ESJF surveys in Moldova are progressing well and are scheduled to be completed by mid-April. ESJF began its surveys in the Republic of Moldova on 25 March 2019 with the help of our national coordinators, Irina Shikhova and Julia Seinman, and support by the National Agency on Monuments Inspection and Restoration as well as the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova.
As ESJF field teams move through the country surveying cemetery sites, they fill in questionnaires recording information on the cemeteries, including its location and the number of preserved gravestones. Using drones, teams create aerial photographs showing the site from above, helping delineate the cemetery’s boundaries.
Engineering and geodesic information is sent directly from our field surveyors utilising the drones and using specially developed technology to ESJF’s central processing hub in Kyiv, Ukraine. Here, the data is analysed and a decision taken whether the cemetery requires a protection and fencing plan. In such cases, the material is then transferred directly to our in
house architects who can swiftly draw up fully costed fencing designs based on the gathered information.
ESJF’s historical research team also supplies a short historical background for each cemetery site, which is uploaded along with general information to the new ESJF website, which will be launched in the following weeks. Once the surveys are completed, ESJF plans to begin educational activities in Moldova, which will involve encouraging secondary school students to protect their local Jewish heritage.
In their daily work, field teams encounter unexpected surprises. Surveying the Vadul-Rashkov Jewish cemetery, one of the oldest in Moldova, they witnessed a horse grazing in front of the gravestones. This Jewish cemetery on the banks of the Dniester river in northern Moldova counts over 2,500 preserved matzevot, making it one of the largest Jewish sites in the country.
However, not all sites are preserved this well. Of the 117 sites ESJF has visited in Moldova to date, a significant number were either not found or completely demolished. In other places, ESJF teams found previously unknown Jewish cemeteries. Onitskany, which had a pre-war Jewish population but no known cemetery, is one such place that the work done by ESJF has helped put back on the map. In total, ESJF plans on visiting 132 sites in the country.