The Synagogue in Hateg, Romania.
We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the synagogue and Jewish cemetery in Hateg. Our lunch host (Constantine) and the pastor (Niko) of the church took us to the 2 locations.
The synagogue has been declared a Historic Monument. Unfortunately, it is in disrepair. The small, round windows at the top along with the star of David are broken. This time we were not able to see the inside, but Constantine offered to arrange an opportunity to see inside the next time we come. We enjoyed so very much spending time with Constantine and Yoanna and their son Levi. Also we appreciated Pastor Niko and his wife Emma who walked with us Friday night from the village outside of Hateg back to the city.
The synagogue in Hateg was opened in 1864. Soon there after they built a mikve (ritual bath) and a cheder (Jewish school). They also had an active ladies group and chevra kadisha (men and women who prepare bodies for burial in the halachically-correct way (according to Jewish law), which were created in 1896.
They later split into Orthodox and Neologs. Neolog Judaism, prominent in Hungary, was socially more liberal and modern and promoted assimilation. Remember that Romania in the past was ruled by Hungary. The more liberal Neologs became active in teaching agriculture and Zionism and many of them made aliyah at some point and founded a few kibbutzim in Israel.
By 1937, one of the youth movements, “Habonim”, had become a training base for volunteers for the Haganah, which was a Jewish paramilitary organization which functioned in Israel during the British Mandate and later became the foundation of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
In 1940, all of the Jewish residents of Hateg were rounded up and housed in one location. All of their possessions were taken from them. Near the end of the war, Romania changed sides and joined the Allies. By the end of World War II, 30 Jewish residents remained. The community prior to the war was 600. The rest left the area, many going to Israel. We could not find out exactly how many were killed from Hateg during the Holocaust.
Some of you may wonder why I write about the history of Jewish communities and Israel which are not exactly concerning Biblical content. One reason is to make people aware of the anti-semitism of the past which will certainly happen again. As we speak with people throughout Europe, we are hearing more and more stories about how the atmosphere today is similar to the first rumblings in Europe leading up to World War II and the Holocaust. Another reason is to show that miracles happen every day and we may not even recognize them. Groups trained unprofessionally and then came together with others from throughout Europe and Israel and defeated all of their Arab neighbors in a supernatural way! Thirdly, we want to share with you the experiences and information which touch us as we minister to the people in Europe.
The Jewish Cemetery. The last burial took place there in 2006.