Friday, October 29, 2010


Sometime in March this year I received an e-mail from a Swiss diplomat posted in Bucharest who is extremely interested in Eastern European Jewish history, especially old abandoned Jewish cemeteries. Simon Geissbühler even published books about the subject. He had found this blog and contacted me with a few questions about Moldova, his next destination. It was then that we initiated our e-mail exchange about, amongst many other things, Vadul Rascov.

Simon heard of the city for the first time in this blog and ended up going there. His descriptions just made me more curious about it, since it’s the place where my great-grandparents are buried.

Here are a few words from Simon:
"I'm back from Moldova. We enjoyed the stay there a lot. The highlight of our visit was the Jewish cemetery of Vadul-Rascov. I have visited dozens of Jewish cemeteries before for my research, but Vadul-Rascov beat everything.
…we turned onto to terrible dirt roads to Vadul-Rascov. I have a good car, otherwise it is not advisable to drive there... A villager showed us the cemetery. The villager told us that there are almost never visitors who come to see the cemetery in Vadul-Rascov. Between October and March it is almost impossible to even reach the village. (If you have a horse, you can make it...). As it was already quite late (approximately 5 PM), we couldn't stay for a long time. I just tried to take as many pictures as possible and suck up the unique atmosphere."

And here are excerpts of his very well written paper "Rediscovering Yiddishland in Romania: Bucecea, Mihăileni, Vadul-Rashkov, Carei", presented at the Yiddish(er)Velt Festival 2010 in Bucharest on September 3 2010:

There is only scarce information about Jewish Vadul-Raşcov. Vadul-Rashkov was “a typical Bessarabian shtetl” with a majority Jewish population. In 1930, there were nearly 2,000 Jews living here. The Yiddish writer Ikhil Shraibman was born here. Aged 93, he died in 2005 in Chişinau, “obscure and underappreciated.” Shraibman created the literary Vadul-Raşcov, a poor Jewish shtetl, “unlucky in everything”, and a powerful “symbolic landscape.”

I was unable to find any definite information about Vadul-Rashkov during the Holocaust. But it is certain that a few Jews survived and settled again in Vadul-Raşcov. However, there are no Jews left in the village today. The Jewish cemetery is one of the most impressive you can find in Eastern Europe. It is incredible that it is neither on the list of the International Jewish Cemetery Project nor on the one of Lo Tishkach.

Like in other regions of Eastern Europe, the picture of Yiddishland in Moldavia, Bessarabia and Northern Transylvania is one of death and extinction. The preservation of what small evidence of the Jewish presence in these parts of Romania and the Republic of Moldova is left must be the highest priority. Not everything is lost yet; there are still wonderful, magical places of Jewish heritage. These synagogues and Jewish cemeteries form together with the Yiddish language, the literature and the music the last traces of Yiddishland. We do not need to build new, costly, architecturally sophisticated memorials. The memorials are already there: the
Jewish cemeteries and the synagogues. They are powerful and real.


FABIO said...

this is so cool, primo!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Cassio,

I'm wondering if you might grant permission to use some of these photos with an upcoming article in the Forward newspaper ( We're writing about overlooked Jewish travel destinations around the globe, and the Jewish cemetery at Vadul-Rashkov is on our list.

If you'd be interested in having one of your photos published (credited to you of course), please e-mail me at



Alex said...

If you want to have a confortable stay in Vadul-Rascov or Rascov to discover jewish cemitery, there is a very cheap and good quality guest houses there: