Monday, September 21, 2009

Romania -- Jewish cemetery in Gura Humorului

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I've begun to post some YouTube videos of Jewish cemeteries in northern Romania that I am documenting for my (Candle)sticks on Stone project, which examines the way that women are represented in Jewish tombstone art.

The first video is of the cemetery in Gura Humorului, a little town in the heart of the painted monastery country -- two wonderful medieval monasteries, Humor and Voronets, are nearby. To me, the beautiful Jewish tombstones are in perfect harmony with the wonderful paintings on the monastery walls: touriststs visit the monasteries, however, and few people set foot in the cemetery.


  1. Thanks for the great work and the excellent idea to post a video! Recently, I received a letter by Norman Manea, the famous Romanian, New York based writer. He and his wife did quite some research about Jewish cemeteries in Romania before they left the country. Mr Manea sent me a text published by his wife Cella in the "Revue Roumaine d'Histoire de l'Art" (1979 issue) about "Old Mosaic Funeral Stelas in the North of Moldavia". The text is wonderful and contains many pictures. Mrs Manea finishes her text with the following sentence: "If the special beauty of these relics deserves and rewards a study worth of it, we think that the first step taken on this line has at least the merit of calling people's attention to an insufficiently known anonymous work" (!). Mr Manea also wrote me that they took much more, unpublished material with themselves into exile.

  2. Hi Simon -- I would love to have a copy of that! Recently I have re-reading some of the material that I have on Jewish cemeteries in that part of Romania, as well as nearby parts of Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, etc. Like Monika Krajewska's "Tribe of Stones," Goberman's "Jewish Tombstones in Ukraine and Moldova," Saniu's book on Siret, etc. I also have a copy of Lajos Erdely's (poorly produced) book on old Jewish tombstone art, published in Bucharest in 1980, with a lot of Bucovina pictures. (The book was republished with more text, including in English, and with much, much better quality prints, in the 1990s in Budapest). The photos in these books capture many stones that have either disappeared, or that show signs of recent aging....though many are the same ones that you and I have photographed, too!

  3. Thanks RUTH for a revolutionary step.
    I am confident that your research must give us more valuable facts about Romanian cemeteries. I came through your web page and found it very informative.
    Really your work is very admirable...

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