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Moldova

Exploring the Jewish History of Balti, Moldova

Monument in Bălţi in memory of the Holocaust victims

Monument in Bălţi in memory of the Holocaust victims

Monument in Bălţi in memory of the Holocaust victims from the Kishinev ghetto

Monument in Bălţi in memory of the Holocaust victims from the Kishinev ghetto

Last Sunday, I set out with a few friends to find the Jewish cemetery in Balti. There is a long history of Judaism in Balti. As of the end of the 19th century, more than 10,000 jews, lived in Balti; meaning that over half the city’s total population was jewish.  Yad Vashem (the Israeli holocaust museum) has a great history of the jewish community in Balti, which can be found here and is definitely worth a read.

It took us about two hours to find the cemetery, but it was worth the hike. The cemetery clearly is no longer cared for and would be almost impossible to get to if the hills weren’t covered in a blanket of snow. The view of the city from the cemetery was awesome and seeing the graves was a great look into the history of Balti’s jewish community. Most of the graves were from the end of the 18th century and all were from pre-WWII.

During WWII many of the jews from this area ended up in camps, such as the one in Chisinau or fled. The majority of the jewish population, however did not exit the area until after the fall of the Soviet Union. One Moldovan friend here tells me the story about his mother’s best friend as a child, who was jewish, and who was there one day and then a week after the USSR fell, moved to Israel. There is currently, still a small jewish population in Balti and a synagogue.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Walking the train tracks to the cemetary

Walking the train tracks to the cemetery

Some of the graves, most were from the last 1800s and all were pre-WWII.

Some of the graves, most were from the last 1800s and all were pre-WWII.

Must have been in fashion to have this type of fake tree tombstone, because there were a lot of these.

Must have been in fashion to have this type of fake tree tombstone, because there were a lot of these.

Walking back into the city

Walking back into the city

With two of my Moldovan friends and fellow explorers.

With two of my Moldovan friends and fellow explorers.

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Discussion

7 thoughts on “Exploring the Jewish History of Balti, Moldova

  1. Fascinating.

    Posted by Pat Altenburger | February 13, 2014, 2:56 pm
  2. Glad you had the opportunity to visit it while you are there! We got snow today, lots of it!

    Posted by Juanita edmonds | February 13, 2014, 5:49 pm
  3. Cool. Also that walking back into the city photo is really beautiful.

    Posted by katey | February 13, 2014, 11:13 pm
  4. Are those all the photos you got from the cemetary? Can you tell me where it’s located (on the chance that I ever get there)? My family came from there, and I’d love to see what information I can.

    Posted by Lisa | April 1, 2014, 2:20 am
    • Lisa – the cemetary is located behind the center of Balti, near the rowing lake. If you make it out to Balti sometime soon, I would be happy to show you around.

      Posted by I think about that every day | April 1, 2014, 11:22 am
      • Thanks. I’ve heard conflicting reports. Some places online say that the tombstones from the Jewish cemetary were removed by the Nazis to wipe out any trace that there were Jews there. But the photos say otherwise. Are most of them in Hebrew, or Romanian? I’m going to track down how to spell Flanzbaum and Shmulevitz in Cyrillic letters so that I can pick them out when I get a chance.

        Posted by Lisa | April 1, 2014, 4:54 pm
  5. Very good articles. Thanks!

    Posted by Jewish Articles | July 1, 2014, 3:51 pm

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