There are no more Jews left in Oraviţa.

Iudit Cohen
Date of birth:
Getta Neumann
November 2012
Lod, Israel

My grandfather on my mother's side was a rabbi, he graduated from the rabbinical school in Vienna. He was from Borod, between Oradea and Cluj. They were nine brothers, many of them passed away when they were kids. His first job was in Biserica Albă - a small town in Yugoslavia, now Serbia - then he moved to Oraviţa, where he was an Orthodox rabbi for more than 20 years. The community was initially small, but during the war, residents of Reșița were displaced to Oraviţa (1), and the community grew significantly. We spent our summers there, and we took refuge in Oraviţa during the war, because in Timisoara, we lived close to the Electric Plant, which was a target for bombings.

My grandmother, my (2) rebbetzin, was from Alesd. She was small and pretty, always alert. She was the perfect housewife and had a pantry with hundreds of jars of jam. During the war, when we took refuge from Timisoara for a few days in Lugoj, they also came over, from Oraviţa. When they got back to the synagogue's courtyard, her jam was mixed with the holy books! It turned out that, in fact, it was not the Germans, nor the Nazi German army that did the havoc, but the anti-Semitic neighbours. On Friday evenings or on holidays, they would throw stones at the windows. Therefore, my family suffered a lot in Oraviţa. Emeric Marosi, who was the Rosh Hakol, the president of the Jewish Community in Resita, wrote a monograph about the Jews from Resita, in which a chapter is dedicated to my grandfather. I wrote to him that, during the war, the fascists vandalized the synagogue, but he corrected me, pointing out that the actual culprit were the neighbours.

Do you have memories from your childhood in Oraviţa?

Vaguely. In '47, when I was around eleven years old, I went there for the last time. My grandparents lived in the courtyard of the synagogue. There is nothing left of the synagogue or that house. The cemetery, where my grandfather is buried, was devastated, and the graves were scratched with fascist inscriptions. There are no more Jews left in Oraviţa.

My grandparents had an amazing kosher cuisine. Grandma made pickles in 20-litre jars! (We laugh) Grandpa was very strict about ritual food, he didn't allow exceptions. We would badger our grandmother into buying us parizer (similar to baloney), because there was a butcher's shop around the corner. I can still smell it! The olfactory memory is the most powerful! He once caught us eating in the backyard. ‘That's what you like, huh, parizer!” (He laughs) And there he was, about to take off his belt! He also made the traditional cuts; he was a shochet (3) and he also made Brit Mila (4). He did everything in the community.


  1. In 1941-1942, Jews were moved from villages and small towns to larger towns. The goal was to concentrate them in a few large centres, with the aim to deport them to concentration camps.
  2. The rabbi’s wife (Yiddish)
  3. Ritual butcher
  4. Ritual circumcision ceremony
Neumann, G. (2014) "Destine evreiești la Timișoara. Portretul comunității din perioada interbelică până azi", Bucharest: Hasefer Publishing House

The stories of the Jewish community

Read the testimonies of three generations of Jews and  discover the sinuous destiny of this community