Romania Destroys Historic Gate of Jewish Cemetery Holding Holocaust Victims

Romanian rabbi says demolishing the city's 'Jewish symbol' is 'a crime' ■ Iasi municipality: Decision was made with Jewish community, gate will be rebuilt elsewhere

The gate of the Jewish cemetery of Iasi, Romania.
Rabbi Jacob Solomon

The entrance gate to the Jewish cemetery in Iasi, the second largest city in Romania, was razed by the municipality on Monday. 

The municipality told the local press that the historic structure dates back to 1880 and was demolished because it was unsafe. The city also said that the local Jewish community had participated in the decision making process and that the gate will be restored and rebuilt in a different location.

Around 150,000 Jews are buried in the Iasi Jewish cemetery. Some were killed in pogroms by the Nazis and local collaborators during the Holocaust.

Rabbi Jacob Solomon of the Shtefanesht Jewish community in Romania visited Iasi this week and told Haaretz that he was shocked to see the destruction and the bulldozers. 

"We caught them red-handed, it's a crime," he said. "They demolished the historic gate at the entrance to the Jewish neighborhood and to the old Jewish cemetery. The historic gate was the old Jewish symbol of the city and the cemetery," he said.
 
Solomon said he was not satisfied with the city's answer that the gate would be restored somewhere else. "All we can do is express the anguish and astonishment that seizes anybody who cherishes the history of Romanian and Iasi Jewry at the sight of the destruction we saw this week, and the sorry sight of bulldozers working fast to raze the valuable historic structure," he said.

The municipality told the Israeli embassy in Romania that the gate was not fully demolished. The municipality presented photos showing that key architectural elements were removed whole prior to the demolition and will be reincorporated into the structure when it is rebuilt.

The Jewish community of Romania did not respond to Haaretz's request for comment.