Treasure Trove: A look back of the Zionism that once flourished in Transylvania

At the end of the First World War, the region of Transylvania that was previously part of the Kingdom of Hungary was annexed to Romania. Transylvanian Jews, who primarily spoke Hungarian, felt no connection to their new country and turned to Zionism to replace their earlier Hungarian patriotism.

Anti-Jewish protests in the 1920s, perpetrated primarily by Romanian youth, led to the formation of Zionist youth groups including Hashomer Hatzair and Hanoar HatzioniThe newspaper Uj Kelet (New East), which was founded in 1918 and printed in the Transylvanian city of Cluj, became the primary outlet for disseminating Zionist ideology.

Zionist leader Dr. Haim Weissberg, who was one of the founders of the paper, also founded the National Jewish Union (whose joint letterhead with the Zionist Organization of Transylvania is this week’s Treasure).

The union had three objectives: reassertion of Jewish identity, promoting use of the Hebrew language, and preparation for immigration to Palestine. It launched cultural, educational and sports facilities to promote the new image of the Zionist Jew.

The publication of Uj Kelet was banned in 1940.  The paper resumed publication in Israel in 1948 as a Hungarian-language newspaper and continues to have an online presence.

Note from David:  I wrote this column months ago thinking it would be amusing to post a Zionist artifact from Transylvania before Halloween. It is not funny now after we have seen the real horrors of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. I decided to run it anyway as it demonstrates the passion for the Jewish homeland from all over the world (including Transylvania) before Israel’s creation.