Minors accused of anti-Semitic vandalism in historic Romanian synagogue

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Romanian police have identified a group of minors accused of vandalizing a synagogue in southwest Transylvania on the eve of the anniversary of an infamous Holocaust pogrom in the country, according to the Romanian daily Adevărul reported.

The vandals smashed the windows of the historic synagogue in the city of Orăștie. The building was constructed in the late 1800s and is a historical monument. It was restored in the early 2000s and is also used for exhibitions and as a cultural center, according to the European Jewish Congress.
The vandalism itself, reported in the Stirile Transylvania newspaper, was first noticed Monday morning by archaeologists from the local Museum of Ethnography and Folk Art, who saw broken windows and found a few medium-sized stones inside the synagogue.

According to Adevărul, the suspects have been identified as a group of minors between the ages of 9 and 14.

The vandalism preceded the 80th anniversary of the Iași pogrom, a brutal Holocaust pogrom in the city of Iași that saw more than 13,000 Jews murdered between June 29 and July 16, 1941. Some who survived the initial massacre were forced to board wagons, where they were left for days as the train made the round trip through the countryside, killing most of the occupants through suffocation, dehydration and starvation. The Jews who were left in Iasi were forced into a designated section of the city that was erected into an open ghetto, under curfew, where they lived under the constant threat of being deported to labor camps. They were regularly beaten by German and Romanian soldiers.

The survivors of the pogrom were unable to receive financial compensation for the damage suffered until 2017, when the announcement was made by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.
Thousands of gravestones were also stolen from the old Jewish cemetery on Ciurchi Street in the city, which had over 20,000 graves and dated back to 1467 before it was finally razed in 1943 by order of the prime minister of the time, Ion Antonescu. However, many of these tombstones were discovered in 2020 after heavy rains exposed an underground cave in the city’s Tatarasi Park.

Tamara Zieve and Cnaan Liphshiz / JTA contributed to this report.

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