Municipal authorities have demolished the ornamental gateway leading to the Jewish cemetery in Iaşi, Romania, stating that frequent traffic accidents involving the structure — which arched over a narrow public roadway at a considerable distance from the actual cemetery entrance — had made it unstable. A City Hall statement posted on Facebook said the move was taken at the request of and in cooperation with the Iaşi Jewish community and the gate would be rebuilt in its original form and location, closer to the cemetery itself.
A Romanian Jewish community source said the Iaşi Jewish community did not have the funds to move the gate, so “the municipality took over the execution with their own funds.”
The City Hall statement said that “all architectural elements” of the gate had been “disassembled and preserved” and that the gate would be rebuilt “mounted on a new and solidly robust structure” near the parking area at the entrance of the cemetery. It said work should be completed by mid-June.
The gateway, whose central arch was flanked by two smaller arches, had been moved several times during the Communist rule of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the statement said. The demolished gateway was not the original, but was built in the 1980s. It was located around 1.6 km from the extensive Jewish cemetery itself, at the beginning of a long, winding roadway leading up to the burial grounds. Recently constructed houses line part of the route.
The gateway was not listed as a historic monument, the statement said, but “being a symbol of the presence of the Jewish Community in Iaşi, it was decided to build a new gateway to preserve and highlight the elements of the Jewish identity.”
For centuries, Iaşi was a leading center of Jewish life and culture, but today, the Jewish community numbers only several hundred.
The Jewish cemetery, off Pacurari street at the northwest edge of the city, was founded in the 19th century and has scores of thousands of graves. One of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Romania, it includes large mass graves of Holocaust victims as well as a section honoring Jewish soldiers who fell in World War I.
At Hanukkah, on December 3, 2018, the Great Synagogue in Iaşi, the oldest surviving synagogue in the country, was rededicated after a dozen years of fitful restoration work.