Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Romania -- Botosani

Botosani. Entrance to old Jewish cemetery. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

A few months ago, I posted on the desecration of tombstones at the Jewish cemetery in Botosani, Romania. I visited the cemetery last week as part of my (Candle)sticks on Stone project to document the representation of women in Jewish tombstone art in northern Romania's Bucovina region.

The cemetery is vast, and though the newest section is well maintained (and still used by the small Jewish community) the rest of the cemetery is almost inpenetrable.

Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

It is in the newer section of the cemetery, just on the edge of the overgrown part, that the vandalism took place: a number of smashed and toppled stones still lie there.

Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

I had wanted to go back to Botosani because I had been so impressed by the distinctive carvings on the (men's) tombstones I had seen three years ago -- vigorous lions, stags and other animals carved in a style that was almost reminiscent of art deco! I had seen a number of these stones in a clearing, down a path from the newer section, and I wanted to see if the same artist/stone mason had also carved candlesticks on women's stones.

This time I found the path, but in three years, weeds, brush, bushes and even saplings have grown up, once again hiding many of the stones that had so impressed me and making it very difficult to take pictures!

Botosani. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

I did discover some extremely beautiful and evocative candlesticks -- quite different from those in other towns. But it was so dark and so overgrown that I didn't manage to get the images I had hoped for...Still...

Botosani. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber


  1. Hello Ruth, my compliments for your work. I have ancestors from Botosani and Siret and was wondering if you would be willing to share contacts who could help me find registers from there - and graves, of course. Thank you. Kind regards, Dana Dimitriu

  2. Hi Dana --

    Glad you enjoy the site. A few posts back I gave the email contact for a man in Botosani, Gustav Finkel, who does this.

  3. Hi Ruth

    great work. We'll order the Jewish Heritage Travel book. We've just returned from Romania on a Jewish Heritage tour and were astounded by the Jewish culture there. Plan to go back in a couple of years with our grandsons. We read some of your stuff before touring and it helped. We were so lucky to bond with Andrei Nicolau from Tours of Romania,

    He is so knowledgeable when it comes to Judaic culture and life.

    Thank you.

  4. Hello! This was forwarded to me by my cousin who is from Dorohoi. My grandmother, Rebecca Moscovitch (Grimberg) was born in Botosani along with her sisters, Brina or Brana and Renee. What can we do to assist in the re-building from the desecration and possibly pay someone to make the cemetery viewable?

    Also, I see your lecture series for the next year. Any plans to come to Florida or Los Angeles? thank you so much for sharing.

  5. I gave a couple talks in LA in September/October... I expect to be back there soon on a family visit, but do not have any lectures planned....

    As for Botosani...check back in this blog for the contact for Gustav Finkel. You can also contact the Federation of Jewish Communities in Bucharest. Contacts can be found here: