Friday, December 12, 2008


We have a picture of my grandfather and his brother (Shlomi’s grandfather, Yeshaya) beside the grave of their parents, in 1930. It’s black and white, you can read the inscriptions, but we don’t know where the cemetery is. My great-grandparents, Meyer and Ene Tolpolar, harvested tobacco and had a grocery store in Oliscani. They were killed by their own employees, who wanted to rob them. According to my grandfather, the killers were arrested. In their graves it’s written in Yiddish: “Here resting in peace husband and his wife that were killed in their own house Enia-raisa, Efrayim's Daughter and Meyer, son of Chaim Tolpolar, that were buried on 6 January 1930”.
Victoria Stoiciu, a contact I made through the internet and born in Oliscani (but now lives in Bucharest), told me Jews from Oliscani used to be buried in Rezina, a village close by, and there never was a Jewish cemetery in Oliscani. So we headed to Rezina first, to try to find the grave.
The new cemetery in Rezina looks well kept, it’s partaken with the Catholic cemetery. Jewish people started to be buried there in the 50’s. Naum Cleinic, the head of the Rezina Jewish community, guided us through. We walked a little in the area, but couldn’t find any relatives. So we went to the old cemetery.

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.


Livald said...

I found about your blog as I was looking for information about how to do research in Floresti, Molova.
Though my wife's family has roots in Russia, I just found out that their grandparents got married in Floresti in 1946. Boris Zhuravski, the husband lost the major part of his family during the war and he escaped being an officer in the soviet army. But we have no idea where he was born or so. Our next step is to make contact with the Floresti administration. Do you have any idea on how we could get in touch with them ?
Thanks a lot for your blog wich is very very interesting.

Cassio Tolpolar said...

Hello Livald,

Thanks for reading the blog.

I heard about Floresti but didn't go there and don't know much about it. Unfortunately I'm not sure how to contact its administration, but it's possible to have somebody research documents about your family in the Chisinau National Archives. If you're interested in this, you can send me your e-mail and I'll give you more info.

Livald said...

Hello Cassio,
Thanks for writing back. You can reach me at
I appreciate your help.

Marcelo said...

Gracias familia Tolpolar:
Mi deseo es encontrar la tumba de mi bisabuelo Tzvi Kizhnerman or Kisnerman que fallecio en la Sinagoga de Rezina en Iom Kippur de 1884.
Marcelo Kisnerman