After our Transnistria trip the day before, our group moved further north. We stayed over night in Bălţi and visited the local Jewish cemetery in the morning of 3 March. It is the biggest in the north of Moldova. After a detour to Alexandreni – east of Bălţi – we headed further to Lipcani and Briceni to visit the Jewish cemeteries there.
While Bălţi Jewish cemetery is due to a still present Jewish community well maintained, the cemeteries in Lipcani and Briceni are densly overgrown. Now, early in the year, the tombstones are still visible. But it will take only one or two months from now to let them disappear behind a green wall. Alexandreni cemetery – rarely visited – is situated close to a farm with all its advantages and disadvantages. To all these places I have been before, but my dear fellow travelers Marla, Jay, Iryna, Anna and Vasyl had not. So I don’t like to repeat myself and advice you to make use of the tags at the end of this post to get more images and information. Rather I would like to share with you a video. “Belz, Mayn Shtetele Belz”. The song about Bălţi was written by Alexander Olshanetsky and Jacob Jacobs in 1937 and was a hit in Poland and beyond.
For those, not familiar with Yiddish, here is a translation of the text.
When I recall my childhood,
I feel like I am having a dream.
how does the little house look,
which used to sparkle with lights?
Does the little tree grow which I planted long ago?
Beltz, my little town!
The little house where I spent my childhood!
The poor little room
Where I used to laugh with other children!
Every Shabes I would run to the river bank to play with
Other children under a little green tree.
Belz, my little town!
My little town where I had so many fine dreams!
More than a thousand words I could write, this song may illustrate what we lost. Nearly nothing is preserved of Jewish Bălţi and even of the whole town. The Jewish population was deported and murdered, the town destroyed in WW II and rebuilt in Soviet style. Only a cemetery and a song remain of its past.