By: Isidore Singer
Rumanian family which became prominent in the nineteenth century.Benjamin Schwarzfeld:
Rumanian educator and writer; father of Elias, Moses, and Wilhelm Schwarzfeld; born April, 1822; died at Jassy Nov. 27, 1896. After completing his Hebrew education he turned his attention to modern secular studies. From 1845 he contributed to the "Kokebe Yiẓḥaḳ" edited by E. Stern. His wedding, in 1848, deserves to be mentioned because of the fact that he was the first Rumanian Jew to appear under the bridal canopy in a frock coat and high silk hat instead of in thecustomary caftan and fur cap. The event aroused so great an excitement among the Orthodox, especially among the Ḥasidim, that the police were compelled to interfere to prevent public disturbances. Schwarzfeld started his career as a banker, and was the first to introduce fire insurance into Moldavia.
In spite of the opposition of the conservative element among the Rumanian Jews he opened in 1852, at his own expense, the first modern Jewish school. On account of this he was excommunicated, but, owing to his relations with various foreign consuls, the ban remained without any practical effect. He remained at the head of the school, which was conducted until 1857. In 1858 he prevailed upon the minister, Cantacuzino, to close the old-fashioned Jewish schools (ḥadarim) and compel the communities to appoint rabbis with a modern education. In 1860 he accepted the honorary position of inspector-general of the Jewish schools of Moldavia. Schwarzfeld was a continuous contributor to the Hebrew papers published in Rumania, and acted as correspondent for a number of foreign Jewish periodicals.
- E. Schwarzfeld, in Anuarul pentru Israelitzi, x. 108.
Rumanian historian and novelist; born March 7, 1855, at Jassy. He received his early education in the public schools of Jassy, and while still a student, between 1871 and 1873, contributed to the Jassy papers "Curierul de Jasi" and "Noul Curier Roman." In 1872 he was interested in the foundation of the "Vocca Aparatorului," which was started in behalf of the Jews. In May, 1874, Schwarzfeld founded in Jassy the "Revista Israelitica," in which he published his first Jewish novel, "Darascha." From 1874 to 1876 he studied medicine at the University of Bucharest, abandoning it later, however, to take up the study of law (LL.D. 1881). From 1877 to 1878 he edited the "Jüdischer Telegraf," a Yiddish daily; and after this had ceased publication he edited the Yiddish biweekly "Ha-Yoeẓ." In 1878 he published his first pamphlet, "Chestia Scoalelor Israelite si a Progresului Israelit in Romania," which was occasioned by a circular which the Alliance Israélite Universelle had issued calling for information regarding the state of education among the Rumanian Jews.
In 1881, on his return to Bucharest, he took charge of the paper "Fraternitatea." He was at this time one of the principal collaborators on the "Anuarul Pentru Israelitzi," founded by his brother Moses in 1877. In this he published, from 1884 to 1898, his numerous studies on the history of the Jews in Rumania. As vice-president of the "Fraternitatea" lodge, and later as secretary-general of the supreme council of the Jewish lodges of Rumania, Schwarzfeld prepared the ground for the B'nai B'rith. In 1885 he published, in behalf of coreligionists in the small towns and villages, the two pamphlets "Radu Porumbaru si Ispravile lui la Fabrica de Hartie din Bacau" (translated into German) and "Adeverul Asupra Revoltei de la Brusturoasa."
Schwarzfeld's activities having rendered him objectionable to the government, he was expelled Oct. 17, 1885, only forty-eight hours being given him to arrange his personal affairs. He went immediately to Paris. In 1886 he was appointed by Baron Maurice de Hirsch secretary of his private bureau of charity. When the Jewish Colonization Association was founded Schwarzfeld became its secretary-general; up to the death of Baroness Hirsch he acted as her secretary in the distribution of her charities. Schwarzfeld continued at Paris his literary activity in behalf of his Rumanian brethren, and he was the co-editor of the "Egalitatea," founded in 1890 in Bucharest by his brother. To the "American Jewish Year Book" for 5662 (1901-2) he contributed two essays: "The Jews of Rumania from the Earliest Time to the Present Day" and "The Situation of the Jews in Rumania Since the Berlin Treaty (1878)"; an essay on "The Jews of Moldavia at the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century" appeared in the "Jewish Quarterly Review," vol. xvi., and another entitled "Deux Episodes de l'Histoire des Juifs Roumains" in the "Revue des Etudes Juives," vol. xiii.
Schwarzfeld is the only Rumanian writer of note who has cultivated the specifically Jewish novel. To this class of literature belong his "Rabinul Facator de Minuni, Conte Populaire" (1883); "Bercu Batlen" (1890); "Gangavul," "Betzivul," "Prigonit de Soarta" (1895); "O Fata Batrana," "Unchiul Berisch," "Un Vagabond," "Schimschele Ghibor," "Judecata Poporana" (1896); and "Polcovniceasa" (1897). Most of these novels have been translated into Hebrew and published by Mebaschan. His "Les Juifs en Roumaine Depuis le Traité de Berlin" appeared under the pseudonym "Edmond Sincerus" (London, 1901).
Schwarzfeld also translated into Rumanian several novels of Leopold Kompert, Ludwig Philippson, M. Lehman, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, S. Kohn, and others; Isidore Loeb's article "Juifs"; Arsène Darmesteter's pamphlet on the Talmud; and the two lectures by Ernest Renan on Judaism.
- Anuarul pentru Israelitzi, ix. 156-158;
- Almanachul Israelit Ilustrat, 5664, p. 250;
- Calendarul Ziarului, 1886, Vocea Dreptatzei, pp. 24-26.
Rumanian writer; third son of Benjamin Schwarzfeld; born at Jassy Dec. 8, 1857. After studying medicine for a short time at Bucharest he turned his attention exclusively to literature, his first article appearing in 1877, in the "Revista Israelita," published by his brother Elias. In the same year he founded the "Calendarul Pentru Israelitzi," a Jewish literary year-book, the title of which was changed in the following year to "Anuarul Pentru Israelitzi." This publication, the last volume of which appeared in 1898, became the organ of the most eminent Jewish writers in Rumania; it contains a vast number of original essays on the history, folk-lore, and literature of the Rumanian Jews. In 1881 Schwarzfeld became the principal contributor, under the pseudonym "Ploesteanu," to the periodical "Fraternitatea," published by his brother Elias.
A special merit of Schwarzfeld's is the revival of one of the most original and popular figures of Rumanian Judaism, namely, Moses Cilibi, whose biography and literary remains he published under the title "Practica si Apropourile lui Cilibi Moise Vestitul din Tzara Romaneasca" (Crajova, 1883; 2d ed., Bucharest, 1901). After the expulsion of his brotherElias, and on account of the suspension by the government of the periodical "Fraternitatea," Schwarzfeld withdrew from political journalism and founded the Julius Barasch Historical Society, whose main purpose was to collect historical material concerning the Jews of Rumania.
Of the studies which were published by Schwarzfeld in the annals of the society the following deserve special mention: "Ochire Asupra Istoriei Evreilor in Romania dela Inceput Pana la Mijlocul Acestei Veac" (Bucharest, 1887); "Excursiuni Critice Asupra lstoriei Evreilor in Romania" (ib. 1888); "Monente din Istoria Evreilor in Romania" (ib. 1889). His "Poesile Populare, Colectia Alexandri" (Jassy, 1889) and "Vasile Alecsandri sau Mesterul Dregestrica si Aparatorii Sai" (Crajova, 1889) are contributions to general Rumanian literature. In 1890 Schwarzfeld founded the "Egalitatea," in Bucharest. He is an advocate of political Zionism and has been a delegate to several Zionist congresses.Wilhelm Schwarzfeld:
Rumanian author; second son of Benjamin Schwarzfeld; born at Jassy May 22, 1856; died at Bucharest Feb. 22, 1894. After receiving an education at Jassy he went to Bucharest to study for a short time at the Faculté des Lettres. He contributed frequently to the "Fraternitatea," "Propasirea," "Egalitatea," and "Anuarul Pentru Israelitzi," and took an active part in the foundation and development of the Julius Barasch Historical Society, for which he compiled a collection of inscriptions from the more important Jewish cemeteries of Rumania. He published a number of important historical and literary essays in the "Anuarul Pentru Israelitzi" (vols. xii., xiii., xv., xviii, and xviii.). His "Amintiri din Viatza Scolara" (1894) constitute a valuable contribution to the contemporaneous history of the Jews of Rumania.
- Anuarul Pentru Israelitzi, xvi. 224-228;
- Egalitatea, 1894, pp. 73-76.