Synagogue in Suceava, Romania




Entrance, Synagogue in Suceava, Romania




Plaque above synagogue door, Suceava, Romania




Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery




Gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Desecrated gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Desecrated gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Desecrated gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery




Gravestone, Suceava Jewish cemetery




Gravestones, Suceava Jewish cemetery




Suceava Jewish cemetery, Romania




Roma family, Suceava, Romania



SUCEAVA

...Walking between concrete apartments and shops in the centre of a block, coming out on Str. V Alecsandri, and see some Hebrew above the door of a squat cream building surrounded by a fence and small trees. According to the plaque over the door, it was built in 1870. It has a Star of David motif worked into the security grill over the door, but apart from that is a plain building.

Suceava has one of the earliest Jewish settlements, already in place at the beginning of the 16th century. Later, in 1761, Moldavian authorities and local landowners invited a further wave of Jewish immigrants from Poland to settle after wars had taken their toll on the town. Before WW2, eighteen synagogues and small Hassidic prayer rooms were to be found in the city, but this is the sole remaining, the others having been demolished during Ceaucescu’s urban renewal programme. The last was demolished in 1986.

The restoration of the remaining schul on Str. V Alecsandri was finished in 1991. The guidebook reveals the colourful interior: its simple boxlike interior is brightly painted with biblical and symbolic scenes and imaginary landscapes. The lofty ceiling is painted deep sky blue and at its corners are splendid representations of scriptual beasts: the lion, eagle, tiger and stag.

On the walls are zodiac symbols representing the months of the year, as well as symbolic representations of the Tribes of Israel and dreamlike views of Jerusalem. Little windows of peddle glass enclose the womens’ gallery. There is a central bimah surrounded by a wrought iron fence facing a small but elaborately carved Aron ha Kodesh surmounted by gilded lions.

The Jewish population in Suceava is now only a couple hundred people. I then go searching for the cemetery, which may date as far back as the 1500s, one of the oldest in Moldavia. I find a very genial taxi driver who knows the way, and directs me to the entrance, via the scruffy little farmyard of an elderly peasant woman. She’s having a nap when I arrive, but speaks to me as I leave.

The grass is long and wet with dew and lilac-blue wild flowers are scattered around. To the left is an area of woods, quite dense with graves, and to the right, a grassy slope down to an area of storerooms for a collective farm, with cultivated fields rising up the hill opposite, topped by the half-built silhouette of a new church.

The meadow is dotted with old graves, some very old, many on a lean, and some half buried in the earth. The old lady’s chickens rummage around at will. The majority of graves are in among the trees. There is an area which appears to have been used by people living rough, with litter and an area of burnt wood and scorched tombstones. Further into the woods there are many graves featuring traces of colour, as well as a few with antisemitic grafitti scrawled on them.

I leave about 1600, after over an hour exploring the cemetery. The old lady comes out and we talk for a while in German. She is very interested in any visitors that come, but I don’t think she’s disturbed very often. She waves me goodbye from her picket gate as I head up the hill.

At the top of the street [Str. Stefan Tomas] the road is blocked by a horse and cart. A Roma couple with two little ragamuffins on board. They ask if I can spare any money and I say no, but would they like some jerseys. I pull the two I have remaining in my bag out, and their eyes light up. Fortunately the father, Elisei, speaks German. It turns out that they have ten children in all, and live in a rural community outside Suceava.

One of the two five year olds already has his jersey on, the other little fellow clutching his tightly. I explain I have another six jerseys back at my hotel which they can have, if they will wait for me. Instead they offer to take me back on the cart, laying down a piece of cloth for me to sit on. The horse trotting lightly through the streets, the long cart swaying gently, and parking across the road from the hotel, to await the delivery.



Synagogue Index




Shadows Homepage:

../W-icons/hourglas_thm.jpg