Saturday, November 6, 2010

Romania/Ukraine/Moldova -- New Book by Simon Geissbuehler

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

The Swiss diplomat Simon Geissbuehler, who has just completed a posting in Bucharest (and moved on to a new one in Warsaw), has published another book on Jewish traces in Eastern Europe. This one is called "Like Shells on a Shore: Synagogues and Jewish Cemeteries of Northern Moldavia" -- it is a slim monograph, essentially a travelogue that  documents journeys that Simon took through neighboring parts of today's northern Romania, Ukraine and Moldova, mostly in an area demarcated by the Siret and Dniester rivers. An abbreviated account can be viewed online HERE.

Simon documents the Jewish sites her finds in the region, mainly synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, but he also gives thoughtful views on the nature of heritage, Jewish heritage and memory in these places -- memory that is fast receding if not already extinguished. He reluctantly concludes that there is little will or desire there to remember the destroyed Jewish world preserve its physical relics.

The most striking places that Simon documents in his book are the huge abandoned Jewish cemetery outside the remote village of Vadul Raskov, Moldova on the bank of the Dniester -- also documented in words and images in the Moldova Impressions blog

Photo: Moldova Impressions blog
-- and the ruins of a magnificent 18th century synagogue at Raskov,  just across the river, in the self-proclaimed state of Transnistria.
Photo by Sergey Bulanov, at

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