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Uncovering My Jewish Family History and Genealogy
My Grandmother: Amalia Rubin, Galati, Romania
August 2010

By Julian Tzvi Rubin

I was born in Galati, Romania in 1954. On 28 January 1962, at age 8, my family immigrated to Israel. In Romania I finished 1st grade and a part of the 2nd. Nevertheless, I posses a relatively good Romanian and have a lot of sympathy for this country, maybe because my childhood memories from Galati are of a happy child. (I know that not all Jews born in Romania feel the same for personal hardships there and the Holocaust). In 2009 I was granted the Romanian Citizenship and in 2010 my son Udi.

From early childhood I was told by my parents about my grandparents from Galati, Romania.

My grandfather, Joseph Rubin, that after him I'm named in Hebrew (my Jewish name), perished in the Holocaust. His family origins were probably from Spain. After arriving to Galati, Romania, in the first half of the 20th century he opened a fashion hat business and owned two retail shops. Around 1944, when Axis forces were driven out by the Red Army, he went on a business trip to Chernovitsi (Czernowitz, now Ukraine) and never come back. According to the period, he was probably kidnapped and murdered by the retreating Nazis or local collaborators, imprisoned by the arriving Red Army, or any other unknown reason.

On the other hand, my grandmother Amalia Rubin died and was buried at the Jewish cemetery of Galati in 1947. My cousin Amalia is called after her.

Amalia and Joseph Rubin, Galati, Romania, 1930s

Galati is a city in Moldavia, eastern Romania, the Capital City of Galati County on the banks of the Danube, very close to Braila. Population: 298,861 people; the seventh most populous city in Romania.

Jews were first mentioned in Galati in the 16th century. Pogroms were perpetrated against the Jews trough the 18th and 19th centuries in which synagogues were looted and Jewish houses and shops were destroyed and in some occasions Jews were also killed.

The Jewish population was 7,000 in 1841 and 20,000 in 1930 (20% of total population). Jewish artisans and merchants contributed considerably to the city's economic and commercial life and development. Before World War II the community owned synagogues, schools, a hospital, an orphanage and an old-age home.

Till 1920 Galati was the center of the Zionist movement in Romania. In 1926, the Zionist Revisionist Organization of Romania was founded here.

The Galati Jews were persecuted by the pro-Nazi Romanian government during WWII. The Jewish population was not totally destroyed during the Holocaust, but diminished through emigration. Today (2010), 250 Jews live in Galati, with a synagogue, a kosher restaurant and a neglected cemetery.

The Grave of Amalia Rubin

So, we (my sons Udi, Ron and me) decided to make the trip to Galati to try to visit Amalia Rubin's grave and also our two houses which I lived at and remembered as a child.

First of all, I phone called the Jewish community of Galati (+40236413662) and got immediately (bravo!) the exact cemetery location of Amalia's grave: sector 5, group3, line5, grave 21.

When we arrived at the cemetery's gate, an old woman welcomed us and after we paid a fee of 10 RON we were allowed inside and faced an neglected cemetery but promptly we were led to line 5.

To reach grave 21 was a mission almost impossible since a very thick vegetation engulfed the grave and its surroundings and we barely floundered our way to it crawling and getting stung and scratched all over our bodies.

The grave was in a very bad shape, almost destroyed, and the gravestone inscription was barely seen. After a little cleaning we had a little surprise. In Romanian, in Latin letters, the name was indeed AMALIA but in Hebrew her name was written as MALI (transliterated). Whereas AMALIA (transliterated) is an traditional Hebrew name, MALI. is not.

We paid for the grave restoration 500 RON and an additional 200 as tip, and emphasized our will that the grave should remain as much as possible close to the original. The shabby old inscription letters were cleaned and painted anew, but since the background was cracked and crumbling, we asked for a new marble plaque that will be placed along the old one (not instead) with more missing details inscribed like Amalia's birth date and her mother's name. The nice results could be seen below.

Amalia Rubin's grave before restoration at the Jewish cemetery of Galati, Romania
The neglected and almost erased gravestone inscription

Amalia Rubin's restored grave with the new marble plate in place but the more detailed inscription is still missing
The cleaned and repainted inscription

The Galati of My Childhood in Pictures
My first address in Galati on Street Braila 18. The house itself was demolished and only this adjacent building remained from then. In front is my childhood friend Dan Bumbar.
The University of Galati (Dunarea de Jos). My second address in Galati was on Str. Domniaska 74 (now 40), the main street of Galati. The house that I lived in was demolished and a new one was erected instead, and the prominent university building helped for orientation since it was located vis-a-vis my old home. I'm the figure in front of the building.
The Cinema building on Str. Universitatii (then Vlahuta) crossing Str. Domniaska were we used to watch movies as children and now it serves as a restaurant. This building was another indicator that we arrived at the right place since I remember clearly that it was located vis-a-vis the other side of our house.
That's the building on Str. Domniasca 40 which was build on the plot of our demolished old house.
My primary school in Galati (Now a high school. in Romanian: Scoala Gimnaziala Nr.24). In the front, my childhood friend Dan Bumbar and my son Udi.
"The ravine" (so we referred to it as children; in Romanian rapa) - large and very rich with trees and vegetation. We used to play here, as children, and especially we collected snails and brought them home in boxes. My father (Rubin Israel, died in 1994, Dimona, Israel) worked in a factory, a halva and biscuit manufacturer, located here.
The Brates lake in Galati, one of the biggest lakes of Romania. Here we used to play as children without getting the permission from our parents since it was a quite dangerous practice because the lake was surrounded by swampy soils.
The Danube, the Galati Coast: here we used to bath on holidays. In order to do this we had to cross the river. I remember that we crossed it sometimes with small shaky boats and it was a frightening experience.

סיפורים מצ'רנוביץ

השפה הסודית הדוד הרמן אמא'לה הפרוטזה המגבית

*Julian Tzvi Rubin is the Son of Erna Rubin

More about Erna Rubin

Ella Rubin Art Gallery - The Holocaust Mood

More about Ella Rubin and Her Art (Art-3000)
Erna Rubin's story from The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM)
Uncovering My Jewish Family History and Genealogy
The Ella Rubin Odyssey (Flickr)
Eulogy for Ella Rubin in Hebrew

For more about my family history and genealogy details click here

Editor and translator from Romanian: Tzvi Rubin
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