s and 1960s most members emigrated to Israel or elsewhere and by the fall of Communism, only a handful of people remained. Today the synagogue is empty and the archival documents and books are housed in the former Jewish community offices next to the synagogue.

Author

Julie Dawson

Helpful links

Guide to LBI's Medias Jewish Community Photograph Collection

Guide to LBI's Medias Jewish Community Collection

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