New York, NY – Before World War II, the city of Yass (Iasi) was one of the largest in Romania. The more than 30,000 Jews of Yass represented almost one third of its population. Sadly, during the Holocaust, the Jews of Yass suffered a pogrom in June of 1941, in which more than 13,000 Jews were brutally murdered. Thereafter, the Jews of Yass were systematically murdered.
In 2010, a mass grave was discovered in the town of Popericani, near Yass. The general area is known to be the place of several massacres of Jews during the Holocaust and presently abuts a military domain. Romanian authorities immediately secured the area and allowed no entry. The remains of hundreds of bodies were unearthed and brought to laboratories for “forensic testing.” The laboratory work is required by law to determine whether a crime was committed and in preparation for prosecution, if possible. In addition to human remains, live munitions were found there as well. Several months have passed and the human remains have not been returned to their resting place.
After considerable diplomatic effort, a proclamation was issued in November of 2010, by the Rabbinical Board of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe headed by the world renowned Rabbi Elyakim Schlesinger of London, joined by Romanian Chief Rabbi Menachem Hacohen, calling upon relevant authorities to close their continuing investigations and return the body remains to the cemetery. The proclamation was signed by Rabbi E. Schlesinger, Rabbi A. D. Dunner, Rabbi A. Shachter, Rabbi C. M. Wosner, Rabbi J. Padwa chief Rabbi of London, Rabbi S. Low, Rabbi Z. Feldman, Rabbi B. Blum, and Rabbi G. Z. Gluck.
On Thursday, March 3, a delegation of Admas Kodesh met with the Honorable Marian Parjol, Consul General of Romania, at his offices in the Consulate General building in New York. The delegation was led by Rabbi Sholom Eliezer Teitelbaum, brother of the Satmar Grand Rebbe Aaron Teitelbaum and Rav of the 15th Avenue Satmar Beis Medrash in Boro Park. The meeting had the participation of Honorable Jules (Yitzchok) Fleischer, Member of the United States Presidents Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. In addition, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, Director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America; Rabbi Yoel Landau, Board Member of Admas Kodesh; and Rabbi Benzion Loeb, Satmar Dayan and Chairman of the Rabbinical Board of Admas Kodesh took part. Also present were Gary (Gershon) Schlesinger, Executive Board Chairman, United Jewish Community Advocacy Relations and Enrichment (UJCare) , and Moshe Vizel, Political Liason for the United Talmudical Academy School Systems of Satmar.
The Consul General warmly received the delegation and discussed the problem in detail, giving his assurances that he will endeavor to intercede with all the necessary levels of authority that have jurisdiction in the matter. Rabbi Teitelbaum shared that he had just returned from Romania together with his brother Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum leader of the worldwide Satmar-Siget dynasty, having been part of the rededication of the ohel (mausoleum) in the city of Siget where his forbears are buried. Rabbi Teitelbaum, together with hundreds of others, joined the Satmar Grand Rebbe in the start of rebuilding the ancestral home of the Rabbis of Siget as well as the renowned Siget Beis Medrash.
The delegation left the meeting optimistic that the office of the Romanian Consul General will exert every possible effort in ultimately having all the remains returned to the place of their burial.