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First Rabbi Rafael Shaffer, at reinauguration of Great Synagogue: Iasi enjoys fruits of tolerance of its ancestors


More than 100 people took part on Monday evening in the reinauguration ceremony of the oldest Mosaic worship center in Romania, the Great Synagogue in Iasi, a historical monument built in the 17th century.

The event was preceded by the unveiling of a memorial plaque that was placed at the entrance to the Synagogue. At the reinauguration festivities of the Great Synagogue in Iasi were also present representatives of local authorities, cultural and academic institutions, representatives of the Jewish community, Teofan, the Metropolitan Bishop of Moldavia and Bucovina, and Petru Gherghel, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Iasi.

On this occasion, President of the Jewish Community of Iasi, Abraham Ghiltman, told AGERPRES that evening the Jews community in the municipality celebrated three holidays.

"Firstly, the Centennial, to which the Jewish community in Iasi and Jewish communities in the country contributed. Also today we are celebrating Hanukkah, which means reinauguration or the celebration of lights. At the same time, we reinaugurate the Great Synagogue in Iasi. It is in fact the Great Synagogue from Targu Cucului. I say this because there were three large synagogues in Iasi, one in each neighborhood - Podu Ros, Targu Cucului and Pacurari. This event is special because it is the first synagogue built in Iasi and the first synagogue on the territory of Romania," said Abraham Ghiltman.

"The synagogue is the oldest in Romania, since around 1670. The next synagogue in Romania was built after 1800, so a difference of 150 years. In 1670, when the word ?tolerance' was not yet common, the town of Iasi was the first to allow the Jewish community to build a stone synagogue. Until then all the synagogues were made of wood. Now Iasi enjoys the fruits of the tolerance of its ancestors," First Rabbi Rafael Shaffer told journalists.

"It has been over 70 years since the Jewish population was unjustly punished for things they had never done. Today we have managed to reopen a beautiful page in the history of this community by reconsecrating and reinaugurating the oldest and most beautiful synagogue in the country. (...) Iasi can be the home of all ethnicities, of all those who believe in friendship, peace, understanding, tolerance and, why not, a tourist attraction that we hope to attract as many visitors as possible, especially from abroad," said the Mayor of Iasi Mihai Chirica.

"The synagogue is extraordinary, it is impressive especially in the manner in which it was thought. This simplicity of white, with the superb altar, the extraordinary chandeliers give you a feeling and an atmosphere rarely found in Romania," said Romania's Consul General in New York, Catalin Dancu.

The Great Synagogue in Iasi was built between 1657 and 1671, being the oldest building of Mosaic religion on the territory of Romania. The place of worship was included in the list of historical monuments in Iasi County. According to historians, on the current place of the edifice there was a synagogue built in 1582, which allegedly was completely destroyed when the existing one was built. The Great Synagogue has stone and brick walls with a thickness of one meter and its height is 22 meters.

The synagogue has influences of the similar Mosaic worship buildings in Bohemia, Poland and Russia.


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