The same night that the Romanian Jewish community remembered their late Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen a year after his death, a new chief rabbi for Bucharest was elected.
Eventually, the newly selected Yehezkel Mark will serve as the chief rabbi for the entire nation.
Mark was overwhelmingly chosen for the post late last month by the board of the Federation of the Romanian Jewish Communities. He had two competitors, and received 52 of 56 votes.
Mark was born in 1928 in Bascesti-Roman, Romania, and illegally immigrated to Israel. He also spent many years in South Africa.
The ceremony for Rosen, held at the Choral Temple in Bucharest, drew representatives of Jewish communities of Romania and government officials as well as distinguished guests from Israel and the United States.
Rosen, who was chief rabbi of Romania from 1948 until his death last year, wielded an extraordinary amount of influence within that country as a religious leader and as a frequent ambassador to the United States on behalf of Romania.
With the extensive help of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Rosen managed to enable Romanian Jews to practice a strong religious and cultural life throughout Romania, even through the Communist era.
Rosen, who died at 81, enabled nearly the entire postwar Jewish community of Romania, about 400,000 people, to emigrate to Israel, a unique exodus in Communist Eastern Europe. An estimated 16,000 Jews still live in Romania.
Rosen was sometimes criticized for channeling money to Romania’s Communist regime in exchange for providing the country’s Jews with exit visas.
But Rosen he remained steadfast in his efforts to secure the country’s Jews safe passage to Israel.