The new leader of Romanian’s Jewish community has officially taken office. Rabbi Yehezkel Mark, 67, who was elected to the position May 28, succeeds the late Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen.
“His arrival gives content to the community’s religious life,” said Iulian Soren of Romanian’s Federation of Jewish Communities.
Mark comes to the position as Romania still tolerates anti-Semitism in politics and the media. Also, the return of Jewish property seized by the Communists remains an unresolved problem.
Some 15,000 Jews, many of whom are elderly, now live in Romania.
Mark will not formally have the title of chief rabbi, though his jurisdiction includes all the country’s Jewish congregations. A new chief rabbi is expected to be elected by the end of the year. Mark will likely be one of the nominees.
Unlike Rosen, Mark will not be president of the country’s Jewish federation, a function now held by a layman, Nicolae Cajal.
Mark, who was born in Bascesti-Roman, Romania, left in 1946 for Israel, where he fought in the 1948 War of Independence. He led a South African congregation between 1970 and 1972.
Rosen, who died at 81 last year, enabled nearly the entire postwar Jewish community of Romania, about 400,000 people, to emigrate to Israel, a unique exodus in Communist Eastern Europe.