Friday, September 18, 2009

Romania: Ruth Ellen Gruber Reports from Botosani Cemetery

Romania: Ruth Ellen Gruber Reports from Botosani Cemetery
by Samuel D. Gruber

In the overgrown Jewish cemetery in Botosani, Romania, the lion is truly the king of the forest.
Photo: Ruth Ellen Gruber, September 2009

(ISJM) Last April, the Jewish cemetery in Botosani, Romania was terribly vandalized, with many gravestones smashed. Ruth Ellen Gruber recently revisited the site as part of trip to study (Candle)sticks on Stone," a look at women's gravestones in Romanian cemeteries.

You can read her report and see new photos here.

Ruth's visit coincides with a strong statement issued this past week by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania (FedRom) defending itself against charges made by many Haredi groups that FedRom is negligent in its care of cemeteries and other sites. FedRom makes the case that it presently has the responsibility to care for 88 synagogue buildings and 821 Jewish cemeteries and the logistical and financial difficulties involved in this task are overwhelming.

I can testify that despite mixed record on Jewish hertiage protection and care in the past, FedRom has in the past two years made a renewed and concerted effort to professionalize its approach. The task, however, is daunting. Romania is looking at how other countries are managing their cultural hertiage assets, but even with the best intentions and plans, the number of sites, the amount of accumulated maintenance and repair required, and the tiny budget makes even maintaining the status quo difficult.

I'll post this memo and write about the situation in Romania in an upcoming post.

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