2007 Trip to Botosani

I spent a week in Romania and I first went to visit Botosani. I took a domestic flight on Tarom from Bucharest to Iasi. The flight is on a small plane but is quite comfortable and takes about 50 minutes. The flight costs about $150 and you can book it online at www.tarom.ro You might even find a cheaper fare on Tarom for some specific flights but you should make sure that it is not more. The fare is shown in the new Romanian currency RON.

If you don't want to stop or visit Bucharest, there are direct flights to Iasi from Vienna on Austrian Airlines. I believe that there are similar direct flights from Vienna or Italy into Timisoara, Cluj, and Sibiu. A taxi from the Iasi airport into town costs about 17 RON or about $8. Hotel Unirea is a three star hotel and costs about $120 per day while Hotel Traian is a four star hotel at about $160 per day. Hotels are usually 10% less on weekends. If one plans to stay for an extended period in Iasi you might look at renting an apartment. They are usually half the price of a hotel. A word of advice: Do not bring American Express or other type of traveler checks. Very few banks honor them, and you will spend some time looking for a bank that honors them. Even in Bucharest, where there are many banks, very few banks accept traveler checks. I found that Transylvania Bank honors them, if you absolutely think that you need to have checks along. Also make sure that when you change money you use a bank that charges no commission. Most of the banks will indicate 0 commission, but there are some banks that also charge a hefty commission to change your money so make sure you look.

I personally did not spend much time in Iasi, but there are a lot of interesting places and things to do there. Iasi had the second largest Jewish community in Romania before the war. I took a bus from the Pecurari bus terminal in Iasi to Botosani. There are a few buses that leave daily to Botosani and the cost is 30 RON or about $13 for a round trip. It takes about 2-2.5 hours depending on how many stops it makes along the way.

In Botosani I stayed at Hotel Maria in the center of Botosani. It is a very nice three star hotel similar to a Hampton Inn in the states. It costs about $85 per night. I spent the most of my two days in Botosani doing research at the state archives in Botosani and visiting the Jewish cemetery. The Archives in Botosani are known as "Directia Judetului Botosani a Arhivelor Nationale" and is located at Strada V. Tomoroveanu. 9.

When I arrived at the archives, a soldier who is the guard there greeted me and asked me about my business there. He then requested my passport. Eventually, I was directed to a room where I told the person that I would like to find the death certificates of my relatives between 1873-1906. Initially I was told that I need to leave the information with them and they will request the registers and perform the search. However, after they realized that I do not need any documents notarized and that I am visiting for a very short time, they decided to let me do the research on my own. They were very accommodating and helpful. The scope of my research was quite large since I did not have specific dates of death but only ranges. They brought me 7 registers of death certificates per year with about 200 people listed in each register to research. There is no index for the death certificate registers. Unfortunately, since my research time was limited in Botosani I was only able to review the registers between 1873-1879. I did find the death certificate of my great-grandmother from 1878 but I was quite lucky. I did not do any other type of research there but one can look for marriage certificates which contain a lot of information, or one can look for birth certificates. I was told that looking for a birth certificate tends to be the easiest. Please remember that the archives are open for individual research on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 8:30 -4:00 Also, one can only request 10 registers per day to research. The people at the archives are very helpful and will even assist you in finding the right person. When you find a document make sure that all the details indicate a match. For example, when I was looking the for the death certificate of my great grandparents, I found documents with the same name but after reading the document it was for a child. This is why you especially need the help of the staff there since they can read the document, unless you also can read Romanian. If you find the document that you are looking for, you need to pay a special fee to get a copy. The archives has vital records from 1860 to 1900. If you need vital records after 1900 you need to go to the Town Hall.

I also visited the Jewish cemetery in Botosani and I am sorry to say that it quite neglected. Unless the graves are relatively recent, say in the last 50 years, chances are that a lot of overgrowth most probably hide the grave. There are cemetery ledgers compiled with deaths after 1906 that indicate the location of the grave, but only the caretaker knows where the spot is. Unfortunately, the overgrowth has been so dramatic that even the caretaker has difficulty locating the exact spot. For deaths prior to 1906 there are no ledgers and it is impossible to search for monuments. It is indeed a pity since I know that my great-grandparents and great-great grandparents are buried in Botosani after 1860's. The old cemetery in Botosani is about 300 years old but it is literally a jungle. In Botosani I was able to find a very nice helpful taxi driver who took me wherever and whenever I needed him. He would take me to the archives and then pick me up a few hours later. I would gladly recommend him to anyone who is interested.

Bruno Segal
Teaneck, NJ

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Last Updated on March 11, 2010