Vatra Dornei is an old spa in the middle of the Carpathians. The traces of its glamourous past are still visible. This includes a magnificent synagogue. A colorful contrast is the surrounding countryside with its wild mountains. In Cârlibaba we visited a particularly poignant small Jewish cemetery.
We woke up under a blue sky. Spring has come overnight. Finally, I can use my analog camera. We used the morning to walk through Vatra Dornei. The faded splendor of the Austrian monarchy is visible in many places. Right next to our hotel, are the ruins of the former casino. The municipality is still looking for an investor who is willing to repair the building.
Two synagogues have been preserved in Vatra Dornei. The Tempel Synagogue in a pedestrian zone is an unadorned modern structure – the opposite of the old synagogue with its oriental decoration. The building has been renovated and shines in its former glory – perhaps the most beautiful synagogue I have seen so far in Bukovina. The Jews of Vatra Dornei had their place in society life of the glamourous spa.
The Jewish cemetery is located on the outskirts on a hill adjacent to the Christian cemetery. We found the gate locked, but a neighbor kept the key and opend for us. Large parts of the cemetery are overgrown with scrub. Easily accessible are the tombs of the postwar period – their number is surprisingly large. The cemetery does not seem to be very old. The oldest burial date I could find was from 1907.
We decided to go in the afternoon to the village of Cârlibaba. The road winds along a river through a beautiful mountain scenery. Cârlibaba is a nice village with lots of traditional wooden architecture – surrounded by green meadows and the cones of haystacks. Even here, the snow is already melting. We asked a few people for directions to the Jewish cemetery and were finally on the right way, then our car was stuck in the mud. It took a while before we moved it with the help of neighbors back to safe ground.
The Jewish cemetery of Cârlibaba is small – I counted about 80 grave stones – but it is especially beautiful. This is due to some great stone carvings, but also to the beautiful setting and the view of the mountains.
A neighbor who speaks a little German, complained to us that nobody cares for the cemetery. She had already asked ‘everywhere’, but nobody feels responsible. So she takes care that the cemetery is not overgrown. In fact, it is in good condition with a fence and short grass.
Today is my birthday, I’ve become 53 years old. I have experienced the excursion to Cârlibaba as a gift.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.