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Orhei (Romanian), Orgieev (Russian), Orhaiv (Yiddish), Orgiejew (Polish)
Alternate Names:  Orgeev, Orheyev, Orkhey, Orheiu

1900: Orgieev/Bessarabia/Russian Empire
1930: Orhei/Basarabia/Romania
1950: Orgeyev/Moldovan SSR/Soviet Union
2000: Orhei/Orhei/Moldova




From Miriam Weiners' Collection

Moldova Flag       Moldova Flag     Moldova Flag      Moldova Flag   


Moldova Map

Orhei is located in the East-Central section of the country at 470 23' Latitude and 280 49' Longitude.  It is  41 Kilometers (26 miles) north of the capital city of Chisinau (Kishinev).  Some other good maps of Orhei, Moldova and the Bessarabian area are available.  A map showing the current Orhei area is available at Mapquest.  A 1993 political map of Moldova (after it became a country on its own) is in the University of Texas Map Library at Moldova 1993 Map.  FEEFHS also has an historical map of Bessarabia and the surrounding area as it was in 1882 at FEEFHS Bessarabia Map.



The best history of the town of Orhei can be found in the Orhei Yizkor Book.  Chapter 5 is titled "Orheyev and its Jewish Settlements in Ancient Times" and gives a detailed description of the town from the 1600's through the first half of the 1900's.  Find it on the Yizkor Book Page.

Wikipedia has a short description of Orhei which can be seen on the Wikipedia Page

A good history of Moldova was written by Betsy Gidwitz in 1998 - The Jews of Moldova

The 1911 Encyclopedia has a good description of Bessarabia at the Bessarabia Page

Jewish Moldova has a large description of the Jews of Moldova at Jewish Moldova and also has a very short section on Orhei under the "small towns" section.

World Statesman has pictures of every  flag that Moldova  has had in its history (and that is a lot).  It also has a very nice chronological listing of all major events in Moldova's history.  It can be found at the World Statesmen Page



Much of the information that follows, and all of the pictures of the cemetery, the Holocaust memorials and the Synagogue, is due to the generosity of two people who contacted me and volunteered to help support this effort.  Victor Palarie is a dental surgeon who lives in Chisinau; his father, Petru Palarie, is a retired Colonel of the Moldavan Army, an engineer, and currently Director of the Technical School in Orhei.  They spent numerous hours taking over 600 pictures including every page of the cemetery book, hundreds of cemetery gravestones, the Holocaust memorials, and the Synagogue.  They also spent a lot of time researching other information for me in support of this Shtetl Site.  Without their support there would be little information and few pictures on this site.  My thanks to them for their support can't be overstated.

I also have to express my thanks to Leslie Oberman of Australia and Claire Stuart of the United States for the work that they have done.  They helped me translate (from Russian script) the over 3000 entries in the Orhei cemetery book.  They were also the main contributors to the Bessarabia Duma List project (although not the only ones) in which over 128,000 names were translated from Russian Cyrillic to English.  Their unselfish dedication to these tasks is another reason why we are able to offer so much information about Orhei and Moldova.



The most important cemetery is the Jewish cemetery in Orhei.  The first burials probably occurred in the first half of the 18th century, making it one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the area.  Victor and Petru Palarie were able to locate a cemetery book in the one remaining Synagogue in Orhei.  They took pictures of each of the 150 pages in the book.  The names were written in Russian Script and the dates were in an odd combination of Gregorian Years with Hebrew days and months.  Over 3000 names were listed in this cemetery book.  A complete description of the cemetery book and a large number of pictures from the cemetery can be found on the Cemetery Main Page.  All of the names from the cemetery have been submitted to JOWBR and can be searched, but it is highly suggested that you read the Cemetery Main Page (link above) or the "Contents of the Database" information on JOWBR first.

Also, three cemeteries in the New York/New Jersey area have Orhei (Orgeyev) Landsmanshaftn sections.  I do not currently have any information about these sections.  If anyone is willing to take pictures of the gates and/or gravestones or get listings of the people buried in these sections it would be a great addition to this Shtetl Site (and possibly to JOWBR).  I am willing to do gravestone translation and submittal to JOWBR if someone can take the pictures of the gravestones.  If anyone is willing you can contact the  Shtetl Site Coordinator.  The three cemeteries that have Orgeyev landsmanshaftn areas are:

Beth Israel Memorial Park - Woodbridge, NJ
First Orgeiever Benevolent Society - Block 10B
United Orgayer Aid Society

Wellwood Cemetery - Pinelawn, Long Island, NY
Progressive Orgayever Aid Society - Block 23, Section 2

Old Montefiore Cemetery - St. Albans, Queens, NY
United Orgayever Aid Society - Block 16, Gate 514/SE & Block 56, Gate 412/E



Several memorials are located within the Jewish Cemetery in Orhei.  The main one is a beautiful large Holocaust Memorial with over 100 names inscribed on it.  There are also several smaller ones - one of them might not be a Holocaust memorial.  All of the names from these memorials have been added the the Jewish cemetery list and have been put on JOWBR.  In the Comments portion of the JOWBR cemetery entries it has been indicated which names are from the memorials since those people are not actually buried in the cemetery.  Pictures of these memorials can be found on the Holocaust Memorial Page.



A large number of Synagogues in Orhei in the early 1900's served the over 7000 Jews living in the city and surrounding area.  Today only one small Synagogue continues to serve the less than 100 Jews still remaining in the area.  In early 2008 the Rabbi of this Synagogue passed away and a new Rabbi has been installed.  A picture of the outside of the Synagogue and a few pictures of the inside can be seen on the Synagogue Page.



In 1959 former residents of Orhei, mainly living in Israel, wrote a remembrance book about their former Shtetl.  Orhevev be-vinyana u-be-hurbara (Orheyev Alive and Destroyed) was edited by Y. Spivak and published in Tel Aviv.  The entire book has been translated into English and has been put on the JewishGen Yizkor Book site.  Over 250 pictures from this book have also been placed on the JewishGen Yizkor Book site.  My gratitude to Marsha Kayser who supported me in the effort to have this book translated and who also translated all Yiddish portions.  Also many thanks to Jerrold Landau who did an excellent job of translating large portions of the Hebrew text.

The entire book should be read by every person who has any kind of attachment to Orhei (or anyone having family from the Bessarabia area).  It is a beautiful, although often sad, story about the former town of our ancestors and the people who lived (and often died) there.  The book can be found on the JewishGen Yizkor Book Site.  If you don't have time to read the whole book I highly recommend that you at least read the following sections:  Notes from the Project Coordinator, Index of Surnames and List of Figures (all found at the beginning of the book).



Few sources of information about our ancestors in Orhei exist.  The Yizkor book, JewishGen Yizkor Book Site, is one of the most important sources since it is a first-hand account by people who lived there.  Other sources of information include:

Bessarabia Duma List - This is a list of all eligible voters in Bessarabia in 1905 and 1906 - 128,000 names.  Most males over the age of 21 were eligible to vote in these elections and are listed.  There were 2900 names from Orhei in the 1905 listing and 2600 in the 1906 listing.  A full description of the Bessarabia Duma List can be found on JewishGen Databases at Duma List Description and the List can be searched as part of the All-Romanian Database.

Romania Business Directory - The 1924/25 Romania Business and Organizational Directory (Vol. 2) is online and can be easily searched.  Since Orhei was part of Romania between the Wars, this directory has a listing of all business owners in Orhei (and all of Moldova) in 1924-25 and is a source for locating ancestors.  Logan Kleinwaks has developed a very nice front-end searching mechanism for this directory and it can be found on his site at Historical Directories.

Routes To Roots - Miriam Weiner's Routes to Roots Foundation Site has information on some of the documents about Jewish Orhei residents held in the Kishinev and St. Petersburg Archives.  A listing can be found on her  Routes to Roots Site by searching for the town name of Orgeyev.

Progressive Orgayever Society - Very little is known about the Progressive Orgayever Society of New York.  However a librarian found three cards in a unrelated book and sent them to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island.  The JGS of Long Island contacted me and sent me a picture of these cards for inclusion on this Shtetl Site.

Orgayever Officers

The left card is the officers in 1934, the center card the officers in 1941 and the right card the officers in 1944.

Orhei Researchers - People who are researching their ancestors in Orhei are also a good source of information.  Over 50 people are listed on the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) who are researching close to 100 different Surnames from Orhei.  If you have not listed your ancestral surnames from Orhei on the JGFF I strongly urge you to do so immediately.  The Jewishgen Family Finder can be searched and updated at JGFF.


This section is for any stories, pictures or information related to Orhei that anyone wants to post.  If you have anything that would be appropriate for this section please contact the Shtetl Site Coordinator.  Currently there are two items in this section.

Myrna and Leonard Simon traveled to Orhei in 2005.  Myrna has been kind enough to write a short story about their travels there.  The story is on Myrna's Page along with several pictures selected from the group that they sent to me.  One picture is of Myrna & Leonard, their guide and their hosts in Orhei.  The others are of the area around the house of their hosts.

The second set of items are pictures of my family from Orhei (Orgeyev).  Between the years 1900 to 1935, my grandmother received postcards from Orgeyev with family pictures on the back.  The names of the people in almost all of the photos are known.  Hopefully someone will recognize a person in one of the photos or see a name that is from their family.  These photos can be seen on Terry's Family Page.

Compiled by Terry Lasky
Updated by TAL January 2017
Copyright 2001-2017 Terry Lasky

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