Romania: Restoration of Vandalized Bucharest Cemetery
(ISJM) Dr. Aurel Vainer, President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romanian (FedRom) reports that the graves at the Jewish cemetery at 162 Giurgiului Road in Bucharest, that were vandalized in October 2008 are being restored, thank to assistance from the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad. The cemetery is the the largest Jewish cemetery in Bucharest. The 131 damaged monuments were vandalized on h Simchat Torah two and half years ago.
Restoration by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania (FEDROM), is being supported by the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. The U.S. Government agency is providing $46,000 of the cost estimated at $53,000. FEDROM will provide the rest of the funds. The restoration began in April and is expected to be completed in August.
In a public statement The Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania expressed "its sincere thanks, and deep appreciation to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad – the donors, and particularly Member Larry Steinberg, who is providing $35,000 of the money –for such generous support. The Commission regularly carries out research and diplomatic advocacy on behalf of the protection and preservation of cultural monuments in more than twenty countries, and is especially active on behalf of sites of significance to ethnic and religious minorities, and the sites that have suffered due to historic and contemporary acts of intolerance. Funds to restoration projects come from private donors on an as needed basic. Commission members, appointed by the U.S. Congress and the President are encouraged to take an active role in fund raising for this work."
Vainer said “We, Jews of Romania, do believe that the project demonstrates rejection of intolerance, and is also a gesture of human solidarity, promotion of understanding, tolerance, and respect for Jewish heritage, as valuable part of the national and world heritage of all mankind.”
FedRom is responsible for over 1,000 Jewish cemeteries across the country. A small staff and limited funds makes the monitoring and maintenance of these far flung sites always difficult, and often impossible. Private funds are always needed for the work. Sadly, acts of violence and vandalism such as that of two years ago force a redirection of already limited resources.