Tales and Traces of Sephardic Bucharest is meant to be an open door to a world that nowadays seems drawn from a fairy tale, a beginning, a first step designed to incite the reader's curiosity and convince him or her, regardless of whether he or she is an expert or just someone interested in the city's history, to start looking for more sources and information about the presence and contribution of the Sephardim (as well as the Ashkenazim, and the other minorities) to the development and modernization of Bucharest. In the current cultural movement bent on recovering the Romanian capital's history, with numerous articles, book and albums appearing at an impressive pace, the efforts (and implicitly the results) would be incomplete if they did not take into account this aspect, which is in some respects indispensable, considering that in some fields Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews were road openers.
Old and new images, success stories and accounts about characters that once populated Sephardic Bucharest are set before the reader so that by organizing them in various combinations he or she may get an overall picture of this world, which is today only virtual, but which is still too beautiful to be forgotten. For it is not just the synagogues and community buildings that have disappeared, but also the Sephardim themselves; of those who once represented the majority of Bucharest's Jews, so few are left now that one can almost count them on one's fingers. This book is dedicated to them.
Fragment din volum:
“Memory of Bygone Streets
The first documentary attestation of Bucharest (1459) was recorded just six years after the impressive fall of Constantinople under Ottoman rule. The city's open location coincided with the interests of the Ottomans, who could easily control the area, but at the same time offered access to the main European commercial routes, which connected Lvov, Belgrade, Budapest, Vienna and even faraway Venice. This location attracted along the time merchants of various origins, who profited from the diverse facilities granted by the rulers, the political context or the lack of local competition.
Just one hundred years later, in mid-16th century, mentions of incidents related to the judgment in Bucharest of cases involving Sephardic merchants (subjected to the jurisdiction of the Sephardic Grand Rabbi of Nicopole), indicate their presence in the capital, even, if such presence was often temporary and frequently influenced by political developments. It is only in the 18th century that one can speak about a stable Jewish community in Bucharest, as proven by the oldest tombstone found in the Jewish cemetery on Sevastopol St. (1716), which belonged to the community leader of the time, B. Mordehai. In fact, the first Jewish community to be recognized by the authorities was the Spanish Israelite congregation of Bucharest, in 1730, through a document issued by the Wallachian Prince Nicholas Mavrocordat to his counsellors Daniel de Fonseca and Mentes Bally.
In the beginning, Jews settled in the capital's centre, close to the commercial area, where they could easily exercise their trade or craftsmanship. It was here, in the Lipscani — St. George neighbourhoods, that the main exchange points were located and it was from here that Jews would later spread out in the entire city, particularly in the 19th century.”