Otaci’s Jewish Cemetery

We left Moldova’s capital Chişinău in the morning of May 23, 2018, and headed north towards the border to Ukraine. Before border crossing we had a stop in the town of Otaci which was known as a transit point for deportees to the Romanian camps and ghettos in Transnistria during World War II. What is often failed to see, is that Otaci looks back on a long Jewish history. The cemetery in the nearby village of Vălcineţ is a reminder.

The Jewish cemetery of Vălcineţ is one of the best preserved in the region. Natasha’s house is situated directly at the cemetery gate and a watch dog barks as soon as somebody comes close. The elder lady is the keeper of the place – she keeps grass and other vegetation short and guards the cemetery.

While most of the tombstones are from late 19th century or even younger there is also an old part with stones dating back to the 18th century – surrounded by an characteristic earthen rampart. Now, in spring the place is beautiful with its fresh grass, herbs and blooming flowers. This is how a Jewish cemetery should look like.

In the late afternoon we crossed the border to Ukraine and stayed over night in Mohyliv-Podilskyi. The last two days of our journey were now in front of us.

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