In May, 2016, I spent ten days in Romania. This was my third trip to Romania.  Previously I had worked mostly in Bukowina, but this time, with the exception of follow-up visits to Siret and Radauti, I worked in Transylvania.  Based on what I had seen over the border in Ukraine in 2011, I did not anticipate finding large numbers of interesting tombstones and regrettably that proved to be the case.  What I did find was some of the more isolated cemeteries that I have encountered.  It seemed as though every one of them was located at the top of a steep hill accessible only by foot.  In a couple of instances I marveled at the effort that must have been required to transport the deceased to a final resting spot given the inaccessible nature of the terrain.  It was almost beyond belief that people had felt a need to locate the cemeteries where I found them.


On this trip I visited a number of cemeteries that were both quite isolated and contained very few stones, for example, twenty-five or substantially fewer.  I purposefully selected some of these locations to visit in order to ascertain the state of affairs.  Simply put, I cannot imagine a way in which the future will be kind to these locations since it is highly unlikely that either the will or the resources exist to preserve them.  In another generation or two they are likely to be completely lost.


As was the case during previous visits, I once again found diligent caretakers on duty in most places.  This year my guide had less work to do in convincing the gatekeepers to allow us entry; usually we simply asked and were granted access without reference to whether or not we had permission from Jewish authorities.  In at least two instances we found cemeteries that had apparently been secured by the Heritage Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries and which carried no local contact information with the result that there was no one on location from whom we could gain access.  I appreciate the need for security; however, a local contact would have been useful.


I did have an unusual experience in that in Ciceu Giurgeşti and in Dej  local people offered me water to wash my hands upon leaving the cemetery in accordance with Jewish custom. That is the first time that has happened in approximately 350 visits to cemeteries. The lady in Ciceu Giurgeşti must have been particularly attentive because the cemetery was some distance from her house, and she nevertheless met us to offer water.  I was appreciative of the courtesy of these two individuals and, upon reflection, amazed that these two instances were the first times I had been offered water in over a decade of visiting cemeteries.