Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Romania -- Jewish cemetery in Botosani Vandalized

I've just caught up with the news that the Jewish cemetery in Botosani, Romania was vandalized last month, and 24 tombstones were destroyed. The Bucharest Herald ran a graphic picture:

Photo: Bucharest Herald

From the picture, it seems as if the graves that were desecrated were in the most recent part of the cemetery.
According to the Romanian media, local police said that their initial investigation indicated that the desecration had been carried out by a group of seven youths.
“There are no signs that show it was a proof of anti-Semitism as there were no other signs or inscriptions. I think there were a few young persons under the influence of alcohol. It is a pity that the value and beauty of these old monuments were destroyed,” the local Jewish community president David Iosif told the media immediately after the attack.
The Romanian Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, meanwhile, issued a communique criticizing Romanian authorities for excluding any anti-Semite motivation when such incidents take place.

"As much as we would like to believe the official position, we can not ignore – taking into account all previous incidents - the fact that the Jewish centers are preferred targets of the 'vandals'."

I visited the Botosani cemetery in 2006. There are several sections -- the more modern section is still in use by the tiny Jewish community. The older part of this features gravestones with metal canopies.

Behind the modern section is an older, rather overgrown, section where tombstones feature extraordinarily vivid carvings of lions and other animals, many of them clearly by the same artist/stone mason.

Botosani Jewish cemetery. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

Next to this cemetery there is an even older cemetery, also with elaborately carved stones, but when I visited it was almost impossible to enter because of the vegetation.

Botosani has one of Romania's most important synagogues -- very plain on the outside but with gorgeous interior wall and ceiling paintings dating from the early 19th century and an extremely elaborate carved and painted Ark that arches into the sanctuary.


  1. Dear Ruth
    My great grandfather Israel (Strul) Haer/Haier came from Botosani to UK in 1909. I would be fascinated to visit Botosani to see the synagogue and cemetery-according to JewishGen website there is a Haier (Haia Haier) Block 1 Row 7 Number 49 in the cemetery there. Can you suggest a contact or agency that would help me organise a trip?
    Many thanks
    Steve Hyer

  2. Hi Ruth,

    Do you know of resources I can find on Jewish Grubers in Romania? My family lived in Galati.
    Dovid Gruber

  3. Hi Ruth

    I would like to know if they are some registration of dead jews or tombs in the jewish cemettery in BOTOSANI

  4. hello
    my family name is Modi Weidenfeld and I live in Israel. My great great gradfather, Yossef Weidenfeld, came to israel in the late 19th century and was from botosani. Can you please help me find about the family?
    thank you
    modi Weidenfeld

  5. Hi Edith
    there is a book and all the names in the cemetery are available at the jewish community center.