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Jews Equal in All Respects, Roumanian Minister Assures Leaders

January 12, 1923
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The third Congress of the Union of Jewish Communities of Old Roumania, which took place at Bucharest on December 10, 11 and 12, gathered in a very heavily laden atmosphere. The delegates, among whom were many of the most prominent Jews of the country, representing every community, were still dazed by the recent anti-Semitic outbreaks and manifestations in various cities.

The president Eli Berkowitz, opened the Congress. Mr. Constantin Banu, the Minister of the Cults and Arts, officially represented the Government, being accompanied by V.G. Ispir, the general secretary of the Department of Cults, and Dr. P. Popescu, the director general of the foreign religions (as distinguished from the Christian Orthodox religion, which is the state religion).

The President as well as Dr. Filderman, the Vice-President, and the Chief Rabbi Dr. Niemerower, alluded to the recent outrages, and then stated the object of the Congress to be the consideration of the law which the Government intends to enact for the organization, functioning and powers of the Jewish Communities. The Government had submitted a draft of the bill to the Union and this draft was to be considered and amended and then returned as the law which the Jews desire to have enacted, it being the avowed wish of the Government, in so far as the religious communities of various faiths are concerned, to have them organized under a uniform law. The various faiths have thus been given an opportunity to practically draft the law, so that they may serve their own interests best.

At the opening session Minister Banu delivered an important address on the draft of the law. “This question of the communities of the various faiths presented two modes of action”, he said among other things. “One, to enact a law dealing with the subject and then enforce, it making all submit to it; another way was to confer and consult with you because the question interests you vitally, as well as the State. We have chosen the second mode of action and I am happy to say that it has proven successful.”

Speaking of the Jewish question he said “We have solved it in the manner which you have deserved and with due consideration for the services you have rendered the country. We are not ingrates. We will not forget nor for that matter can we forget, that you have bled with us, and even if only one Jew had given his life for the country, he has consecrated our common cause. Whoever will be at the head of the Government will have to consider you our equal in every respect.”

Fifty-nine of the sixty-seven existing Jewish communities in Roumania took part in the conference, 150 delegates being present. Six sessions of the conference were held. A draft constitution for the organization of all the Jewish communities was submitted. Other questions discussed were the project for the union of Jewish communities in Old Roumania, suggestions for the development of the Jewish schools, the publication of a textbook of Jewish history and the regulation of relief work.

The conference adopted a resolution that every town in which there is a Jewish community should have Bucharest as its centre. It agreed further that the religious community should be responsible not merely for the religious objects but also for the cultural and social requirements of its members.

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