A rainy day in Suceava. Despite cold and wetness, we decided to explore the traces of the Jewish past of the city today. Five Jewish cemeteries are preserved. We tried to find them – mostly successful.
Today is our first real day of exploring during this trip. The day started with a nice Easter market near our hotel – Orthodox Easter is a week later this year than Catholic and Protestant. Easter in Bukovina includes hand-painted eggs, which one can buy in Suceava on the market. A border separates the Romanian part of Bukovina from the Ukrainian one – but the traditional patterns of folk art are the same on both sides. Several friends had asked me to bring them eggs and I can say I have fulfilled this mission.
We picked up a rental car and went in search of the cemeteries in Suceava and the northern suburbs. The two cemeteries in Suceava are easy to find – even in our tourist map they are listed. However, at the old cemetery we experienced the first disappointment; it is surrounded and by a high wall and the gate was closed. Only from a few spots we could have a look inside.
The new Jewish cemetery is located a bit further from the city center. My hope, the surrounding fence could be overcome as easy as in cemeteries in Ukraine, proved to be wrong. Finally we saw a sign that indicated the opening hours – we have a second chance tomorrow. The local Jewish cemeteries are well protected – good for their preservation, bad for visitors.
More Jewish cemeteries are in Burdujani and Itcani – formerly independent communities, today suburbs of Suceava. Our first attempt with an address from the internet proved to be a failure. At least we were glad to have moved our car out of the deep mud and have returned to the main road. At the gate of the Christian cemetery an auto mechanic has his workshop. I asked him for directions; he jumped in his car and called us to follow him. After a few minutes we stood in front of the New Jewish cemetery of Burdujani and thanked our helper. “New” means, the cemetery was founded in 1866 – an Austrian law forced all denominations to move the cemeteries into the outskirts of cities and towns. The New Jewish cemetery in Burdujani is well protected, but at least one can have a look over the wall. The Old cemetery, we could not find despite repeated questions.
The Jewish cemetery in Itcani, we found easily. I asked in a pharmacy at the main road and got an accurate description in fluent English. After a few minutes we reached our destination. This cemetery is also inaccessible, but good to oversee from the outside. Next to the grave stones a farmhouse with fields forms a strange contrast. A sleepy dog is guarding the ground. The rain had not stoped throughout the day. We were wet and our shoes crusted with mud. We needed dry clothes, a warm meal and time to talk about today.
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How amazing it is to see this part of history/ Jewish history frozen in time.
Christian, and friends, you are doing a favor/ service for the entire world’s memory. How touching it must have been to walk around town at Easter time
Christian, your photos are, as always, a treat and the accompanying commentary a pleasure to read. Looking forward to the next installment.
Be well and safe travels.