Alexandru Lăpușneanu Street

The street got its name from Voivode Alexandru Lăpușneanu, the one who moved Moldavia’s capital form Suceava to Iași in 1564.

Until 1873, it was called “The Serbian Street”, when it became an alley of summer gardens, of romantic walks and of tradesmen, also being known as “the happiness street” among the locals. The crowdedness was due to the presence of pastry-cook’s shops (such as Swiss Tuffli), antiques and elegant shops, with quality products, most often brought from Lvov (Lemberg) or Leipzig (Lipsca). The fame of the area determined jewelers, tailors with luxury shops, brewers (Bragadiru) or perfumers to come and sell their products in “downtown”. Among the most expressive buildings of the street, was the one of the Walter family, built at the end of Lăpușneanu Street, on what is nowadays the Eminescu Square. The workshop of the French tailor Carol Walter was located on the first floor of the building, the ground floor being the mirror decorated bookshop of Haifler, a Jewish bookkeeper, who bound books for free. Later on, the place hosted the “Moldova” bookstore of Mina Ornștein, a Jewish woman who was selling drawing, writing and studying instruments, the main attractions being the typing machines. Nearby, the photo shops of Zaharia Weiss, Solo Rosenthal, Hartwig Chaland, L. Flachner have immortalized great personalities, along with the famous Hungarian photographer Nestor Heck who took Mihai Eminescu’s most famous picture. Towards 1860 the wine storehouse of David Bercu Finkelstein was very popular, being called “Papa Berl“ amongst friends, where the rooms smelled of muscadine and basil. On the ground floor of the Istrati House (today, the UAPR Art Galleries) a famous fashion shop of the Zilberstein sisters was open in the ‘30s. The Weinstein shop brought to Iași the famous music boxes and gramophones which delighted the locals. Between 1933 and 1939, across the street from the Corso garden, Cinema Roxi was opened by Moritz Marcovici. From the famous Jewish painter Jean Ackerman, who owned a famous antique shop in the 1940s, the tradition is passed on nowadays to Dumitru Grumăzescu, the most famous antiquarian of Iași. He knows the secrets of a city where Jews used to live and sends his guests into the romantic mood of the past.

Romanians who saved Jews

During the Pogrom, six locals have risked everything they had to save their Jewish friends, neighbors or colleagues. For their actions, the Yad Vashem institute in Israel offered them the title “Righteous among the Nations”.

Dr. Dumitru Beceanu – pharmacist, hid 20 people in the attic, while the army had occupied one of his rooms. Dr. Beceanu helped the Jewish hospital with food, money and medicine.

Elisabeta Nicopoi-Ștrul – textile worker, sheltered over 20 Jews in a storehouse. She was arrested and beaten while she was taking clothes and food to the Jews sent to forced labor.

Nora Pântea – jurist, hid six persons in her room. She stopped the patrols from entering her house, saying that the place had already been verified.

Grigore Profir – engineer, chief of Dacia mill. Hearing about the arresting and killing of Jews, he asked for more Jews at the mill. Beaten and threatened for protesting against their imprisonment, Profir still managed to save over 100 persons.

Constantin Simionescu – dean of the Iași Bar, refused firing Jewish lawyers. He rented an apartment in Iași and then in Bucharest for ten expelled Jews.

Mircea Petru G. Sion – lawyer, became a legal counsellor for the Jewish community in 1941, reducing or annulling anti-Semite sentences. He hid 18 Jews and freed more elders and ill people from forced labor.

On the route from the Train Station to the Yellow Ravine, two crossroads received the names “Righteous among Nations” Square and “Jewish Martyrs of the June 1941 Pogrom” Square.

Strada Alexandru Lăpușneanu, Iași
Photo by