Sunday, December 9, 2007


During the weekend of 1-2 December 2007, we guided the musicians Alexandre Moschella (Brazil) and his wife Fernanda Bertinato to Bukovina, where they learnt about local traditions, had meals at old Moldavian inns and visited the monasteries of Dragomirna, Sucevita, Humor and Voronet.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jill Kasen

On September 29th and October 6th 2007, Jill Kasen (US) and her trip colleague Arleen Glikbarg (US) were guided through the remains of Jewish Bucharest. They also had the occasion to visit the main touristic attractions of the Romanian capital, mix of Istambul and Paris.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Coppola attends the première of his latest movie in Bucharest

The film “Youth without youth” by Francis Ford Coppola had on October 23rd the gala screening in Bucharest, only three days after the world first from the Rome Festival.

The event was attended by the director together with part of the Romanian production team. Francis Ford Coppola, the maker of the famous trilogy “The Godfather,” of “Apocalypse Now” and of the well-known film about Dracula, was accompanied by his wife and his son.

An adaptation of the homonymous short story of Mircea Eliade, the script of the film is written, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, marking his return to authoring his own films, alongside a production and direction team consisting chiefly of Romanians. Coppola thought to shoot “Youth without youth” as if at the beginning of his career, with a small budget and a young team who worked together with him 14-15 hours a day, for six months. “The team was very young and enthusiastic, eager to adapt to the only possible method to shoot this film,” stressed the director.

This is the first film of Coppola in the last ten years. According to the New York Times, the film is a mixture of genres. Initially, the story of professor Dominic Matei (played by Tim Roth), which begins in Bucharest in 1938, is similar to an espionage thriller from WW II. But the political plot dissipates as Matei falls in love with a young woman who seems able to travel back in time, and the film becomes a strange combination of love, mystery and philosophical speculation.

Source: George Grigoriu's article on Nine O'Clock

Picture: Romania Libera

Friday, June 15, 2007


Elliot and Ellen Shell (US) - below, in front of Bucharest main railway station - spent the weekend of 9-10 June 2007 in Bucharest, the city where his family lived in the 20's, after emigrating from Ukraine and before leaving by train to Constantinople towards a new life. After a dense and touching visit including Jewish sites and chosen attractions under the guidance of Elena, family Shell left the Romanian capital to Istanbul by train as well, in order to reproduce the voyage made by his ancestrals 80 years ago.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Palme d'or décernée au roumain Cristian Mungiu

Le jury du 60e Festival de Cannes a décerné, dimanche 27 mai au soir, la Palme d'or à un film roumain, 4 mois, 3 semaines et 2 jours, en tête d'un palmarès qui braque résolument les projecteurs sur le cinéma d'auteur le plus exigeant.

Ce palmarès ignore en revanche totalement des habitués de la Croisette tels que Quentin Tarantino, Emir Kusturica, Wong Kar-wai ou les frères Coen, alors que le film de ces derniers, No Country for Old Men, était souvent donné favori par les rumeurs.

"Pour moi, c'est un peu un conte de fées"
, a commenté le réalisateur de 4 mois, 3 semaines et 2 jours, dont le sacre est également celui d'un jeune cinéma roumain qui s'impose comme l'un des plus créatifs sur la scène internationale. "J'espère que cette Palme d'or sera une bonne nouvelle pour les petits cinéastes des petits pays, car il semble enfin qu'on n'ait plus besoin de gros budgets et de grandes stars pour faire une histoire que tout le monde écoutera", a-t-il poursuivi.

Cristian Mungiu, 39 ans, avait été remarqué dès son premier long métrage, Occident, présenté en 2002 dans le cadre de la Quinzaine des réalisateurs. Stylistiquement épuré, son deuxième film, au maigre budget de 600 000 euros, est un récit cru et puissant d'un avortement interdit sous le régime communiste.

source: Le Monde

Romanian novel becomes Coppola movie

Marking the return of substantial filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola to his homeland after ten years, "Youth Without Youth", his first effort since 1997's "The Rainmaker", will make its world premiere at Italy's 2nd annual RomaCinemaFest held this year on October 18-27.

"This film represents a new period in my career, where I intend to make only personal films," Coppola remarked. "I look forward to showing it at this new festival in Italy, whose great masters such as Rossellini, Fellini, Visconti, Pasolini and Antonioni inspired my early career."

Also written by Coppola, the WWII-set is an adaptation of the Romanian author Mircea Eliade novel which focuses on an elderly professor whose apparent immortality makes him a target of the Nazis. Tim Roth is toplining with Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Pirici, Marcel Iures, and Andre Hennicke co-starring.

source: Aceshowbiz

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Jewish population in Romania

The map shows the Jewish population per county in the territory of Greater Romania, according to the census of 1930.

The counties of Cernauti, Iasi and Lapusna had the largest communities, counting over 40,000 Jews each.

N.B.: (1) Cernauti: or Chernovitz, Chernivtsi, main county in Northern Bukovina, with capital bearing the same name, today in Ukraine; (2) Iasi: most important county in the Romanian historical region of Moldavia, with capital bearing the same name; (3) Lapusna: county in Bessarabia, with Chisinau (Kishinev) as capital, today the capital of the independent Republic of Moldova.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


After having spent New Year in Berlin, I took a train to Warsaw. It was January 1995. In spite of the low temperatures, I decided to go to Lithuania for the first time. The railway to Vilnius crosses Belarus through Grodno. In order to avoid difficulties with one more visa, I took a Scania bus to Lithuania, whose way avoided the Belarussian border. I stayed about 5 days in Vilnius. There I learnt how infinite are the tonalities between white and black. I was guided by Regina Kopilevich. First we took a bus to Wilkomir - today's Ukmerge - where my great-greatgrandmother Haia Sarah Papert was born. From the 11 local synagogues, only a couple of them remained, but the buildings are of course used for other purposes. The Jewish cemetery was devastated during WWII. From Ukmerge we took a taxi to Poselva - today's Zelva - the shtetl of my great-greatgrandfather Lev Klabin, Jewish scholar and tax collector, who had emigrated with the whole family to Brazil around 1890. Our taxi was the only car in the village. According to family accounts, the synagogue stood close to the well. I could recognize the building, in ruins. After having eaten an unforgettable borsh soup at the local tavern, we went to the school, looking for help. The teacher of History guided us to the Jewish cemetery. Snow, wind. Tiny wooden houses. We entered one of them, an ancient lady told us about the good relationship with the Jewish community before the War. I expected to meet Lev Klabin and his long beard at any corner, at any moment. The deep impressions of this personal genealogical trip made me understand what other people can feel in such circumstances. From that moment, I decided I wanted to enable more people to feel the same.

Stern / Eiras

In October 2005, jazzman Marcinho Eiras (Brazil) and family Stern (Peru) had a weekend full of revelations. After visiting Bran Castle and Sighisoara, birthplace of Dracula, they met him during their overnight in a Szekler village (photo) close to the Transylvanian Alps. Although strangely pale the next day, they were all able to enjoy the wonderful landscape on the way back to Bucharest.


In October 2006, Robert Mass and Charmian (US) visited Romania after making a wonderful cruise down the Danube. In 3 days they visited important sites in Transylvania and had an unforgettable lunch at a peasant's house nearby Bucharest (photo).


In February 2006, Fabia Szvaticsek (Brazil) came to Romania in order to establish professional contacts in the theater field as well as to discover more about her Transylvanian roots. After much research based on few elements, she found out she had a cousin in Arad, near the Hungarian border, whom she visited on her trip's last day.


Patrick Schein (France) has come several times to Romania. His family was originally from Ramnicu Sarat, the same town where the world-famous Saul Steinberg was born. Since his first contact in 2004, we have been helping Patrick to find a way to save the Jewish heritage in the town. The synagogue (photo) and the 2 cemeteries are in ruins.


In July-August 2006, the globetrotters Larry Lunsk and Debbi Kless (US) spent more than 20 days in Romania. We organized their trip from Oradea through Transylvania down till Bucharest and then up to Bucovina, in Northern Moldavia, visiting Cluj-Napoca, Sighisoara, Sibiu, Brasov and Suceava. In their first trip to Romania, they were able to learn a lot about its history, culture and Jewish heritage. Besides, Larry had the honour to celebrate his birthday dining out with Count Dracula. In the photo, they are visiting a traditional farm 30 miles from Bucharest.

JewishGen - King / Fletcher

In September 2000, Susan King and Joanna Fletcher (JewishGen - US) came to visit Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Iasi, the most representative towns for Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldova, respectively. They had talks with the heads of the local Jewish communities and visited the main Jewish sites and tourist attractions, in order to be able to counsel correctly people that call their Houston office looking for genealogical travels within the JewishGen's programme "ShtetlSchleppers". In the picture, they pose in front of the InterContinental Bucharest together with their guide/driver Marin.


In May-June 2000, Fred and Esther Schwartz (US) came looking after his roots in Moldavia. We tailored them a trip including, besides Bucharest, the cities of Galatz, Tecuci, Nicoresti (his father's birthplace), Bacau and Buhusi, where they visited the local Jewish communities, synagogues, cemeteries and archives. In their journey through the past, he met people who told him fascinating stories about his own family and about the history of the Jews in this part of the world.


In April 2004, Les Berman (US) and his daughter came to visit their ancestrals' town Ramnicu Sarat, where it was possible to see the ruined synagogue and the 2 cemeteries. Les Berman was also kindly allowed to research at the National Archives in Buzau (photo), had talks with the local head of the Jewish community in Focsani and with the mayor of Ramnicu Sarat. Besides, before leaving Romania, they still paid a visit to Dracula's castle in the beautiful Prahova valley through the Carpathian mountains.


In April 2002, Silvio (Brazil), Serge and David Batusanski (France) visited their ancestors' land: Bessarabia. Chisinau (in the picture below, Serge seen through the Holocaust monument in downtown) and Briceni were the main stops, where they visited the local Jewish community and cemeteries. In Briceni they were even able to meet a distant cousin, unknown till that moment. On the way back to Romania, we passed through Botosani, the place that is probably in the origin of their family name.


In May 2002, I was in the village of Oclanda, in Soroca county, Bessarabia, in order to visit the place where the family of my greatgrandfather Solomon Aiklender came from. Although my grandmother was born in the Ukrainian town of Zhitomir, it seems - according to some research - that her father, or at least her father's family, came from that tiny village on the border of the Dniester river.


In November 2004, we took Leonel and Roberto Kaz (Brazil) to a trip towards deep Romania, searching for its flavours, history and culture. Father and son, with Jewish Moldavian origins, were able to understand better, crossing Transylvania and experiencing family hospitality in Bukovina, special habits and characteristics within their own family. In the picture below, Leonel, a citizen of Rio de Janeiro, is happy to see his ancestrals' snow in Suceava county.


Elizabeth Margosches (US) was in Romania in July 2001. Her Romanian roots made her come from the East Coast in order to visit Bucharest and Iasi. In both cities she visited the main Jewish sites and the National Archives for personal genealogical research. She is in the picture with her guide Elena at Strada Alba, Iasi.


The Brazilian lawyer Henrique Gandelman (father to the saxophonist Leo Gandelman) came to Romania in 1998, from where he was guided by us to the Republic of Moldova. His parents were from a tiny village called Trinka, in Northern Bessarabia, and had emigrated to Brazil during WWII. We guided him through Chisinau, Edinetz, Briceni and Sekureni (Ukraine), looking for his family's footprints. During the trip, he was helped by many new friends and heard moving stories about his own family and the fate of Bessarabian Jews.