Friday, December 19, 2008


Elie Wiesel (born Eliezer Wiesel in 1928) is a Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

He was born in Sighetu Marmaţiei, Maramureş, Romania, to Shlomo and Sarah Wiesel. Sarah was the daughter of Dodye Feig, a Hasid and farmer from a nearby village. Shlomo was an Orthodox Jew of Hungarian descent, and a shopkeeper who ran his own grocery store. He was active and trusted within the community, and had spent a few months in jail for having helped Polish Jews who escaped and were hungry in the early years of his life. It was Shlomo who instilled a strong sense of humanism in his son, encouraging him to learn Modern Hebrew and to read literature, whereas his mother encouraged him to study Torah and Kabbalah. Wiesel has said his father represented reason, and his mother, faith. Visit the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Brassaï, pseudonym of Gyula Halász (1899-1984), is considered one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. Halász was born in the Transylvanian town of Braşov, Romania, to a Hungarian father and an Armenian mother. At age three, his family moved to live in Paris for a year, while his father, a Professor of Literature, taught at the Sorbonne. As a young man, Gyula Halász studied painting and sculpture in Budapest, before joining a cavalry regiment of the Austro-Hungarian army, where he served until the end of the I World War. In 1920 Halász went to Berlin, where he worked as a journalist and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1924 he moved to Paris where he would live the rest of his life. Living amongst the huge gathering of artists in the Montparnasse Quarter, he took a job as a journalist. Halász's job and his love of the city, whose streets he often wandered late at night, led to photography. He later wrote that photography allowed him to seize the Paris night and the beauty of the streets and gardens, in rain and mist. Using the name of his beloved birthplace, Gyula Halász went by the pseudonym Brassaï, which means from Braşov.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Palade: Romanian Nobel Prize

George Emil Palade (1912-2008) was a highly regarded Romanian cell biologist. In 1974, he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the vacuole. Palade also received the US National Medal of Science in Biological Sciences in 1986, and was previously elected Member of the National Academy of Science in 1961.

Palade was born in Iaşi, Romania; his father was a Professor of Philosophy at the University and his mother was a high school teacher. Both parents strongly encouraged George to further develop his abilities through higher education at the university. Palade received his M.D. in 1940 from the School of Medicine of the University of Bucharest. He was a member of the faculty of that famous school until 1945 when he went to the USA for postdoctoral studies. There, he joined Prof. Albert Claude at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Read his autobiographical article here.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, November 29, 2008


On June 25th, 2004, we guided H. E. Gilberto Ferreira Martins, Ambassador of Brazil in Bucharest at that time (first from the right), together with his wife and a couple of Brazilian friends, in a one-day trip to the countryside area north of the Romanian capital. Based at Fernando's Hideaway in the village of Fierbinti-Târg, where we offered them a traditional Romanian lunch and showed the local peasants farms, we visited two important Christian-Orthodox monasteries of the area, dating back to the 17th century. In the picture, the group poses together with Elena Klabin (guide) and the monk Firmilian in front of the Saint Nicholas church within the monastery Balamuci.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Romanian modernist architect

Marcel Iancu (1895-1984), also known as Marcel Janco, was a famous Israeli painter and architect. He was born to a Jewish family in Bucharest. A friend and compatriot of Tristan Tzara, he was among the founders of the Dadaist movement at Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich. In 1922, he returned to Romania and worked as an architect and painter, having conceived the first Modernist houses in Bucharest. In 1941, he left for Palestine to escape the Nazis. In 1953, Janco established the Ein Hod artists' village near Haifa, Israel. Towards the end of his life he helped found the Dada museum in Ein Hod which bears his name.

Contact us in order to follow, during your visit to Bucharest, the urban itinerary Marcel Iancu, the beginnings of modern architecture in Bucharest, 1929-1938, conceived by Ms Doina Anghel, from the National Museum of Art of Romania.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blessing of the house

On November 8th, the day of St. Michael and St. Gabriel according to the Christian-Orthodox calendar, we organized a religious ceremony among relatives and close Brazilian and Romanian friends in order to bless, with the local priest, the building that serves as the seat of Fernando's Hideaway in Draguseni, Suceava county. The guest of honor was H.E. Vitor Gobato, the Ambassador of Brazil in Bucharest, whom we afterwards guided to the towns of Târgu Neamt, Gura Humorului and the monastery of Voronet, part of the UNESCO world heritage.

Monday, November 3, 2008


On November 1st I guided the couple Gerardo Frankel and Margarida Reik de Frankel (Uruguay), who came from Montevideo to Bucharest in order to take a ship cruise through the Danube, starting on November 2nd at the Romanian harbor of Oltenita and crossing the Bulgarian, Serbian, Hungarian, Austrian and German borders till Nürnberg. They visited Bucharest's old town, the Jewish neighborhood and the royal palace of Mogosoaia (in the picture) besides some shopping in the malls and antique shops of the city.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween in Romania

Halloween in Romania is celebrated around the myth of "Dracula", on the 31st of October. In Transylvania and especially in the town of Sighisoara, there are many costume parties, for teenagers and adults, that are created from the US model. Also the spirit of Dracula lives there because the town was the site of many witch-trials that are recreated by actors today, on the night of Halloween.

Source: Wikipedia

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jewish cemetery in Bucharest desecrated

Unknown vandals have knocked over and, in some cases, destroyed the headstones in the cemetery where at least 35,000 Jews are buried, including victims of the Holocaust. It took place during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, on October 24th. The vandals also smashed windows in the administrative offices of the cemetery. No anti-Semitic slogans were discovered on the destroyed tombstones, according to police. Jewish leaders condemned the desecration and said the scale of the destruction suggested the activity was organized — rather than random acts by wayward youths. Paul Schwartz, spokesman for Romania's Jewish community, called the desecration "the worst act of vandalism in the nation in recent times."

Source: article by Maud Swinnen published on October 24th 2008 at European Jewish Press

Thursday, October 16, 2008


In the period October 10th-13th, we guided Maryellen Pienta and Michael Minning (US) through Romania. They were the first clients to stay at our Hideaway in Northern Moldavia. After 1250km by car, crossing Moldavia, Bukovina, the Carpathians and Transylvania, our guests had a wonderful time, learning a lot about this country and its people and getting to know some of the UNESCO world heritage painted monasteries: Probota, Sucevita and Humor. Maryellen's roots from around Gura Humorului - her grandfather Jakob Szprowski was an Austro-Hungarian officer's aide who emigrated to the US - will probably bring her here again for a genealogical trip. In the picture, Maryellen poses together with Sister Marcela, our guide Elena Klabin and Michael at the nun's cell in Agapia monastery. You may read Maryellen's impressions on the trip at her blog's article The Catania-Bucharest Connection and watch her travel pictures here.


Between June 5th and June 12th 2008, Hal and Charlotte Hegwer (US) were guided by us from Timisoara to Bucharest, visiting also Craiova. In Craiova they met the head of the local Jewish community and carefully visited the synagogue and cemetery, looking for records of their ancestors. In Bucharest, besides a traditional sightseeing with the main attractions, the Hegwers visited the Jewish museum and had dinner with all of us at the Caru' cu Bere beerhouse (in the picture, from the left to the right: our guide/driver Marinel Sburlea, Mr & Mrs Hegwer, Fernando & Elena Klabin).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Romania: best break for autumn colours

Read below part of the article Six of the best breaks for autumn colours - Poland, Spain, England, Italy, Romania or France - take your pick for the best blazing leaves, written by Annabelle Thorpe and published on September 6th 2008 by The Times:

The Carpathian mountains, which dominate Romania's mythical region, are carpeted in beech, oak, spruce and fir that melt into golds, russets and terracotta during autumn. Hikers are well catered for, with endless trails criss-crossing the slopes, and the bears, wolves and lynx that populate the forests make it a favourite destination for wildlife enthusiasts - there is an 80 per cent chance of seeing wild bears. The small towns - 13th-century Sighisoara and medieval Sibiu - are fascinating to explore, and even more attractive under a carpet of autumn leaves.

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Crema Leis

On 25th and 26th August our team (left) Marinel Sburlea (driver) and Elena Klabin (guide) guided the couple Abadia Crema Leis and Silvio Leis (Brazil) in Bucharest and through the Carpathian mountains, visiting highlights of Romanian tourism within and near the capital: Dracula's castle, Rosenau fortress, Peles Palace, Parliament Palace and an abandoned huge statue of Lenin... The Brazilian couple left Romania full with new information on its culture and history, planning to come back for a longer trip.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Xenakis from Romania

The modernist Greek composer and architect Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) was born in Brăila, Romania. At the age of ten he was sent to a boarding school on the Aegean island of Spetsai, Greece and later studied architecture and engineering in Athens. Xenakis's primary teachers of composition were Aristotelis Koundouroff, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, and Olivier Messiaen. Xenakis pioneered electronic and computer music, and used stochastic mathematical techniques in his compositions, including probability.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday, August 18, 2008

Synagogues of Southern Transylvania

Photography exhibition
Photography: Christian Binder
Concept design: Julie Dawson
22 - 24 August 2008, 12:00 - 18:00
Synagogue of Sighisoara: Strada Tache Ionescu 13, Sighisoara

In the wake of the Holocaust and the subsequent mass migration of the vast majority of Romania's Jewish population, this country's countless synagogues have fallen into various stages of disrepair and decay over the years. This photo exhibition attempts to capture the interesting transitional stage in which Romania now finds itself – with the entrance of outside, foreign investors and NGOs, some synagogues have been or are being restored and turned into cultural centres or finding other alternative uses. Others remain abandoned, often assuming a central location in the town's centre, an evocative, stubborn reminder of recent past – and of today's reluctance to address Romania's troubled relationship with this history.

The questions are numerous – what will become of these buildings now that they can be used again? Will their respective towns take responsibility for their upkeep, how can they be integrated into a long-term plan for urban or rural renewal? And how can the countless still decrepit synagogues, many of significant historical and architectural value, be incorporated into a systematic and far-reaching plan for commemorating and celebrating a culture formerly a vibrant part of Romania's multi-cultural existence?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fountain pen: Romanian invention

Petrache Poenaru (1799-1875) was a famous Romanian inventor of the Enlightenment era.

Poenaru, who had studied in Paris and Vienna and, later, completed his specialized studies in England, was a mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, teacher and organizer of the educational system, as well as a politician, agronomist, and zootechnologist, founder of the Philharmonic Society, the Botanical Gardens and the National Museum of Antiquities in Bucharest.

While a student in Paris, Petrache Poenaru invented the world's first fountain pen, an invention for which the French Government issued a patent on May 25, 1827.

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Insulin: Romanian discovery

Nicolae Paulescu (1869-1931) was a Romanian physiologist, professor of medicine and the discoverer of insulin. In 1916, he succeeded in developing an aqueous pancreatic extract which, when injected into a diabetic dog, proved to have a normalizing effect on blood sugar levels. After a gap during World War I, he resumed his research and succeeded in isolating the antidiabetic pancreatic hormone (pancreine). An extensive paper on this subject - Research on the Role of the Pancreas in Food Assimilation - was submitted by Paulescu on June 22, 1921 to the Archives Internationales de Physiologie in Liège, Belgium, and was published in the August 1921 issue of this journal. Paulescu secured the patent rights for his method of manufacturing pancreine (his own term for insulin) on April 10, 1922 (patent no. 6254) from the Romanian Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Eight months after Paulescu's works were published, doctor Frederick Grant Banting and biochemist John James Richard Macleod from the University of Toronto, Canada, published their paper on the successful use of a pancreatic extract for normalizing blood sugar (glucose) levels (glycemia) in diabetic dogs. Their paper is a mere confirmatory paper, with direct references to Paulescu's article. However, they misquote that article. Surprisingly, Banting and Macleod received the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of insulin, while Paulescu's pioneering work was being completely ignored by the scientific and medical community. International recognition for Paulescu's merits as the true discoverer of insulin came only 50 years later.

Source: Wikipedia

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Between June 27 and 29 we guided Louis Schonfeld (US) to Iasi and Northern Moldavia. He was able to visit old inns on the way and to research the Iasi Jewish cemetery, besides discovering Moldavian hospitality and gastronomy. Although his family roots come mainly from Salaj (Transylvania) and Zakarpattia (Ukraine), he is interested in any link to the Schonfeld family name. In the picture, a tombstone of the I World War Romanian soldier Moise Scheinfeld at Iasi Jewish cemetery.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Romania: vacation secret

I reproduce, below, a fragment of the article Romania: A Well-Kept Vacation Secret for Celebrities, written by Jean Marquit and published on Dec 28, 2005 by Associated Content.

"The country of Romania remains the well-kept secret of the rich and famous. The secret is not just in the inexpensive filming costs, which are increasingly drawing movies and the celebrities that go with them; it is also in the luxuriously metropolitan amenities that live side-by-side with pristine virginity. And whenever one travels to Bucharest, Romania's capital, and from thence into the non-fiction countryside of Transylvania, one is often both uniquely alone and in good company.

The countryside surrounding Bucharest hosts numerous spas and resorts; Romania has long been renowned for its healing waters with dignitaries visiting since the time of the Roman Empire. Armand Assante, who recently shared the screen with Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey in Two for the Money, enjoys the Olimp resort at the coast of the Black Sea. It is a getaway on the shores of a sea long famous for its qualities to heal the body and the spirit."

You can read the whole article by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Romanian fountain of youth

Ana Aslan (1897-1988) was a Romanian biologist and physician. She is considered to be a founding figure of gerontology and geriatrics in Romania. In 1952, under her leadership, the Geriatric Institute in Bucharest was founded.

Aslan's Gerovital H3 concept was introduced for the first time in 1957, in Verona, Italy, on the occasion of the IV International Gerontology Congress. Many scientists from the USA, Germany, England, Japan, Italy, Austria and Romania have studied and confirmed the effects of the Gerovital H3 treatment.

Notables such as Charles De Gaulle, John F. Kennedy, Konrad Adenauer, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Tito, Khrushchev, Indira Gandhi and Imelda Marcos have traveled to Romania to benefit this anti-aging therapy. Other well-known people, including actresses Marlene Dietrich, Lillian Gish, the Gabor sisters, actors Charlie Chaplin and Kirk Douglas, and artist Salvador Dalí have also followed the same path. They traveled to Bucharest, where Dr. Aslan did her research with Gerovital H3.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cruise on the Black Sea

On June 13th it was inaugurated the first regular cruise line linking the Romanian harbor of Constanta to Odessa in Ukraine and Varna in Bulgaria.

The Ukrainian-flagged ship Krymskaya Strela normally takes 6 hours between Odessa and Constanta, and almost 4 hours between Constanta and Varna.

Detailed information can be found on Navlomar website.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Brazilian jazzman in Transylvania

On May 20th-21st 2008 I guided the Brazilian musician Marcos Valente Jr. to the city of Reghin, in the core of Transylvania. In order to prepare his Romanian tournée next October, Marcos wanted to visit the most famous factory of musical instruments of the country - Hora - where he chose a special bass for himself. During the trip through the Carpathian mountains, he had several cultural and gastronomical experiences which gave him a general taste of Transylvania.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Easter 2007

During the Christian-orthodox Easter holiday, we guided three ladies from Brazil - Barbara Spanoudis, Marcia Schubert and Oziris Costa - through deep Romania in order to experience the peasants life and their sincere religious feeling. Hosted in Northern Moldavia, they were able to visit several monasteries in Falticeni and Neamt area, as well as the world famous monasteries in Bukovina: Voronet, Moldovita and Humor. In the picture, Oziris and Barbara, in blue pullovers, together with their guides at a traditional family house in Rosiori, Suceava, get warm for Easter mass.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Stefan Hajdu

Ştefan Hajdu (1907-1996), also known as István Hajdú or Étienne Hajdú, was a famous French sculptor of Jewish Hungarian origin, born in the Transylvanian town of Turda, Romania. He studied in Budapest and Vienna and, in 1927, established himself in Paris. His works show a certain influence of Brancusi's aspiration towards pure forms, specially after 1950, when Hajdu starts to develop a very personal style, based on the abstractionism that was already present in his sculptures since 1932. Some of his works can be seen at museums in Paris, Essen, New York, San Francisco, Washington, Bucharest, Budapest and Skopje.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Romanian "Brother Grimm"

Josef Haltrich (1822-1886), a famous Transylvanian ethnograph, collected and published folk tales from the medieval German area called "Sachsenland", in today's Romania. He was born in Reghin, studied History, Theology and Philology in Leipzig and then lived in Sighisoara, Cluj and Bistrita. Compared to the Brothers Grimm, he is one of the most important folklorists of German culture.

Read here (in German) the folk tales collected by Haltrich.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Shining through a long, dark night

Every now and then in film a tangible if invisible phenomenon, a “talent cloud,” descends upon a nation, and its filmmakers turn out impressive numbers of wonderful films that reinvigorate the medium. Such has been the case with the remarkable Romanian “new wave” of the past five or six years. After the crowning achievement of last year’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days — winner of both the Grand Prize at Cannes and Felix for Best Film — Romanian cinema has been, deservedly, the talk of critics and bloggers, as well as avid moviegoers.

Yet, few if any movements in film don’t have solid roots in the past. The great achievements of Romania’s emerging filmmakers such as Cristi Puiu, Cristian Mungiu, Ruxandra Zenide were foreshadowed by earlier generations — Liviu Ciulei, Lucian Pintilie, Dan Pita, Mircea Daneliuc, Alexandru Tatos, among others. With Shining Through a Long, Dark Night, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in collaboration with the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, brings together many of the finest recent Romanian films with a selection of key films from the pre-1989 Romania cinema.

For a listing of the films that will be screened between April 16th and 27th, go to Program Overview.

Source: Film Society of Lincoln Center

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Romanian artist promotes MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art from New York hired Dan Perjovschi to create a page promoting the museum for the daily paper The New York Times

The March 12, 2008 edition of the American daily paper includes in the special "Museums" section a page of drawings by Dan Perjovschi. Selected by the Museum of Modern Art to present the image of the institution in this edition of The New York Times, Perjovschi started his work with a modern comment referring to contemporary art and to the manner it is presented today by the great museums (including the Museum of Modern art), a list including "Cubism, Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Modernism, Cafeteria, Shop." Last year, the Museum of Modern Art hosted the first individual exhibition by Dan Perjovschi in the United States, entitled "What Happened to US?" In front of the audience, for several days, Perjovschi sketched graphic comments on the relations between present social and political circumstances and art on one of the walls of the Donald B. & Catherine C. Marron Atrium.

Global warming, violence in schools, freedom of expression and even the role of the United States in the world – were themes of the exhibition presented by Perjovschi at the Museum of Modern Art from Manhattan. In a declaration for, in April 2007, Dan Perjovschi mentioned:

"All my works are inspired by reality because I follow a line of graphic comment – a highly personal graphic comment. It is not a detached graphic comment, and it is definitely not a comment dedicated to the beautiful side of life or to the things most people consider as beautiful. It is a statement of commitment. I feel like a citizen, not like a bystander. I am a man of the city, and I care about the issues it is dealing with, regardless if this city is New York, Sibiu or Bucharest. Drawing is my personal manner to respond to the city."

Source: Article by George Grigoriu on Nine O'Clock

Monday, March 31, 2008

György Ligeti

The famous Hungarian composer György Ligeti (1923-2006) was born in the Transylvanian town of Târnaveni, Romania, to a Hungarian Jewish family. Ligeti recalls that his first exposure to languages other than Hungarian came one day while listening to a conversation among the Romanian-speaking town police. Before that he hadn't known that other languages existed. He moved to the important Transylvanian city of Cluj with his family when he was 6 and he was not to return to his birth town until the 1990s. Ligeti received his initial musical training at the Cluj Conservatory. His education was interrupted in 1943 when, as a Jew, he was forced to labor by the Nazis. His brother, at the age of 16, was deported to Mauthausen; his parents were both sent to Auschwitz. Following the war, Ligeti returned to his studies in Budapest, graduating in 1949. In December of 1956, two months after the Hungarian revolution was put down by the Soviet Army, he fled first to Vienna and eventually took Austrian citizenship. Many of his works are well known in classical music circles, but to the general public, he is best known for the various pieces featured in the Stanley Kubrick films 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, March 29, 2008


In the period 6th-13th September 2001, we guided Albert Wirtzbaum (US) through several places in Romania, so that he could find information of his ancestrals, who used to live in different shtetls in the area of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and were called Wirtzbaum, Solomon, Blau, Friedman and Fried. The main places of his trip were Bucharest, Sighisoara, Cluj-Napoca (synagogue on the picture) and Oradea. In Transylvania he visited the shtetls Borod, Cornicel, Solduba and Saldabagiu de Munte, and was received as well by the Jewish genealogy specialist Peter Winter. Because of the 9/11 events, he got stuck in Bucharest and we've assisted him in his prolongated stay.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"Je préfère mon nouveau dégoût à l'ancien goût dégoûtant"

Born into a Jewish family in Botosani, northeastern Romania, Isidore Isou (born Ioan Isidor Goldstein, 1925-2007) started his career as an avant-garde art journalist during World War II. With the future social psychologist Serge Moscovici, he founded the magazine Da, which was soon after closed down by the Romanian authorities. He then moved to Paris, having developed many concepts that intended as a total artistic renewing starting from their lower levels. He called himself a Lettriste, a movement of which he was initially the only member (at the age of 16 he had published the Manifesto in 1942) and published a system of Lettrist hypergraphics. Others soon joined him, and the movement continues to grow, albeit at times under a confusing number of different names.

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brancusi: the best artist of the 20th century

On March 17th in the morning, Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi was on the leading position of the chart of the most significant 500 Artists of the 20th century, published on the site of the famous Saatchi Gallery from the United Kingdom, based on votes by internet users. On Monday, Constantin Brancusi totalized 27,099 votes, that set him on the first place, followed by Pablo Picasso (13,713 votes), Egon Schiele (13,572 votes), Paul Cezanne (13,568 votes), Claude Monet (13,088 votes), Gustav Klimt (13,016 votes), Paul Gauguin (12,957 votes), Henri Matisse (12,941 votes), Marcel Duchamp (12,925 votes) and Pier Mondrian (12,912 votes). Last week, Brancusi was on the 35th position of the chart, and the Austrian Egon Schiele, French Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso from Spain were on the leading positions. The same chart includes the Romanian painter of Jewish ethnicity Victor Brauner, currently on the 302 position, with 3,997 votes. Any visitor of the Saatchi Gallery website may cast only one vote for his favourite artist. The “Best 500 Artists of the 20th Century” Chart is inspired from “The 20th Century Art Book”, an album released by the Phaidon Publishing House.

Source: Nine O'Clock

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Maramures guidebook

The Finnish publishing house Metaneira has just launched the most detailed travel guide to Romania's region of wooden churches: Maramures.

The travel guide with more than 750 full-color photographs, 100 drawings and 24 maps shows the best of this little known corner of northern Romania. Geographic and historic overviews with plans, maps and timelines are followed by a portrayal of the traditional way of life and the wooden architecture typical to the region.

Photographs, drawings and texts guide the reader through 500 pages around 47 wooden churches built in the Maramuresean gothic style. Due to their uniqueness, eight of them are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Cornblum & Alter

In the period October 3-8, 2004, we guided Martin and Rebecca Rosenblum (US), father and daughter, through Bucharest, Focsani, Iasi and Podu Iloaiei, back to their Moldavian roots. They were able to meet with the Jewish Community and visit all Jewish sites in Iasi and Focsani, as well as the Jewish cemetery in Podu Iloaiei. They were also allowed to research at the National Archives in Iasi about their relative families Cornblum and Alter (photo). In Focsani they located a family house and even talked to old neighbors who had known their relatives.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Transylvanian fortified churches

In June 2007 it was launched in Bucharest the multimedia CD-ROM Saxon Fortified Churches of Transylvania. This a result of the successful collaboration among Mioritics Association, the German World Heritage Foundation and the UNESCO Office in Venice.

The CD includes an interactive map, sketches, descriptions and photo galleries of 44 fortified churches, local tales and glossary, all accessible through an intuitive and user-friendly interface.

The history of the fortified Saxon churches started in the 12th century, when King Geza II of Hungary assigned more than 2500 German colonists to protect and develop the southeastern part of Transylvania. A document issued in 1224 by King Andrew II gave to these colonists special rights and privileges which ensured their autonomy and significantly influenced the development of their villages.

As a sign of recognition to their uniqueness, seven out of the over 150 Saxon churches are on the UNESCO's World Heritage list. Other organizations are currently trying to restore several sites so as to rescue as many remnants of the Saxon civilization in Romania as possible.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Beauty is not the goal itself, it is the lure"

Sergiu Celibidache (1912-1996) was one of the most gifted conductors of the 20th century. Born in the town of Roman, in northeastern Romania, he spent his childhood in the Moldavian town of Iasi, becoming interested in musical composition at an early age. He studied mathematics, philosophy and music in Iasi, and later in Bucharest and Paris, and went to Berlin in 1936 to study composition at the Berlin Academy of Music. Two years later he enrolled to study conducting under Walter Gmeindl, and subsequently graduated from the Friedrich Wilhelm University with a dissertation on Josquin des Pres. At the same time the young Celibidache became attracted to Zen Buddism.

Despite the many accolades and the great following he had, Celibidache was just as well-known for refusing do recordings. His main reason was that the epiphenomena, which added to the total experience of a "live" performance in a concert hall, could never be captured on record. Hence, the magic and uniqueness of a "live" performance would be lost in a recording, the artificiality of which he used to compare to going to bed with a photograph of Brigitte Bardot.

Source: article written by Soo Kian Hing at The Flying Inkpot
Visit the Celibidache Foundation website

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

World Philatelic Exhibition in Bucharest

This year there will be celebrated 150 years from the issue of the first Romanian postal stamps, the famous “Bull Head”. To celebrate this, between 20-27 June, Romania will host in Bucharest, at Romexpo, the “EFIRO 2008” World Philatelic Exhibition, followed on the 28th June by the 70th FIP Congress.

The exhibition will be organized by the Romanian Post Office together with the Romanian Philatelic Federation, under the patronage of Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FİP), which was granted at FIP Singapore Congress of 2004, under the patronage of International Association of Philatelic Journalists (AIJP) and also under the high patronage of the Romanian Presidency.

Source: EFIRO 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Garfunkel from Iasi

Art Garfunkel is a famous American singer-songwriter and actor, best known as half of the Grammy Award winning folk duo Simon and Garfunkel. Arthur Ira Garfunkel was born in 1941 in New York City. He is of Romanian Jewish ancestry. Garfunkel's Jewish grandparents arrived in Ellis Island around 1905 from the town of Iasi, in northeastern Romania. Art Garfunkel is an avid reader, and his website contains a year-by-year listing of every book he has read since 1968. Currently the list contains more than 1,000 books. Garfunkel has undertaken several cross-continental walks in his lifetime, writing poetry along the way. In the early 1980's, he walked across Japan in a matter of weeks. From 1983 to 1997, Garfunkel walked across the US, taking 40 excursions to complete the route from New York City to the Pacific coast of Washington. In May 1998, Garfunkel began an incremented walk across Europe.

Source: Wikipedia and Art Garfunkel official website.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Romanian "King of Tierra del Fuego"

Julius Popper (1857 - 1893) was an engineer, adventurer and explorer of Romanian Jewish origin. He is responsible for the modern outline of the city of Havana, Cuba. As a "conquistador" of Tierra del Fuego in southern South America he was a controversial but influential figure. Popper was born in Bucharest, son of professor Neftali Popper, a prosperous antiques merchant. He studied in Paris before arriving to Argentina in 1885 hoping to find gold. On September 7, 1886, together with 18 people, he as captain, chief engineer, mineralogist, journalist and photographer, they started the "Popper Expedition" and found gold dust on the beach of El Páramo, a peninsula in Patagonia. Expedition was rigourosly and stricly enforced after military standards with heavily armed men with Popper in direct command of everything. He succeeded in unearthing great amounts of gold and his Compania de Lavaderos de Oro del Sud realized enormous capital gains at the Argentine stock exchange. In Patagonia, Popper gained dominance with a private army and he issued his own coins and stamps to symbolize his power.

Source: Wikipedia

Friday, February 29, 2008

Eugène Ionesco

Eugène Ionesco, born Eugen Ionescu (1909-1994), was one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco's plays depict in a tangible way the solitude and insignificance of human existence. Ionesco was born in Slatina, Olt county, Romania, to a Romanian father and a mother of French and Greek-Romanian heritage. He spent most of his childhood in France. He returned to Romania with his father in 1925 after his parents divorced. There he studied French Literature at the University of Bucharest from 1928 to 1933, where he met Emil Cioran and Mircea Eliade - the three having become lifelong friends. In 1936 Ionesco married Rodica Burileanu. Together they had one daughter for whom he wrote a number of unconventional children's stories. He and his family returned to France in 1938 for him to complete his doctoral thesis. Caught by the outbreak of war, he remained there, living in Marseille before moving to Paris after its liberation in 1944. Ionesco was made a member of the Académie française in 1970. Although he wrote almost entirely in French, Ionesco is one of Romania's most honored artists.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

The setting for this grippingly horrible movie is Romania, in 1987: that is, two years before Nicolae Ceausescu was executed, but nine years after he was awarded an honorary knighthood by the Labour government of James Callaghan - and 20 years after he had outlawed abortion in Romania to increase the birth rate. It all seems at once a very distant and very recent era, and I can't think of a film that has shown life in the eastern bloc more fiercely than this; without ever being overtly political, it makes you feel humanity itself being coarsened and degraded by the state. In recent memory, we've seen The Lives of Others and Good Bye Lenin!, which affected to be about the last days of European communism, and they have been very effective in their own differing ways, but outclassed and made to look lenient and inauthentic by this brutal masterwork.

Read here the continuation of this article, signed by Peter Bradshaw and published on January 11, 2008 by The Guardian.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Clara Haskil

Clara Haskil (1895-1960) was one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Renowned as an interpreter of the classical and early romantic repertoire, Haskil was particularly noted for her performances and recordings of Mozart. Many considered her the foremost interpreter of Mozart in her time. Haskil was born into a Sephardic Jewish family in Bucharest, Romania, and studied in Vienna under Richard Robert and Ferruccio Busoni. She moved to Paris at the age of 10, where she started studying with Joseph Morpain, who she always credited as one of her biggest influences.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tarzan was born in Romania

Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984) was an American swimmer and actor who was one of the world's best swimmers in the 1920s. He set 67 world records. After his swimming career, he became the 6th actor to portray Tarzan in films, a role he played in 12 motion pictures. Dozens of other actors also played Tarzan, but Weissmuller was by far the best known. His character's distinctive, ululating Tarzan yell is still often used in films. He was registered as Peter John Weissmüller, baptized as János Weißmüller. Some sources cite his birthplace as Freidorf, now a district of Timisoara, Romania, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was the son of German-speaking parents of Roman Catholic and Jewish background. He was actually named Peter by his parents, but when he arrived in the US he used his brother's name, Johnny, because it was more American. When Johnny was 7 months old, the family emigrated to the United States.

Source: Wikipedia

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sephardim of Romania

Read this interesting article on the Sephardic Jewish Community of Romania, published by the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture. According to it, documents demonstrate the presence of Spanish Jews in Wallachia as early as 1496; besides, most of the original Jewish population of Romania arrived from Turkey and the Balkans and was made up of Sephardim. However, by the 19th century, the majority of the Jewish population of Romania was made up of Ashkenazim, the result of waves of Yiddish speaking immigrants from Galicia and Russia.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Peindre, c'est la vie, la vraie vie, ma vie"

Victor Brauner (1903-1966) was a Romanian Jewish painter. He was born in Piatra Neamt, Romania, the son of a timber manufacturer who subsequently settled in Vienna with his family for a few years. It is there that young Victor attended elementary school. When his family returned to the country in 1914, he continued his studies at the Evangelical school in Braila; he began to be interested in zoology in that period. He then attended the Art School in Bucharest (1919-1921). He started painting landscapes in the manner of Paul Cézanne . Then, as he testified himself, he went through all the stages: "Dadaist, Abstractionist, Expressionist". In 1930 he settled in Paris. In 1935 Brauner returned to Bucharest. He joined the ranks of the Romanian Communist Party for a short while, without a very firm conviction. In 1938 he returned definitely to France.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nikolaus Lenau

Nikolaus Lenau was the "nom de plume" of the poet Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau (1802-1850). He was born at Schadat (Csatád in Hungarian) near Timisoara in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now Lenauheim in Timis county, Romania. He is considered the greatest modern lyric poet of Austria, and the typical representative in German literature of the pessimistic "Weltschmerz". Visit the Lenauheim website (in German).

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jacob Levy Moreno

Dr. Jacob Levy Moreno (1889-1974) was born in Bucharest, Romania. He was the founder of psychodrama, sociometry and the foremost pioneer of group psychotherapy. He was also a leading psychiatrist, theorist and educator. During his lifetime, he was recognized as one of the leading social scientists.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday, February 18, 2008

National Geographic Traveler 'Romania'

On February 14, 2008 it was launched in London the National Geographic Traveler ‘Romania, written by Caroline Juler.

Starting with a detailed introduction to the country’s history, food, land, and culture, the book explores in-depth each of the sections of the country, including Maramures in the north, Moldavia in the east, Wallachia in the south, and Crisana and Banat on the country’s western flank.

Special detailed features give comprehensive information on many diverse topics such as Romanian folk music, the bears and wolves that still prowl the hinterlands, the excellent Romanian wineries, the ethnic minority officially known as the Roma but to this day referred to as Gypsies, and the many myths that immediately come to mind whenever you mention the country’s Transylvania region.

Source: Romanian Cultural Centre London

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Golden Bear to Romanian short film

During the 58th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) - February 7-17, 2008 - the members of the international short film jury Marc Barbé, Ada Solomon and Laura Tonke awarded The Golden Bear for Best Short Film to O zi buna de plaja by the Romanian director Bogdan Mustata.

Saul Steinberg

Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) was a famous American cartoonist and illustrator, born in Râmnicu Sarat, Romania. He studied philosophy for a year at the University of Bucharest, then later enrolled at the Politecnico di Milano, studying architecture and graduating in 1940. Steinberg left Italy after the introduction of anti-Semitic laws in Italy. In 1942, The New Yorker magazine sponsored his entry into the United States. During World War II, he worked for military intelligence, stationed in China, North Africa, and Italy. After the war's end, he returned to work for American publications, merging an encyclopedic knowledge of European art with the popular American art form of the cartoon, to pioneer a uniquely urbane style of illustration. Visit The Saul Steinberg Foundation website.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Edward G. Robinson

Edward Goldenberg Robinson, Sr. (born Emanuel Goldenberg, 1893-1973) was an American stage and film actor born to a Yiddish-speaking Jewish family in Bucharest, Romania. He emigrated with his family to New York City in 1903. He attended Townsend Harris High School and then City College of New York, but an interest in acting led to him winning an American Academy of Dramatic Arts scholarship, after which he changed his name to Edward G. Robinson (the G. signifying his original last name). The American Film Institute considers him one of the best actors of the 20th century.

Source: Wikipedia