While the world is facing challenging time the Jewish Heritage Moldova is continuing its memory-saving and extremely time-sensitive job. Recently in the frames of a field research implemented in collaboration with ESJF European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative and supported by the European Union we have discovered gravestones’ fragments from the demolished Jewish cemetery in the middle of the rural Moldova, in Onițcani village. The following research developed as a Hollywood movie.
The matzevot are dated back to 1730s, the fact that places Onițcani Jewish cemetery among the oldest in Moldova. Onițcani is unjustly forgotten in the Jewish context while we discovered that the Jewish community here existed at least since early 18th century. For centuries the Onițcani Jewish community was a tiny one (according the official censes: about 70 people in 1897, 28 in 1930), but has a great historical value. In 1726 a blood libel took place: four Jews from Onițcani were accused for kidnapping and murdering a Christian kid – and were justified with an international interference of the European countries, 200 years before Dreifus and Beilis! In 1729 a marketplace in Onițcani is mentioned – the oldest Jewish marketplace known in Moldova. During WW2 it found itself on the crossroads of the most tragic events: Onițcani became a killing place for the Jews from the village and surroundings, and at the same time, a final resting place for many German soldiers, killed here; so, two neighboring massgraves: Jewish and German – are creating of Onițcani a symbol of a historical mutual forgiveness.
We strongly believe that preserving the priceless Jewish heritage and memorizing the Jewish history of Onițcani could serve a great job not only for the local history. It would turn Onițcani into attractive touristic site and create a good example for the locals and local authorities all over Moldova. The project will have media coverage, the first steps are already filmed by the Europa Libera (Free Europe). As a start we have moved the fragments from the backyard to the center of the village, finished all negotiations with the local authorities and created an architectural project. We are looking for external support to finish the project. With your help we can preserve for the future generations the priceless Jewish heritage.
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By the end of 2020 we managed to prepare the site for the future open air museum: raised pedestals and racks, paved the plot. To be continued, stay tuned!