Our experiences while driving from Falticeni to
Piatra Neamt and then to Negulesti in August, 2012:
Maps courtesy of Google Maps:
The day began early – we had a lot of distance to cover. We left from Suceava and merely drove through Falticeni,
24.7 km from Suceava. Entering its outskirts, we saw typical small homes, but the city itself is lined with
concrete high rises which are much less attractive. A few of my Natenson/Nathanson and Mendelssohn relatives
came from Falticeni ,
as did the husband of my grandfather’s older sister Anna Ruth - Chaim Shulem (Harotnachaner) Hart.
Piatra Neamt, Neamt, Romania:
Gigi pointed out is that the architecture in Moldavia is slightly different from that of Bukovina and we agreed.
This is a beautiful, very large city in the Moldavian region of Romania, at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains
and on the banks of the Bistria River. Jewish settlement in Piatra Neamt dates back as far as the eighteenth
century: a wooden synagogue was built in 1766; a burial society existed by 1771, and the cemetery includes
tombstones from that period as well.
In 1803, there were 120 Jews living in Piatra Neamt, working mainly in crafts and trade. This increased to 8,489 in
1907 (approximately half the town's population) – Jewish merchants were active in industry, timber, cattle trading
and also banking. In 1941, there were 19 synagogues in Piatra Neamt, one of them a rather modern temple. In 1947,
approximately 8,000 Jews remained in Piatra Neam?, but their numbers decreased dramatically, due to virulent anti-Semitism.
Deportation during the Holocaust had not yet reached this city, but many people were deported to work camps.
"One destination for Jews leaving Romania was Israel (then Ottoman Palestine) where Romanians founded two of the
oldest villages - Rosh Pina and Zikhron Ya’akov. But between 1871 and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914,
almost 30 percent of Romanian Jews migrated to Canada and the United States." There was resistance to the huge
influx of Romanian Jews at that time. My own Nathanson family arrived in Canada in June of 1901 and settled in Montreal.
Our first stop was at the synagogues, both situated on a pretty, winding, sloping street, Str. Dr. Dimitrie Ernici,
both fenced in. The gate was locked but we were still able to have a good look. In 2003, just 153 Jews were living
in the city and one functioning synagogue, The Temple Synagogue, existed. The wooden synagogue, the Ba'al Shem Tov,
right next to it, was restored after an eight year effort, and was re-dedicated on Chanukah, December 14, 2009.
One of the very few remaining wooden synagogues in Eastern Europe, it has been classified as a historical monument.
We then went to see the main Jewish cemetery in the city. The caretaker emerged from the Chevra Kadisha and talked
to our guide briefly. He looked through his list of burials, didn’t see any of the names that I was looking for,
but it was an incomplete list. He told us to take our time looking around. Sylvie and I gave him a ‘donation’
of 20 Lei (= about $11.00 Canadian), for which he wrote a receipt on a special form and seemed quite pleased to
be doing this for a Canadian. I managed to photograph 68 tombstones, databased them when I got home and sent
them to be uploaded on JOWBR. We then ate our lunch at a rustic, open-air restaurant in a recreational park
in the high hills surrounding the city.
Wikipedia says, "because of its privileged location in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, Piatra Neamt is considered
one of the most picturesque cities in Romania." The city is surrounded by lakes and mountains, the highest being Mount Pietricica.