||An letter in German (Hebrew letters) and Hungarian to members of the Orthodox Hevra Kadisha of Cluj seeking all types of assistance in furthering the goals and aims of the institution. Funds and personal are desperately needed. The letter is signed by Mozes Elek and Laszlo Gyula.
Cluj --city in central Rumania, the cultural, industrial, and political center of Transylvania; from 1790 to 1848 and 1861 to 1867 capital of Transylvania; until 1920 and between 1940 and 1945 in Hungary. Jews visited the Cluj fairs in the 16th and 17th centuries. A Jew is mentioned there in 1769. Eight Jewish families are recorded at Cluj in the census of 1780. In 1784 the municipal council prohibited the inhabitants from selling real estate to Jews and Jews were forbidden to lodge temporarily in the city: a prolonged struggle on the question of Jewish rights ensued. In 1807 the Jews in Cluj opened a prayer room, and by 1818 the community, then numbering 40 persons, had a synagogue. A hevra kaddisha was founded in 1837. Fifteen Jewish families were permitted to remain in the city in 1839 but were debarred from accommodating additional Jews in their houses. When in 1840 the Jews applied for permission to fence in their cemetery, the request was rejected on the ground that their presence had no legal authorization. With the revolution of 1848 the prohibition on Jewish residence was abolished, and subsequently the Jewish population rapidly increased. The Jews in Cluj at first engaged mainly in commerce, trading especially in goods from the Orient, notably Turkey. They later entered the crafts and, during the 19th century, the professions.
The rabbis and dayyanim in Cluj, on whom information is available from 1812, were subject to the supervision of the chief rabbi of Transylvania. The Great Synagogue was inaugurated in 1850. The first rabbi, Hillel Lichtenstein, who officiated from 1851 to 1853, had to leave after opposition by a section of the community and his failure to obtain a certificate from the Transylvanian chief rabbi. The rabbi of Cluj from 1863 to 1877 was Abraham Glasner. He was opposed by the hasidic movement then gaining ground.
The first convention of Transylvanian Jewry was held at Cluj in 1886. The community was organized on an Orthodox basis in 1869. A short-lived Reform community was then also established. Moses Glasner, Orthodox rabbi from 1878 to 1922, took a leading role in communal affairs. The status quo community, organized in Cluj in 1881 and affiliated to the neologist communities, built a magnificent synagogue in the principal avenue of the city . The Hasidim established a separate communal organization in 1921.
After World War I the Jewish national movement was active in Cluj. Cluj remained the center of the Zionist movement for Transylvania, although some of its offices were later transferred to Timisoara. By the end of 1918 Uj Kelet, a lively Zionist weekly, later a daily, began publication in Cluj. It had a large readership and became a leading influence among the Jews of Transylvania and Rumania. The newspaper was also the organ of the (principally Zionist) Jewish Party (Partidul Evreiesc). A printing press set up in Cluj in 1910 operated until the Holocaust. The schools of the Cluj community attracted pupils throughout Transylvania. The Orthodox community opened an elementary school in 1870, and the neologist community opened one in 1904. A Hebrew Tarbut secondary school, started in 1920, took the lead in education of the youth until closed by the Rumanian authorities in 1927. After Cluj had been annexed by Hungary and Jewish children were prohibited from attending general schools, a Jewish secondary school for boys and girls was opened in October 1940; it remained open until both pupils and teachers were interned in the ghetto.
The Jewish population numbered 231 in 1857; 994 in 1869; 2,414 (7.4% of the total population) in 1891; 7,046 (11.6%) in 1910; 10,633 in 1920; 14,000 (13.4%) in 1927; and 13,504 in 1930. After the Hungarian annexation in 1940, anti-Jewish measures and economic restrictions were imposed, followed by physical persecution. In 1942 most of the men of military age in Cluj were conscripted for forced labor and transported to the eastern front to the Nazi-occupied area of the Soviet Union, where most of them perished. When the Germans entered Hungary in the summer of 1944 the local Jews, numbering approximately 16,763 with others from the surrounding villages and the town of SzamosujvFr (Gherla), were confined to a ghetto. Subsequently they were deported to Auschwitz where the majority perished. The few survivors who returned to Cluj from the camps, with those who had joined them from other localities, numbered 6,500 in 1947.