IASI, Romania (Jun. 14)
Some five weeks after the death of Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen, Romania’s Jewish community has elected a new leader.
The executive committee of the Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities on Monday unanimously elected Professor Nicolae Cajal as the federation’s new president.
For more than four decades, Rosen was both religious and organizational leader of Romanian Jewry. Following his death on May 6, communal leaders agreed to a separation of the two powers.
The election of Cajal, which was reported on Romanian television and radio stations, was greeted warmly both within and outside the country’s Jewish community.
Born in Bucharest in 1919, Cajal is a micro-biologist whose research has earned worldwide recognition. He is a vice chairman of the Romanian Academy and is director of the academy’s medical science division.
In addition to his scientific career, Cajal was elected to serve as an independent senator in the country’s first post-revolutionary parliament in 1989.
Cajal was for many years one of Rosen’s advisers, and he has been actively involved in social assistance programs run by the federation with the support of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
During interviews with television and radio stations, Cajal acknowledged the presence of anti-Semitism in the country and suggested that one way to combat it was to publicize the activities of Romania’s Jews in the fields of culture and science.
He expressed the hope that such publicity would lead to greater understanding of Jewish values, as they apply both to life in Romania and to the civilized world as a whole.