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Bronfman Told Romanian Jews Still Free to Immigrate to Israel

July 1, 1988
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Romanian Jews will continue to enjoy the right to immigrate to Israel, and to lead a full Jewish life in Romania, according to World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman.

Those assurances were given to Bronfman by President Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, at a private meeting at the presidential palace Thursday.

Bronfman noted Romania’s liberal policy with regard to aliyah as well as the facilities and wherewithal given the Jewish community to conduct their lives in Romania.

“We were assured that this policy will remain in place,” said Elan Steinberg, WJC executive director, who accompanied Bronfman.

Their discussions touched on a wide range of international problems, including the Middle East and East-West relations.

The Romanian news agency released a special communique on the meeting, which in a Communist country is a sign of official recognition.

Bronfman and Steinberg are here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the election of Rabbi Moses Rosen as chief rabbi of Romania and head of the Jewish community. He is a member of the Romanian Parliament.

Formal ceremonies, held at the Jewish Community Center, were attended by government officials and the American, Canadian and Israeli ambassadors. Romania is the only Eastern European country to maintain full diplomatic relations with Israel.

The Israeli envoy, Joseph Govrin, hosted members of the diplomatic corps and leaders of the Jewish community at a reception for Bronfman and Steinberg.


Bronfman praised Rosen’s work on behalf of Jewish immigration to Israel.

“Under his leadership, 93 percent of Romanian Jewry have gone on to Israel, earning him recognition as truly a latter-day Moses,” Bronfman said.

In 1948, when Rosen assumed his position as chief rabbi, Romania’s Jewish population was 400,000. Today it stands at 20,000.

Almost all of those who left have gone to Israel, and Rosen has been instrumental in helping them get there.

He takes great pride in that fact. “They don’t go to Philadelphia,” Rosen said once, alluding to many Soviet Jews who prefer immigrating to the United States.

Bucharest has recently assumed an important position in the Soviet Jewry aliyah movement.

The Israeli Cabinet decided on June 19 that henceforth Israeli visas would be issued only to those Soviet Jews committed to resettling in Israel.

To assure that they do, they will be required to pick up their visas at the Israeli Embassy in Bucharest, and then fly directly to Tel Aviv.

Rosen has been very critical of that policy, saying “it will create a new category of prisoners of Zion, people who are forced” to go to Israel.

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