What Makes Romania a Great Jewish Tours Destination
Romania is a perfect destination for Jewish tours when you’re looking for a place that’s adventurous and still holds a strong connection to the Jewish history of the region. Though the Jews in this region know many ups and downs the Jewish community has been flourishing until the second world war.
After the Holocaust, only 290,000 to 360,000 Romanian Jews survived World War II, living through communism, many emigrating to Israel, but to this day, much of the Jewish culture has survived and can be found in Romania.
Today, the Jewish population in Romania has dwindled to around 3,271 people. There are several active synagogues, and the country is home to the oldest uninterrupted Yiddish-Language theater in the world.
You can visit Romania with Gil Travel to experience a revival of Jewish cultural and religious life in the country, and the country has become a fascinating and rich location for Jewish heritage tours.
As Romania is full of interesting and historic Jewish-related locations to explore it can be difficult to choose where one wishes to visit. For that reason, we have created this article that will help you pick the best Jewish heritage locations to visit in Romania.
The Jewish Quarter of Bucharest
Recently, the Romanian tourism industry has been making efforts to revive the old Jewish quarter in Bucharest. While much of the old city of Bucharest was destroyed during the communist era in favor of new builds, some heritage sites still remain and are worth a visit.
There are museums housed in the Choral Temple as well as the Great Synagogue and the Holy Union Temple. There’s a Memorial to the Jewish Victims of the Pogrom in Bucharest behind the Great synagogue. You can also visit the building of the State Jewish Theater, the building of the new Jewish high school “Laude-Reut, and the Center for the Study of the History of the Jews in Romania.
This synagogue in Bucharest is the main synagogue of the Jewish community in Bucharest. It’s the largest mosaic place of worship in the city and was built between 1864-1866.
The temple is built in the Moorish-Byzantine style as a replica of the Temple in Vienna and is a great place to explore the Jewish culture in Romania from before the second world war. There is a Holocaust memorial in the courtyard in front of the temple.
This synagogue in Bucharest, located at Strada Vasile Adamache 11, București 030167, is one of the best Jewish places to go when you visit Romania is the Great Synagogue. It was built in 1846 and is home to the Memorial of the Jewish Martyrs.
The synagogue is home to the Holocaust Museum and has an exhibit dedicated to Jewish martyrs.
United Holy Temple
This temple, located in Bucharest was built in 1836 has a Moorish, Romanesque and post-Buzantine facade. The building houses the Museum of History of the Jews of Romania, an excellent place to learn about Jewish culture in Romania and Jewish history in Romania.
Jewish Cemetery Giurgiulia
This is the largest of the three Jewish cemeteries in Romania and the second largest in Romania. There are 35,000-40,000 graves, many are of Holocaust victims and Jewish soldiers and heroes.
State Jewish theater
This theater was founded in 1941 to give Jewish actors a space after they were banned from acting in Romanian theaters. It operates in Yiddish and is the first professional Yiddish theater in the world.
Today, you can go to see plays by Jewish authors and on Jewish topics, as well as plays in Yiddish.
Jewish Festivals In Romania
Come to Romania to enjoy many Jewish heritage festivals such as the Bucharest Jewish Film Festival, the Shalom Jerusalem Festival, the Yiddish Lnauge and Culture Festival, or the Yiddish International Theater Festival.
There are plenty of Jewish Artistic groups in Romania as well, Hora Bucharest, an Israeli and traditional Jewish dance group, the Bucharest Klezmer band, and the Choir of Children of the Jewish Community Center Bucharest.
Kosher Food In Romania
There are plenty of places in Romania to get Kosher food, including the Avraham Kosher restaurant-cafe for great Israeli food and falafel, Bereshit Restaurant-Grocery, Moise Kosher House Restaurant-Grocery for fish and meat, Shabbat Dinner RSVP, and a Kosher Grocery. It’s best to call these places in advance, however, to make sure they can provide you with meals before you arrive in the country
Now we all know how beautiful Romania’s countryside is, consider taking a Jewish trip to Romania that includes sites outside the main cities that are also special to visit and connected to the Jewish heritage in Romania, especially Transylvania.
Here are some of the places to visit in Transylvania
Sinaia Monastery is a complex of courtyards with two churches, the Old Church and The Great Church. The monastery is still active so you’re likely to see monks on your visit, and respect and silence are appreciated.
There’s a museum in the Monastery that was the first to show religious objects in the country and actually houses the first bible written in the Romanian language.
In Brasov, there’s a citadel and medieval center, as well as a late-nineteenth-century synagogue you can visit. It’s the center of current Jewish life in the city. There’s also a Kosher restaurant, retirement home, and mikveh for the Jewish community in the area.
Brasov is worth a visit because it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Romania. The Medieval area will leave you breathless. There’s a cable car to go up Tampa Mountain for a view of all of the city, and it’s a good central location for visiting surrounding castles like the Cantacuzino Castle and Bran’s Castle.
From Bram’s Castle, a residence for Romanian monarchs, to Poenari Castle, home to Vlad the Impaler, there are many castles to visit along the roads of Romania that will leave you thinking that you walked into a fairy tale or a Bram Stoker novel.
Peles Castle, built in Neo-Renaissance style in the late 19th century, is one of my own favorites. It’s charming and located in the most beautiful part of the Carpathian Mountains. The complex also includes the Pelisor Castle and Foisor Hunting Lodge.
Festivals In Sibiu
Sibiu is one of the most beautiful cities in Romania. It was settled by Germans in Romania, and much of the language, culture, and food is still German.
If you’re looking for something exciting to do, Sibiu has festivals almost every weekend. There are also many museums and a great food scene.
One of the most unique parts of Sibiu is its roof windows–they look like eyes, so it seems the city is keeping its eyes on you.
The first book in Hebrew in Transylvania was printed in the city of Sibiu in 1973. It was a collection of poems. The city also used to be home to a Jewish school and a Hasidic community.
Today, the Jewish community of Sibiu consists of less than 50 members.
As you probably can see Jewish heritage tours to Romania are spectacular, filled with a long and rich history, as well as unique sites like castles and monasteries. The best time to visit there is starting around mid-April so make sure to mark all these places for your next trip. Continue exploring the unique cultural Jewish connection in Europe on a walking tour and I promise you that you will find a beautiful world.
This article was written in cooperation with Iris Hami, President of Gil Travel Group.