2004 Trip to Northern Romania

Organization of Immigrants from Dorohoi and Surroundings:

On the 19th and 20th of May, 2004 I toured Northeast Romania with the invaluable assistance of an English-speaking, Romanian Israeli guide. Together we succeeded in exploring 5 of the 6 towns and villages related to my family’s saga from ~1823 till the departure of my parents for the USA in 1899 and 1903. (Two other towns of importance to my family, Parlitie and Gutkovitz, I never located on the map.) Mileanca, the intended 6th town, was too far off the beaten path; all figured prominently in the biography of my grandmother, Rivka Eger/Buimovici. I have family who were either born, lived or died in these towns.

1. Dorohoi. I met Meir Simon, President of the Jewish Community. His records go back only to 1942. At the time he moved to Dorohoi in 1932 there were 11-15,000 Jews and 27 synagogues. Now there are 46 Jews and one synagogue. Seven males are available for religious services. Others are brought by wheel chair for the High Holidays. The last Jewish youngster is finishing high school; she will soon be going away to university.

With the help of Mr. Simon we were able to visit Dorohoi’s synagogue and two cemeteries. The older was in total disarray with illegible, leaning or toppled gravestones. In the 2nd conditions were generally much better. A caretaker showed us his registry book back to 1905 – Buimovicis to 1949 and also an Eger without a date. We located none of these stones.

2. Darabani. My mother, Malka Eger/Buimovici, was born here in 1887. To the best of my knowledge no Jews and no synagogue. It was a long ride to the cemetery outside the city over fields (or a walk of 10 min. fromthe caretaker’s home). It was surrounded by a wire fence with a long walk tothe gravesites. We found the caretaker (who sold us honey from herbeehives.) Parts were well kept with graves going back to 1910, without records.

3. Ibanesti. No Jews and no cemetery. The older outskirts available by a road meant for horse and wagon. Peasants invited us into their homes.

4. Botosani. The townspeople directed us to the very well kept cemetery. A small side gate was open. Avi found a caretaker who has a registry that goes back no further than 1900. We located the grave of my Bobie Rivka’s sister,Miriam Buimovici Leibovitz who died in 1946. On the back of her stone were details of her husband’s death in 1942 in Transnistria, a Romanian Fascist work camp.

5. Saveni. Birth place in 1888 of my father, Morris Chaimovitz. Data from various sources on the web indicated that there were no Jews, no synagogue and no cemetery, all wrong. First we found a boarded up very old synagogue with a wire-like Mogen Dovid on top of a dome. Its key was probably in the hands of a Jewish barber who along with another Jew was out for dental attention; neither could be found. Next door to the shul stood a 54-year-old woman who has lived in her house from birth. She said that her street was called “The Jews’ Street.” “All the Jews left for Palestine.” Both sides were lined with single story, metal-roofed attached houses painted different colors – no mezuzzas were apparent. Quite possibly the houses, except for the metal roofs, were of the vintage of my father’s early years.

And the cemetery? Residents led us to it. Avi went to a house past the left end of the wire fence and found the caretaker who opened the gate and showed us his registry dating after 1912 though he could not read earlier Hebrew dates. Again many stones were in disarray. I did find one Haim Srul Haimovitz.

Probably a more experienced genealogist would have accomplished more than I but I do have professional Romanian genealogists working on my searches.

I had written to the General Direction of the Romanian National Archives on 21/3/04 for permission to visit the Archives in Bucharest. I received permission by letter mailed 13/6/04, three weeks after I left Romania. (The Archives have been closed to researchers by the Romanian authorities.)

I recommend my guide and will supply details to anyone interested. With all my preparations for the trip it was he who established contact with Jews and found the cemeteries and their caretakers. His resourcefulness was meritorious. Also important, his driver was a professional, so vital as Romania’s roads are in a pitiful condition.

A word of caution for those on low cholesterol diets: bring special foods or relax and eat 2-4 eggs/day, cheese, butter, whole milk and non-kosher salami.

David Chamovitz

JewishGen ShtetLinks Romania SIG

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Last Updated on March 11, 2010