There are 700 people in the Jewish community of Oradea (Or-AH-di-ah); all that remains of the 25,000 souls who lived, worked, and worshipped here before the war. It was the 2nd largest Jewish community in Romania, with 29 synagogues in the city. We visited one still remaining today with Emi, a new friend and kindred spirit Jane made contact with before leaving Australia. Emi took us first to see the park where the death trains departed, carrying adults and children to Auschwitz and other labor camps. Most had first been moved to a large ghetto which was surrounded by a tall stockade fence. Of these, 2500 returned at the end of the war, but only a small number remained here.
|Detail on home once owned by Jewish Families|
Like Jane's father Simon, Emi speaks both Hungarian and Romanian, reflecting the region's history. Simon was born near here, and as we visited the synagogue, built in the 19th century, we all wondered if he and his parents had also been there. In the short time we spent with Emi she described the work she does with her organization, TIKVAH (www.tikvah.ro) Describing the group as "united in diversity" she is dedicated to not just remembering all that happened to the people here, but also reminding people of the normalcy of their lives and the contributions that they made to the culture and society of prewar Oradea. She also wants to remember those, including parts of the Catholic community, who tried to help keep people alive.
|Emi and Jeanne contmplate humanity|
After our weighty morning we walked through the heart of the city, known as "Little Paris." We did a bit of shopping, and I was delighted to find Romania's equivalent of the Dollar Store! And a thrift shop.