The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

The Kabbalah in Romania: A Historical Overview

The first evidence of Kabbalistic activity in the Romanian lands dates back to the 16th century. It started with the connection between Rabbi Joseph Caro (1488-1575) and the Wallachian Jews of Bucharest, followed by the reports of the Kabbalistic schools run by Rabbi Solomon ben Aroyo (ibn Aravi) (1549-1629) and Rabbi Nathan Neta Hanover (1620?-1683) in medieval Moldavia (at Iasi and Focsani respectively) and the Kabbalistic school run by Rabbi Aron Chorin (1766-1844) in Transylvania (at Arad). It continued with the influence exterted by Moldavian hesychasm on Baal Shem Tov`s thought during the time he spent in the Romanian Carpathians and the birth and development of the Hasidic courts and dynasties of Bukovina, Nothern Moldavia and Maramures (Bohush, Botoshan, Faltishan, Shtefanesht, Szatmar, Spinka, etc.) Modern Romania, too, witnessed a growing preoccupation with the Kabbalah, widely reflected in the local Jewish journals, which published anything from informative pieces to historical novels, in a perspective that evolved from antagonism to admiration. Not last and not in the least, the first half of the 20th century brought a revival of the Kabbalistic practices and schools, with several such initiatives attracting public attention. The presentation follows this long and complex history providing a comprehensive overview of its stages and of the outstanding cultural personalities who were invloved in it.