We decided to splurge on our last day in Bucharest on a private tour. Not really my idea but something to think about. Maybe even for the next couple of trips. We booked with Bucharest Jewish Heritage Private Tour and had an excellent morning with Silvana.
We started at the Choral Temple, an active synagogue and a copy of the Leopoldstädter Tempel. Quite a few cities copied this Viennese synagogue. The original was destroyed during the Kristallnacht in 1938. Inside we were greeted by the Gabbai who gave us and a couple of other visitors a quick introduction to Jewish history in Romania. Literally quick, I never met anyone who talked so fast.
Nowadays the Jewish population in Romania is around 6000. From the 350k who survived the war, the rest mass emigrated to Israel. The communist government demanded for each person leaving a substantial fee from the Israeli government. The fee depended on his or her education. Besides that they had to leave all valuables in Romania. Just think about this. These people survived the war and still they couldn’t leave of their own free well. And the wall only fell 30 years ago! Just imagine!
Thankfully Silvana came up with other things to do, so that wasn’t a problem. We walked around in the area and saw a couple of Bauhaus style buildings. As well as a Jewish theater which shows its plays in Yiddish.
Not far from the Jewish Quarter we took a cab and got off at at Ashkenazi Cemetery on Ion Mihalache. The cemetery reminded me a lot of the one in Währing, Vienna. Not from the size, by god the one in Bucharest is more like a park, but from its state of neglect. There is only so much volunteers can do. Eventually you need the government to step in and finance a project of this size. The first couple of graves are well tended but the further you walk the more it becomes an overgrown park. Which is beautiful and peaceful in its own way. Yours, Pollybert