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BREB: Maramureş judet [Alternate names: Breb], Bréb], Brebu, Brébb] PDF Print E-mail

Alternate names: Breb [Rom, Yid], Bréb [Hun], Brebu, Brébb. 47°45' N, 23°54' E,  13 miles S of Sighetu Marmaţiei (Sziget). Jewish population: 152 (in 1880), 224 (in 1920)


Alternate Hungarian name: Măragyulafalva. Located in Maramureş judet at 4745 2354, 252.0 miles NNW of Bucharest.

  • Local authority should be Comunitatea Evreilor (Maramures Sighet), str. Basarabiei 8, Sighetu Marmatei, Jud. Maramureş, Romania. Tel: (40-62) 311-652.
  • Regional authority: Federation of Jewish Communities Romania, Str. Sf. Vineri 9-11, Bucureşti, Tel: (40-1) 613-2538, 143-008. Contact: Mr. Alex Silvan
  • Interested: Jewish community in Sighet or the Federation of Jewish Communities in Bucuresti.
  • Quasi-caretaker: Mr. Vasile Sima, Breb nr. 80, Com Ocna Şugatag, Jud. Maramures, Romania. Mr. Sima's family owns the land on which the cemetery is located and stated that he had done a minimal amount of clearing so that the stones were visible and not obstructed. He stated that he did not remember his family ever being approached by anyone from the Jewish Community in relation to the site.

The main road to the village leads down a steep hill from the road between Ocna Sugatag and Budesti. The cemetery is approximately 1km before the first house in the village off of a dirt cart track (inaccessible by car). The most reliable way to find the cemetery would be to go down to one of the first houses and ask for someone to show you how to reach it. The cemetery is located on a steeply inclined hillside and is a short walk from the road, which descends into the village. Adjacent to the cemetery is a regularly maintained field that was being worked by Mr. Vasile Sima with whom we had the pleasure of speaking. Mr. Sima informed us that his family owns the land where the cemetery is situated. Mr. Sima said that no one had ever visited from the Jewish community in Sighet and he had never been appointed the "official" caretaker of the cemetery. It was obvious that the cemetery had not been maintained for many years. From our vantage point in the field, only the first couple of rows were visible before a massive wall of dense vegetation prevented the eye from traveling further. On closer inspection, we determined that some 60-70 percent of the site was hidden from view. Furthermore, due to the fact that the cemetery is located on a steep hill, many of the stones have toppled and others lean severely. Mr. Sima told us when he was younger, during the 1970's, he and his father would spend some time clearing the vegetation in the cemetery because he and his family worked the adjacent fields. Mr. Sima also told a story handed down in his family that when the Jewish community of the village found out that they would be deported, they buried their religious books within the cemetery boundary.

This site is threatened in several ways. Most importantly, it appears that there is no "officially" appointed caretaker. A regularly maintained site helps people to realize that the property "belongs to someone" and is not free for the taking; here in Maramureş, a site that "looks like a cemetery" is more likely to be treated with respect. In this case, it does not appear that stones have been stolen or that the cemetery has suffered deliberate vandalism. However, due to the fact that the site is situated on a steep hillside, many of the stones have toppled and others are leaning severely. Many of these toppled stones already are buried partially in the hillside as it slowly slides down. They eventually will become completely hidden. Unfortunately, the stones are toppling face up, which will quicken their erosion by several degrees; water and soil gather on the surfaces and erode the stone at a rapid rate. If money were made available for construction of a fence and the re-erection of the stones, this would be a beautiful cemetery. Mr. Sima seemingly would be an appropriate and willing caretaker.

The isolated rural (agricultural) hillside has no sign or marker. Reached by a public road and private property, access is open to all with no wall, gate, or fence. The present size of cemetery is by on-site estimate is 33m x 15m. (Difficult because the cemetery is on a steep hillside covered with brush and in a triangular shape as it stretches up the hill. 40 gravestones are in situ: 1 standing straight up, 22 toppled, 14 leaning, and 3 broken. Possibly, more stones are hidden in the underbrush. The vegetation overgrowth a seasonal problem that is preventing access and a constant problem that is disturbing stones. Water drainage is good all year and is not a problem. The marble, granite, limestone, and sandstone flat shaped, smoothed and inscribed tombstones with carved relief decoration have traces of painting on their surfaces and Hebrew inscriptions. No known mass graves. The present owner of the cemetery property is a private individual. The cemetery property is now used for Jewish cemetery use only. Properties adjacent are agricultural. Compared to 1939, the cemetery boundaries enclose the same area (probable.) The cemetery never is visited. Theft of stones is the primary problem encountered between 1945 and the present, although none appear to be missing. Clearing of vegetation by local non-Jewish residents is current care. No structures. Security (uncontrolled access), Weather erosion, and vegetation are moderate threats.

John DeMetrick and Christina Crowder (who have no further information) completed this survey on 30 June 2000. Further inquiries about the site could be addressed to the Jewish community in Baia Mare or the Federation of Romanian Jewish Communities in Bucuresti. They visited the site June 2000 and interviewed Mr. Vasile Sima, owner of the cemetery site.


[UPDATE] Photos by Charles Burns [July 2018]


Last Updated on Sunday, 08 July 2018 20:04
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