At Chaya Dwoira’s Grave, Radauti, 2009

At the tomb of Chaya Dvoira daughter of Moshe Mortko, d. 1905

At the tomb of Chaya Dvoira daughter of Moshe Mortko, d. 1905

Until I made my fourth trip to Radauti, in the first week of September 2009, I had no idea that any other female ancestor of mine other than Ettel Gruber was buried in the Jewish cemetery there. In fact, I really had no idea of who any other direct ancestor, female or otherwise, may have been!

Even though I have gone to Radauti at fairly regular intervals since 1978, I have never big obsessive about genealogy. And I still am not! But — as I have described in  posts at my Jewish Heritage blog site (some of which I have also posted here) — my cousins Arthur and Hugh, and Hugh’s son Asher came along on that trip, and they were interested in finding out some family history. Armed with a bit of information sent by our second cousin Rae Barent (daughter of the sister of my Grandma Becky — Rebecca Rosenberg Gruber Rifkin) and also with a bit of information found on the web, the four of us cousins had a session with Dorin Frankel, a local man who carries out genealogical research for people, and the registry books of the town hall. After Hugh, Arthur and Asher left, I spent another couple of hours with Mr. Frankel and the registry tomes.

From all this, I discovered that my great-great-grandmother — that is, Grandma Becky’s grandmother — Chaya Dwoira Herer, “also known as Halpern” (as the records state) is also buried in the Radauti Jewish cemetery. The records stated that she was the daughter of Moshe/Moses Mortko and Ruchel Hörer; was born in 1841 and died Feb. 22, 1905.

So — I searched for her tomb. The fantastically detailed material on the Radauti Jewish Heritage web site included a plot and row for a Chaya Dvora daughter of Moshe Mortko, who had died in 1905. Back I went to the cemetery, where, over the course of two days, I had already carried out an extensive documentation of the vast array of elaborately carved tombs of women.

Amid a forest of stones, Chaya Dvoira's tomb: the small one in the middle, at left

Amid a forest of stones, Chaya Dvoira’s tomb: the small one in the middle, at left

Mr. Popescu, the gold-toothed man who keeps the key and cares for the place, showed me the row indicated for Chaya Dwoira — and I entered the tilting forest of stones, again crunching through the undergrowth in my boots. I had to scrutinize the Hebrew epitaphs on each one, testing my basic Hebrew to its limits. After half an hour or so, there it was: I could read the name. The stone is smaller than some of the others, but it has the typical braided candlesticks and hands raised blessing the flames, beautifully carved. And there are still traces of red and green paint. I pulled away a strand of stray vines: not sure what, if anything, I actually felt. Glad to be there; cognizant of distance, time, realms; the passing of time and history. Wishing the others could have been there too. Wondering what she looked like!

The epitaph reads:

H[ere] L[ies] the modest and honest woman / Ms Khaya Dvora (Khaye Dvoyre] daughter of Moshe Mordechai [Moyshe Mordkhe] / deceased on the 16 [day] of the month / [of] Adar Rishon in the year / [5]664 (=1904) M[ay her] S[oul be] E[ntwined into the] T[apestry of] L[ife]

(This confuses matters slightly, as 5664 would be 1904, not 1905…)

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