The old Rezina cemetery doesn’t have any gates or people looking after it. It’s all in the open, overlooking the Dniester river and the (in)famous region of Transnistria, which self proclaimed an independent country and is not acknowledge by any other nation. When Moldova became independent in 1991, this region still wanted to have Russian “ties”, and after a civil war, it stated its own independency. Transnistria has a communist regime, its own money currency and stamps, not usable and recognized anywhere except for there. What Moldavians regret is that all industries of former Soviet Republic of Moldova, were in Transnistria, and once it separated from Moldova, it kept them all. So it’s a richer place than Moldova. Yes, you need a visa to get in, but nobody knows where to get it. When reading about it, it seemed pretty much a surreal place I’d love to visit. We didn’t go there, and this deserves a separate chapter.
Natasha mentioned she has never seen a cemetery in such a bad shape as this old one in Rezina. Most graves are partially broken, encrusted in the ground, torn, impossible to identify. The grass is tall, covering everything; it’s difficult to walk around. It all gives an odd charm to it, but this does not help us. Even if my great-grandparents had been buried there, there was no way to know. So we left to Oliscani, a bit mesmerized by the inevitability and power of time. Between the old stones and the sight of Transnistria.
There were about 15 thousand Jews in Rezina, today it’s 30 total.
My grandfather, Abram Moishe Tolpolar, was born in Oliscani, in the Soldanesti region. His parents were also born in Oliscani, a remote village in Northern Moldova. The tourist agent that provided us with the invitation to get the visa said Oliscani didn’t exist. Was it all part of our imagination? As far as I could understand, the Tolpolars came from there. Before that, I don’t know, maybe Poland, or even Spain. But Oliscani was the farthest reference in time of my ancestors. And all of a sudden I was taking a picture with my father and sister in the entrance of the village, where a sign with the writing “Oliscani”was standing. I was sure it existed.
Next: being in Oliscani and our quest for the Tolpolar grave.
Wish you all a great 2009.