Introducing the Yeshiva of Kishinev School

Boys' Department:
Str. A. Sciusev, 5
Moldova, 2001


Girls' Department:
Str. Meniuc, 26
Moldova, 2009

The Jewish School in Chişinău which was known as the "Yeshiva of Kishinev" in the Republic of Moldova was founded in 1990, starting out in two little houses with eight pupils. A year later, the building that served as the Boys' School was rented from the Municipality of Chişinău (Kishinev) and in 1997, the property was bought back from the Municipality and once again came into Jewish ownership. (The building was first registered as a Jewish schoolhouse in 1886.) As needs grew, a larger building was required for the Girls' School, too, and their building was acquired in 1997. But it always stayed a small school, the number of pupils on the roll never ever growing to more than about forty. It was an independent, privately-run institution whose budget was financed by the American "Vaad l'Hatzolas Nidchei Yisroel" or "The Committee for the Rescue of Scattered Jewry."

The aims of the School (to quote from the Prospectus) were as follows:

To provide our children with the best education, both Jewish and secular, so that they shall be equipped to make their way in the world with confidence in themselves, with commitment to their Jewish heritage and tradition and with pride in their Jewishness; intellectually and emotionally well-balanced, that they shall be ready to take their place in a modern society and be prepared to serve their community; to train our children to conduct themselves conscientiously as observant Jews throughout their lives, to live their lives in keeping with the teachings and ethics of our Torah and to instil in them a sincere understanding, a genuine respect and true love for Torah scholarship and practice that will motivate them to themselves engage in further Torah study in Yeshiva and Seminary and indeed throughout their lives.

The School had its ups and downs: there were approximately a dozen different headmasters in that many years. Nevertheless, the School had some notable successes and indeed some of its pupils and graduates can be found today in Yeshivos and Seminaries and in Colleges of higher education in Eretz Yisroel and western Europe as well as the U S A and Canada and the United Kingdom. Some are now married and, thank G-d, are raising families in the true Jewish tradition.

But it is a matter of deep regret that the Yeshiva of Kishinev School no longer functions as a school at all and in fact has not done so for the last seven years or more. For reasons never disclosed to me (even to this day) my contract was not renewed and after floundering for a year or so after I left, both the Boys' and the Girls' Departments of the Yeshiva of Kishinev School closed.

For some years, it seems, there was precious little happening. About the only people in the School buildings were the maintenance and security staff. Then, a couple of years ago, a young couple, Reb Zalman Tishayev and his wife, came to Kishinev. They were there for about a year and then they left.

At present, Reb Yisroel Lifshitz and his wife and family are there. There is still no School, neither for boys nor for girls. Indeed, some time ago there was a rumour (which I have not been able to verify) that the Vaad l'Hatzolas Nidchei Yisroel was trying to sell the buildings but that the local authority objected to any sale saying that these buildings are the property of the Jewish community of Kishinev. I have heard that Reb Yisroel Lifshitz and his helpers try their level best to assemble a Minyan three times a day on Shabbos and even during the week (weather permitting) and they give Torah lessons to men and women and college students who are interested in learning about Judaism. This young couple, together with one or two others, bravely try to maintain Yiddishkeit in Kishinev. I was given to understand that in the past the Vaad arranged that there was also occasionally (once a week?) some sort of a telephone link-up with someone in Eretz Yisroel who gave a Shiur to those who wished to avail themselves of this. But, my informant tells me, nobody was able to say neither how many people actually ever listened to this Shiur nor how many times this has at all happened. To have come from a thriving two-site School which could have been the regeneration of the Jewish community of Kishinev to an occasional telephone link-up with someone in Eretz Yisroel and, at present, a few courageous people trying to keep a Minyan going — what a sad come-down!

This is all very upsetting to me because with the help of some very dedicated staff, we had been able to reverse the sad decline of the School and its future looked most promising.

Kishinev has a sizeable Jewish population. Estimates have varied between eight thousand and eleven or twelve thousand, though today those estimates are probably lower. Even so, it is clear that in Kishinev alone, there are undoubtedly enough Jewish children to fill a school and these children would benefit from a school which is run in accordance with Jewish tradition and practice. As things are at present, however, we have a city with a large Jewish population including hundreds of halachically Jewish children — and no Jewish school for them where they could learn about Torah and Mitzvos, where they can learn about their traditions and Jewish life, where they can learn about what it really means to be Jewish! It needs a dedicated person of rare forward vision to realize the potential of the children of Kishinev, to finance the re-establishment and rebuilding of the Yeshiva of Kishinev School — and it need not cost as much as one might imagine. The field is open, the opportunity is there, the future beckons. The children and community of the once-famous Kishinev waits for a noble redeemer to come forward and restore the Torah glory of the past, to rebuild the community of Kishinev.

With a lively school as the nucleus of a regenerated community, the Jewish community of Kishinev could be born again and indeed rise to prominence as in times past.

This website is a symbol of the hope that one day the Yeshiva of Kishinev School will once again take an active part in the revival of the once-famous Jewish community of Kishinev and rekindle the spirit of Torah and Yiddishkeit in all the Jews of Moldova.

O Y Baddiel
Past Headmaster

Summer 2010

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