The Asmonean (August 24, 1855)

The present position of the Jews in the two Danubian Principalities––(Moldavia and Valachia).

Though no agriculturists are to be found amongst the Jews in Moldavia (for instance at Bukowina), a good many of them live distributed in the agricultural districts where they are inn-keepers. I do not know whether the law permits this practice or whether it is only tolerated – be this as it may, the traveler is benefited by it; inasmuch as traveling in Moldavia is much less inconvenient than in Valachia or in the villages, and the Jews can find that accommodation in Moldavia which they cannot in Valachia, as in the latter there are no Jews to be seen. I do not know whether it is prohibited in Valachia, but I think that this circumstance is rather the result of the proportionally small number of Jews in Valachia, in consequence of which few, if any, would think of establishing themselves in the country to open Casher-Inns, as they would hardly have any customers owing to the very small number of Jewish travelers visiting Valachia. The Jewish country inn-keeper in Moldavia, is, with all his egotism, nevertheless a martyr to the general good; because the profits which he derives from his business are more than balanced by the constant fear and apprehension by which he is haunted, and which arises from the presence of the numerous bands of robbers in that country; he is in constant exposure to the danger of being attacked in the middle of the night, and even in the day-time, and of being robbed and even murdered. The terrible sword of Damocles which is always suspended over their head, is enough to imbitter the pleasure which he might derive from making money; and it is one of the noble features of ancient Judaism so fertile in sacrifices, that its orthodox partisans would rather expose themselves to a great danger, than that their co-religionists should be exposed to the temptation during a long journey, of eating forbidden meat under the roof of a non-Israelite. As his reward, therefore, when assassinated by brigands, his son when called to the Sepher is titled Ben hakadosh (son of the Saint). It will, we think, be admitted that the reward is by no means proportioned to the sacrifice.

The Jews are not heavily taxed by the government in the Principalities. Every Rajo, whether born in the country or naturalized, pays an annual import of about six dollars. Beyond this there is no special import payable by the Jews as Jews, because the extra duty paid on Casher meat, comprised in the price of the same, serves to meet the expenses of the community itself: such as the payment of salaries to Rabbis, Slaughterers, charitable maintenance of the poor, etc. However, hitherto, the Jews have paid in the Principalities (and particularly in Valachia,) to the government a sort of duty as an indemnity for the exemption of military service, [a]nd no Jews have been seen in the militia, though within the last few years they can enter the army. If they were exempt from serving in the militia, it was because the character of that body was purely national; neither the Greeks nor the Germans were admissible into that body, though they are numerous in that country; on the other hand, the government had taken into consideration that in a country not abounding in strong arms, nor in either commercial or industrial resources, every man able to work withdrawn from such a country, beyond the number absolutely necessary, could not act otherwise than injurious to the interests of that country. It was reserved for our time to see the Jews drafted into the army of Russia, to compel them to shed their blood in defence and honor of —the orthodox Greek Church.

Foreign Jews residing in the Principalities are as foreigners, generally under the protection and jurisdiction of the Consuls of the Power, whose subjects they are. They do not pay any special tax to the government, and are obliged (and that likewise, not till within the last few years,) to renew from time to time their national passports; or if their descendants should have been long settled in the Principalities (without however having being naturalized), so that they were born in the country, as foreign subjects, the Ambassador of their nation as Constantinople, sends them a certificate for three years, for which they pay a trifling certificate or patent duty to their Consul.

As regards their jurisdiction, subjects and foreigners, (Jews and Christians called Sardits [i.e., Sudits/Sudiți]) they are exclusively under their consuls. The government of the country cannot imprison any Sardit, and still less inflict any other punishment; their consuls must be applied to, and these must be requested to seize the culprit and see him sent out of the country. A law suit between a rajo and a sardit is brought before the tribunals of the country, but the Dragoman (interpreter) of the consulate of the Sardit must attend the proceedings in court, and point out and defend the rights of his compatriots. When two Sardits of two different consulates are engaged in a law suit, it is submitted to the two consuls; the government does not meddle in [t]he matter. The Chambers of Commerce, only established during the last few years in the principal cities, have the privilege of protesting Bills of Exchange, etc. and of taking cognizance of commercial disputes, whether the parties interested be Rajos or Sardits.

When a Sardit commits a crime in the principalities, the inquiry and the sentence must take place in the presence of the Dragoman of his nation at the tribunal of the country; after which the delinquent is handed over to his consul to receive in his own country the punishment to which he has been sentenced. This protection of central authority, founded upon anterior capitulations of the European Powers with the Porte to protect their subjects against Turkish justice, was under the circumstances in which Turkish administration existed at the time, a great benefit, and might be useful even at present in Moldavia, for instance, especially as regards foreign Jews living there; a Doroban cannot take hold of them by the collar, nor either by the beard or the peasse, (the long locks of hair which hang from the head down over the ears) to drag him to the hadgie (police), as is often practiced with Rajos of the same country. In reality the Sardit is more regarded in the East than the Rajo.