Transylvanian Review nr. 2/2009


Maria Radosav, The Life of Books and the Life of People: The Book Collection Stored in the Synagogue of Satu Mare (18th–20th Centuries), p. 3

AbstractThe Life of Books and the Life of People: The Book Collection Stored in the Synagogue of Satu Mare (18th–20th Centuries) – The study presents a number of handwritten notes found in the Satu Mare Hebrew book collection stored in the old synagogue on Decebal Street. These notes provide valuable documentary material referring to the history of private life in the local Jewish communities over the last two centuries. The information on events that occurred in individual or family life, as well as in the “great history,” presents a picture of Jewish society and describes the dynamics of a Jewish identity confronted with tensions coming from both tradition and assimilationism. The contents of the notes in question ranges from references to the main moments in family life—birth and death—to comments concerning the owners’ education and other major life experiences.

Keywords: Hebrew books, Holocaust, Transylvanian Jews, Jewish education in Transylvania

Marco Grusovin, Atticismo e Giudaismo nel pensiero di Samuel David Luzzatto, p. 18

AbstractAtticism and Judaism in the Thinking of Samuel David Luzzatto – The present study examines the origin, the specific nature, and the relevance of two categories defining the thinking of Samuel David Luzzatto (1800–1865), an outstanding representative of Jewish Italian and European culture from the first half of the 19th century. Our analysis is based first and foremost on the letters exchanged in 1838–1839 by Luzzatto and his fried Isacco Samuele Reggio (1784–1855), also drawing on the latest studies published by Shmuel Feiner, Ron Margolin, and Irene Kajon. By counterpoising Atticism and Judaism, Luzzatto did not necessarily express the need for a choice in favor of one or the other, but rather sought to achieve a difficult balance centered on the secret of human fate. This secret can be reached emotionally, especially through compassion, which tells of both humanity and justice, but it can be also be found in religion, especially in Judaism, which devised a brilliant pedagogic methodology for expressing and conveying precisely this reality through the practice of mizwot. Luzzatto cannot avoid expressing in a rational and syste¬ma¬tic fashion—without disregarding historical transfigurations—his pursuit of the deepest meaning of mankind and of its fate. As science deals mostly with the material and quantitative aspects pertaining to nature, religion, in both its pragmatic and ceremonial dimensions, needs to be safeguarded. The effort to keep rationalism away from the core of religion remains central to Luzzatto’s life and work, which does not mean that the thinker himself ever dispensed with rationality.

Keywords: Samuel David Luzzatto, Atticism, Judaism, rationalism, religion

Alberto Castaldini, L’identità tradita. Gli Ebrei d’Italia dallo Statuto Albertino alle Leggi razziali, p. 35

Abstract – A Betrayed Identity: Italian Jews from the Albertine Statute to the Racial Laws – The study synthetically presents the evolution of the Jewish minority in Italy, from the Habsburg period to the fascist racial laws of 1938. In its Article 24, the Statute of 4 March 1848 (called the Albertine Statute after the name of its author, Carlo Alberto di Savoia-Carignano), granted civil and political rights to all citizens (regnicoli), including the Jews. The identity of Italian Jews, built during centuries of uninterrupted presence on the Italian peninsula, received a devastating blow after the adoption of the racial laws, which brought with them exclusion and considerable suf¬fering.

Keywords: Italian Jews, identity, Albertine Statute, racial laws, Giorgio Bassani

Ladislau Gyémánt, Les Juifs de Transylvanie à l’époque du dualisme (1867-1918), p. 42

AbstractThe Jews of Transylvania under the Dual Monarchy (1867–1918) – The study synthetically presents the situation of Transylvanian Jews—in demographic, eco¬nomic, social, and cultural terms—at the time of Austria-Hungary. After being granted equal civic rights (Law XVII/1867), the Jews in Transylvania experienced a period of unprecedented development: demographic increase (118.5% between 1869 and 1910), economic prosperity, an increase in the number of community institutions (also in the urban areas), the construction of synagogues, the development of education and culture (rabbinic literature, Jewish studies, history, poetry, press and printing, painting). In parallel, soon after the emancipation, the first signs of anti-Semitism began to appear and, in defense, some tendencies towards cultural-linguistic assimilation and integration within Hungarian society. The Zionist movement emerged in the early 20th century, but it remained a minority trend in Transylvania when compared to the traditionalist, Hasidic, and assimilationist positions.

Keywords: Jews, Transylvania, Austro-Hungarian dualism, assimilation, anti-Semitism, Zionism

Nicolae Bocşan and Raluca Ilioni, La reconnaissance de l’indépendance de la Roumanie par l’Italie, p. 51

AbstractThe Recognition of Romania’s Independence by Italy – The study presents a distinct chapter in the history of Romanian-Italian diplomatic relations, focu¬sing on the recognition of Romania’s independence. The Berlin Peace Treaty (1878) recognized Romania’s independence, provided that the country granted political rights to non-Christians (Art. 44) and accepted the exchange of territory between Bessarabia and Dobruja (Art. 45). In its Article 7, the Romanian Constitution only recognized the political rights of its Christian citizens. In October 1878, the Parliament ratified the territorial clauses of the Berlin Treaty and amended the fundamental law of the country. The paper presents the efforts undertaken by the Romanian di¬plomats, focusing on the relation with Italy. They eventually managed to gain recognition for the country’s independence (December 1879), and the Romanian diplomatic agency in Roma was given the status of foreign legation.

Keywords: diplomacy, Romania, Italy, Romanian independence, Berlin Treaty (1878), Jews

Marta Petreu, A Case of Mystified Perception: Mihail Sebastian, p. 70

AbstractA Case of Mystified Perception: Mihail Sebastian – For a long time, the image of Mihail Sebastian in Romanian culture has been the distorted one of a gentle democrat, an innocent victim of the intolerant right-wing doctrines manifest in Romania until the end of the Second World War. The present analysis of some articles published by Sebastian in Cuvântul shows that he was anything but a democrat, eager to complain about excessive mi¬nority rights and subtly endorsing the idea of violence in politics. Despite the fact that his texts were never explicitly anti-Semitic or openly supportive of the far-right Legion of the Archangel Michael, his continuing presence in the editorial staff of Cuvântul and his endorsement of the official line of the newspaper, after the latter’s radical turn to the right, require that the image of Sebastian be put in the proper perspective and context.

Keywords: Mihail Sebastian, anti-Semitism, interwar Romania, Nae Ionescu, far right, Legion of Archangel Michael

Ruxandra Cesereanu, Spite: The Romanian Extreme Right, p. 89

AbstractSpite: The Romanian Extreme Right – The present study analyzes the Romanian far right press of the interwar period and of the Second World War. These publications were violently anti-Semitic, turning personal attacks and crude language in an accepted journalistic norm. The violent discourse of the Romanian extreme right encompasses nine different registers, seen as characteristic for the Romanian mentality: subhuman, cleansing, criminal, beastly, religious, putrid-scatological, funereal, lubricious, xenophobic. Quite possibly, these representations touched upon every sensitive spot of the Romanian mentality, upon all of its complexes, inhibitions, and upon the need to compensate for the latter by finding a scapegoat and an ideal target in the Jews, in keeping with the general European trend (manifest during the heyday of the far right).

Keywords: anti-Semitism, Jews, interwar Romanian press, World War II, Romanian extreme right

Sandu Frunză, Elie Wiesel and Nostalgia for a Lost Paradise, p. 101

AbstractElie Wiesel and Nostalgia for a Lost Paradise – Born in the Transylvanian town of Sighet, a traditional Jewish shtetl, Elie Wiesel lived the tormenting experience of the deportation to Nazi death camps. The study discusses the ever present feeling of nostalgia for a lost paradise, as it appears in the writings of this author. Attention is also paid to the constant parallel between Sighet and Jerusalem, the two symbolic poles of Elie Wiesel’s existence. Realizing the impossibility of actually returning to the lost world, Wiesel grants memory a restorative, integrative, and redemptive role, tying the past to the present and further orienting it towards the future. For him, memory is thus the antidote to melancholy and despair.

Keywords: Elie Wiesel, Holocaust, Sighet, Jerusalem, nostalgia, deportation

Attila Gidó, L’enseignement préscolaire et pré-universitaire juif de Cluj à l’époque de l’entre-deux-guerres, p. 106

AbstractJewish Pre-School and Pre-University Education in Interwar Cluj – In 1918, the Jewish community in Transylvania had 32 elementary schools and 2 civilian schools, with Hungarian as the language of instruction. In the city of Cluj, presently the center of Jewish Transylvanian culture, Jews accounted for 13–15% of the population (16,700 inhabitants in 1941). When Tarbut Gymnasium closed down in 1927 (it had been established in 1920 as the third Jewish high school in Transylvania, after those in Timişoara and Oradea), no Jewish pre-university education institution remained in the city, following the Romanianization of Jewish primary and secondary schools in Transylvania. The high school was reopened during the Hungarian occupation (1940–1944). In 1927, Neologue rabbi Mátyás Eisler drew up a religious education project meant to produce “Jewish individuals who would be a credit, in all situations, to Jewish religion and national dignity.”

Keywords: Jewish education, Zionism, Cluj, interwar period, religious education

Maria Ghitta, L’écrivain et son identité ou « comment peut-on être écrivain roumain juif », p. 124

AbstractThe Writer and His Identity, or “How Can One Be a Romanian Jewish Writer” – On the threshold of the “new millennium,” as they used to say about the end of the year 2000, at a time when all sorts of rankings were being compiled and the Romanian literary milieu was mainly concerned with the classifications for the past century (the best book, the best writer, etc.), a major Romanian cultural review, Vatra, asked a different type of question: “How can one be a Romanian Jewish writer?” The question concerned the issue of identity, of a double or even of a triple identity. How can one be (at the same time? Simultaneously?) a writer, a Jew, and a Romanian? The review in question stated its position on the matter and also devoted its following two issues to it, inviting many writers to contribute their opinions. The answers quoted in the present study are but a few of the many such responses published by the cultural magazine of Târgu-Mureş. Still, the sur¬vey highlights some approaches common in the Romanian literary environment whenever the issue of “otherness” and of its problems comes up.

Keywords: Romanian literature, Mihail Sebastian, Norman Manea, identity, the Jewish question


Ioan Bolovan and Sorina Paula Bolovan, Transylvania until World War I: Demographic Opportunities and Vulnerabilities (II), p. 133

AbstractTransylvania until World War I: Demographic Opportunities and Vulnerabilities (II) – For centuries, the diversity of traditions and cultures has been one of the major assets of both Europe and Romania. The study examines, in a broad historical perspective, the demographic situation of Transylvania, a multiethnic and multilingual territory. Attention is given to population structure and to the status of the various ethnic groups in the statistical era, between 1850 and 1910. An interesting insight into the demographic and psychological behavior in Transylvania in the decades prior to World War I is offered by the matter of religiously and ethnically mixed marriages. We believe that this historical-demographic study, as well as other similar analyses, should offer both politicians and regular citizens of this country information and solutions for the present day.

Keywords: historical demography, Transylvania, ethnic minorities, ethno-confessional structure, the Memorandum of 1892


Alexandru Simon, The Triangle of the Year One Thousand: The Late Medieval Outline of a “Post-modern” Concept, p. 146

AbstractThe Triangle of the Year Thousand: The Late Medieval Outline of a “Post-modern” Concept – About half a century prior to the Eastern Schism and almost four centuries prior to the Western one, the area which was to become East-Central Europe, not yet crossed by the “Huntington line,” was surrounded by three “superpowers,” all advancing towards the center of the area. Virtually all three could be regarded as having reached the maximum point of historical expansion. The first of the three was Byzantium. The empire was in the process of eliminating the last remainders of the First Bulgarian Tsarate and reestablishing “East Roman” imperial control on the Lower Danube and between the Adriatic and the Black Sea. The second superpower was Kievan Rus’, christianized by Byzantium and created as an “empire” by a mixture of Nordic, Oriental and Slavic elements, connecting the Baltic to the Black Sea. The third one was the “Western Empire,” already more German than Roman. The empire’s supremacy was, successfully, contested from within by the papacy, which had just created in front of the Western Empire the kingdoms of Hungary and Poland, thus reestablishing its own missionary front between the Adriatic and the Baltic Sea. The three imperial sides formed a triangle marked by political fragmentation, which came to an apparent end, more exactly to a more lasting status quo, due to the brutal alterations in the structure of power and in state boundaries imposed by the events of World War II.

Keywords: Central and Eastern Europe, crusades, geopolitics, imperial structures, civilization(s), culture(s)

Book Reviews, p.156

Contributors, p. 160

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