Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lions of Judah

Thursday, 7 June 2012
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 ( 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
With this in mind, we made a stop at the Catholic cathedral, where the bishop at the time created predated baptismal records for some of the Jewish children.  As we approached the church, bells rang out, and we spent a few moments listening to organ and choir singing.  We wish we could have spent more time with Emi, but she was on her way to a distant village to make a presentation.  If she looks really tired in the picture, it's because she is passionate about what she does and gets little rest.

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.


  1. I miss reading your writing ...really great your opening your journal to n miss you keep it up I look fwd to reading the next entry

  2. Good to see that you're keeping the dream alive... dollar stores of the world unite!