Iuliu (Yehuda) Barasch

Date of birth: 1815 | Date of death: 1863

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Born in Brody in 1815, Julius Barasch received a traditional religious education, but after meeting two famous maskillim, Hirsh Mendel and Izkhak Erter, he decided to obtain a secular education as well. Barosch studied philosophy at Leipzig University in 1836, before transferring to study medicine in Berlin soon afterwards. He graduated in 1841. Barasch actively contributed articles to Jewish periodicals, representing the progressive views of Eastern European Jewry. The periodicals to which he contributed included Zion (which was published in Hebrew) and Sulamit (a German-language Jewish magazine). In 1841, he moved to Bucharest to work as a physician. He was appointed professor of natural sciences at the local college in 1851 and at the school of surgery in 1855, becoming the first Jew to lecture at a Romanian university. Barosch became famous for his Minunile naturei (“Wonders of Nature” published in 3 volumes in Romanian), which popularized science, and was  editor of  magazine Isis sau natura (Isis or Nature) from 1856 to 1869. In addition to this, Barasch was a contributor to the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums,  where he published a series of articles dedicated to the life of Jews in Galicia, Bukovyna and Moldova. In 1856, he also wrote Otsar Hokhmah, a modern philosophical and encyclopedic work in Hebrew. However, Barasch criticized Jews who rejected Judaism, Jewish culture and tradition in favor of searching for ways to integrate with other cultures, reflecting the problem of finding the limits of integration and cultural identity which deeply worried Jewish Haskalah preachers in the nineteenth century. Barasch passed away in 1863 in Bucharest and is remembered as a figure of the Romanian Haskalah.