In October 1999 Ethne Woldman, the Chief Executive of Jewish Care Scotland, accompanied a delegation from East Renfrewshire Council on a visit to Targu Mures.  She visited the Jewish community and was greatly distressed when she realised that the majority of people were unable to afford glasses, dentures and medicines.  Ethne gathered a group of people together to form a charity that would try to help.
The Targu Mures Trust was soon established and was awarded charitable status in record-breaking time in February 2000.  From the outset it was decided that trustees would meet absolutely all expenses and that the total of the money that was raised would be used for the benefit of the Targu Mures Jewish Community.  The Trustees are Colin Black, David Bishop, Ethne Woldman, Barry Adams-Strump, Steven Kayne and Stephen Gold. Sharon Barron is the Hon. Sec. and Michael Tenby is the Treasurer.  Scott Moncrieff act as pro bono auditors.  A number of others have become "Friends of the Trust" and have visited Targu Mures and helped with fundraising.


  • To meet the medical, dental, optical and mobility needs of those elderly Jewish people who live in and around Targu Mures.
  • To provide a comprehensive home care service for all who need it.


The Romanian Government

Romanian citizens do not qualify for an old-age pension automatically, nor do they have the safety net of a social security and national health system.  War veterans did receive free medicines until recently, but even these funds are now exhausted.

Jewish Aid Agencies

Romanian Jewry receives an annual grant from the Joint Distribution Committee.  This grant reduces by 5% each year and cannot meet the total Romanian need.  The Joint Distribution Committee took the decision to concentrate their funding in Romania on communities with a component of young people.  This decision left communities such as Targu Mures, comprising elderly and frail survivors, horribly exposed.  The funding that they do receive from Joint is for the upkeep of the community buildings and the cemetery and the provision of some medicines for the truly destitute.

Other aid agencies

There are many charities working in Romania.  They are mainly children's charities or others that are dedicated to specific projects.  None is helping the Jewish community of Targu Mures.


Trustees visited Targu Mures five times in the first year of the Trust.  The instability of the Romanian currency and the appalling extent of corruption in the wider Romanian society make regular funding and review trips a necessary feature of this project.

In January 2000 the trustees embarked on a hazardous, fact-finding trip in Arctic-like weather conditions.  They were deeply moved by what they saw: elderly people enduring appalling deprivation without complaint.  The Trust was helped on these early visits by Jewish students from Bucharest, who acted as interpreters.

An implementation party returned in May, armed with a development plan designed to improve matters before the next harsh winter.  They soon discovered that the leaders of the community had their own ways of working, realised that a different, more inclusive, approach was called for and the present consultative partnership was established.

A further visit took place in August, in heat that was as extreme as January's cold.  Budget targets were set and areas of activity were defined.  Gloria, a computer programmer from Targu Mures, was recommended to us as an interpreter.  Her sympathetic and sensitive help was warmly welcomed by all and she has become an invaluable member of our local team.

In October a potential major benefactor was taken for a short visit, so that he could endorse the project and recommend it to his fellow trustees.  He formed an instant rapport with the people that he met and has endorsed the project fully.

A routine trip took place in November.  This incorporated a successful pilot programme for the distribution of clothes.  
We are most grateful to WIZO for their generous donation of clothes from their annual clothes sale.


Local co-ordinator appointed

Susie, a local girl in her thirties, was appointed as co-ordinator of the project in May.  Much of the success of the project is due to Susie.  She has won the love and respect of the Jewish community and has worked tirelessly to get the project off the ground.  Currently, Susie is conducting a needs assessment exercise that will give us an accurate picture of the extent of the support that will be needed in the future.

Home care programme

Monica and Ibi were also appointed in May.  They are part-time home care assistants and the help that they offer ranges from washing, cleaning and shopping to arranging for telephone installation or utility or house repairs.  Over thirty homes are visited on a regular basis at present.

Medical programme

The community's most urgent need and constant anxiety is the provision of medicines.  Steven and Lee Kayne have now completed a detailed analysis of what is required.  The vagaries of Romanian medical practice made this a complex task.  Currently, 82 people receive medicines paid for by the Trust.  A supply of continence aids was also needed: some could be purchased locally and some have had to be taken out.

Dental programme

One of the very few members of the community in a position to be able to offer, rather than to receive, help is a surgeon and dentist, Dr Naftali.  He has conducted dental examinations of community members and has begun to treat acute cases.  More routine treatment will be given as soon as possible and as soon as funds allow.

Eyecare and hearing aids

Arrangements have been made with a local optician.  He has undertaken eye examinations and, as necessary, supplied spectacles.  Approximately $1,500 has been spent on this service and 50-60 people have been seen so far.  A widespread need for hearing aids has also been identified and must be addressed.

Mobility aids

East Renfrewshire's Director of Social Work, Dr Sue Ross, has maintained a close interest in the project from the beginning.  She recently donated a large number of zimmers and walking frames. These were taken to Targu Mures by those who visited in November.


The leaders of the community in Targu Mures were using a typewriter that dated back to the 1920s.  To their delight, we replaced this with a computer with Internet and e-mail access.  The elders of the community maintain enormously detailed records of what has been spent and what assistance has been offered. They see this as a matter of honour and take great pride in their meticulous accounting.


The Trust was funded originally by a small group of generous donors.  The programme is now well underway and is developing.  We need to develop our funding base accordingly.
Please help us to help the Jewish community of Targu Mures - click here to find out more.

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