'Alexandru Safran, a Life of Struggle, a Ray of Light,' a book dedicated to this great personality of the Judaism in Romania and the world over, written by Professor Carol Iancu, PhD, of the Paul Valery University in Montpellier, was launched at the Grand Synagogue in Bucharest on Tuesday.
Published by the Hasefer Publishing House and translated by Ticu Goldstein, the 400-page book includes heartfelt references to the family, the boyhood, the years of intellectual training and the religious commitment of the great rabbi.
The book contains political articles and speeches made by Alexandru Safran (1910-2006) in the 1940s and reveals the rabbi's contribution to preventing the persecution of the Jewish population by the Antonescu and communist regimes as well as the expulsion of the rabbi from Romania.
The author also presents Alexandru Safran's contribution to the defence of Judaism and Israel, his struggle for Jewish-Christian rapprochement, his return to Romania after 1990 as well as references to the grand rabbi's religions and philosophical work.
Saying that he had spent weeks with Alexandru Safran in Geneva, Carol Iancu paid homage to 'the great combatant in the field of the Jewish-Christian dialogue and to the defender of the interests of the State of Israel.'
Esther Safran Starobinski and Avinoam Safran, the daughter and son of the grand rabbi, offered deeply moving recollections of the man and father Alexandru Safran as well as of philosopher and rabbi Safran.
Opening the above-mentioned event, Architect Serban Sturdza, president of the Architects' Order in Romania, presented a project on arranging the space behind the Grand Synagogue and on building a square and a memorial in the area.
Attending the event were Chairman of the Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities Aurel Vainer; officials of the Israeli Embassy in Bucharest; Chair of the Association of Romanian-Israeli Friendship Association and a former Romanian ambassador to Israel Mariana Stoica; official of the Roman-Catholic Archbishopric of Bucharest Cornel Damian; Vice Chairman of the Romanian Academy Dan Berindei; MPs Radu Campeanu and Norica Nicolai; Director of the Eli Wiesel National Holocaust Study Institute Mihai Ionescu; Director of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation Maria Toghina; leaders of local Romanian Jewish communities.
Born in 1911 to rabbi Bezalel Safran of Bacau, Alexandru Safran attended high school in his hometown and went to study at the Philosophy Faculty of the Mosaic Theology Institute of Vienna.
In 1934 he won a PhD degree and was made rabbi of the Mosaic Theology Institute and grand rabbi of the Israeli Consortium of Brussels. Upon returning to Romania, he succeeded his father as rabbi of the Jewish community of Bacau.
In 1940, Safran became chief rabbi of the Romanian Mosaic Faith as the world's youngest rabbi and won a seat in Romania's Parliament to represent the country's Jewish population.
During WWII he was the leader of the Jewish Resistance Committee of Romania and acknowledged as the staunchest defender of the Jewish interests of that time.
In 1947, Safran's resistance work won him the displeasure of Romania's communist regime, which expelled him the same year.
For his merits acknowledged in the Jewish world, Safran was made grand rabbi of the Jewish Community of Geneva in 1948.
The prestige enjoyed by rabbi Safran was the result of his management skills and his unparallelled scholarly, theological, philosophical, historical and literary talents.
He published over 200 works, studies, essays, articles and books that were translated in many languages and won him unanimous praise.
At the same time, he was a busy professor at various European, American and Israeli universities. Many studies have been written as a token of gratitude for his life and activity, including two homage books in Israel and Romania.
In 1997 chief rabbi of Switzerland Safran became an honorary member of the Romanian Academy. He died on July 28, 2006.