Introduction / History
Before WWII there were more than 700,000 Yiddish speaking Jews in Romania. Over half of them died during the war. The vast majority of the rest have immigrated to Israel, the USA, Britain, Australia or other countries. Today less than one thousand are left in Romania.
Today in Romania, Yiddish is a dying language spoken primarily by elderly people and orthodox or Hassidic Jews. When a Romanian Jew moves to Israel he or she is required to speak Hebrew not Yiddish. When a Jew is born in the USA or other western nation, they will rarely learn Yiddish.
Since European Jews were often not allowed to own land, they gravitated to cities. They took jobs as accountants, physicians, lawyers, diamond cutters, bankers, and shop owners. The heart language of these Jews in Romania is Eastern Yiddish.
Where are they located?
Yiddish speaking Jews of Romania live in a community in the city of Brasov.
What are their lives like?
The Jews of Brasov live a their own section of Brasov. They live within walking distance to their synagogue. Hassidic families intermarry and try to stay out of the spotlight in the city. Many are well educated and know many languages like Romanian, German, Hebrew, and English. Yet, their distinctive Hassidic clothing marks them as Orthodox Jews.
Hassidic Jews tend to have large families. They obey the teachings of their rebbe or chief rabbi. Their children attend their own schools. They strictly try to follow the many commandments of the Torah or first five books of the Old Testament. They eat kosher or according to the diet of the Old Testament Law, which means no pork, shellfish or unclean animals. Even the meat of clean animals has to be blessed by a rabbi before eaten.
What are their beliefs?
The Eastern Yiddish speaking Jews of Romania are mostly Hassidic Jews. They do not want their children influenced by the values and ways of modern society. Their Holy Book is the Old Testament, especially the Books of Moses. Jewish boys must learn the basics of Hebrew and the Law for his bar mitzvah at age 13. Bar mitzvah means "son of the commandment." Orthodox Jews believe by studying and obeying the Law that they will gain God's blessing and enter into heaven when they die.
What are their needs?
The Jews of Romanian need to hear about their Messiah Yeshua or Jesus and the forgiveness He offers. They must come to understand that they can only be forgiven by trusting in Yeshua alone, not on the basis of their works of righteousness.
* Pray that God leads the rabbis of the Romanian Jews to a knowledge of Christ.
* Pray that God opens their spiritual eyes to the truth of the gospel.
* Pray the Lord sends some Messianic Jews who speak Yiddish to take the gospel to Romania.
* Pray that Romanian Jews will understand that Jesus desires to bless their families and communities, not harm them.
Text source: Keith Carey