The Last Jew of Sighisoara & Transylvania - Lost and Found

1st October 2010

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The Last Jew of Sighisoara

a talk by Jessica Douglas-Home, on Friday 15 October 2010


Transylvania – Lost and Found

a talk by Caroline Fernolend, on Thursday 21 October 2010

at the Embassy of Romania, Washington DC

In two talks meant to offer the public a fuller image of present-day Transylvania, the president and vice-president of the Mihai Eminescu Trust will present their organisation’s work, focusing on the restoration of the Jewish heritage of Transylvania, and the development of the Saxon villages as vibrant self-sustaining, rural societies. The events are part of the exhibition Transylvania – Heritage and Future, which is centred on the Saxon villages of South-Eastern Transylvania, known in German as the Siebenburgen, and their recent rebirth as self-sustaining rural communities.

The Last Jew of Sighisoara

a talk by Jessica Douglas-Home, President of the Mihai Eminescu Trust Friday 15 October 2010, at 6.30pm, The Embassy of Romania to the United States, 1607 23rd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008. Entrance is free, but RSVP is mandatory at by Tuesday 12 October 2010. Transylvania, still a place with a very diverse ethnic make-up, used to be home to a flourishing Jewish community. The turmoil of the 20th century, brought first by the extreme right and then by the communists, made this community all but disappear, its places of worship falling into disrepair. Erich Raducanu, known as the last Jew of Sighisoara, cared for his synagogue for over 50 years. He became an inspiration for the Mihai Eminescu Trust and is the subject of Jessica Douglas-Home’s talk. The Trust, chaired and founded by Jessica Douglas-Home, has started to protect and conserve Transylvanian synagogues, first in Sighisoara and now in Medias, after its successful restoration programmes aimed at Orthodox, Lutheran and Catholic churches. The evening’s presentation will include examples of the extraordinary buildings which the Trust strives to save from oblivion, and of those which are already restored to their former glory. Jessica Douglas-Home is a painter and writer. She has written articles for The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian and has written two books: ‘Once Upon Another Time’, on her experiences in Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall (Michael Russell Publishing, July 2000), and ‘Violet’, about musician and muse Violet Gordon Woodhouse (Harvill Press, October 1997). She founded the Mihai Eminescu Trust in 1986, during the last years of Ceausescu’s dictatorship, to help dissident Romanian academics keep in touch with western thought. In 1988, by alerting the world to Ceausescu’s plan to bulldoze Romania’s rural architecture, the Trust played a part in saving hundreds of beautiful medieval villages from destruction. After the dictator’s fall, the Trust turned its attention to the country’s cultural revival and rural regeneration. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Transylvania – Lost and Found

a talk by Caroline Fernolend, Vice-President of the Mihai Eminescu Trust Thursday 21 October 2010, at 6.30pm, The Embassy of Romania to the United States, 1607 23rd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008. Entrance is free, but RSVP is mandatory at by Tuesday 19 October 2010. Transylvania was home to a large German-speaking Saxon population from the 12th century until the 1980s which, during the bleakest years of the communist regime, was allowed to leave the country in exchange for “economic aid” provided by West Germany. As a result, the villages remained deserted; fields, historic farm houses and ancient fortified churches lay derelict. Caroline Fernolend’s presentation focuses on several chapters of village renaissance after the Saxon exodus: an overview of the Trust’s projects and how they engage and empower entire communities; the vernacular architecture; the revival of living traditions; the training of villagers; the renewal of their sense of purpose; and their eventual emergence as self-sustaining rural societies. Caroline will show how the villagers of Southern Transylvania, by respecting their legacy and marrying it to modern, environmentally sensitive infrastructure, are en route to forging a life fit for the 21st century. Caroline Fernolend is the vice-president of the Mihai Eminescu Trust, having worked for Trust since 1999. She is a native Transylvanian Saxon and has been involved for over twenty years in her local community’s efforts to maintain and restore their beautiful traditions and buildings. She has brought together a whole range of projects including the development of sustainable, local farming, small enterprises and discerning tourism, all of which have brought growing prosperity in the area. She has won numerous national and international awards for this pioneering work. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


The exhibition Transylvania – Heritage and Future is open from 14 to 31 October 2010, Monday to Friday, 10.30am to 5.30pm, at The Embassy of Romania to the United States (1607 23rd Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008). Guided tours at 1pm and 4pm. FREE ADMISSION to exhibition, guided tours and all events. The official opening (by invitation only) takes place on Thursday 14 October 2010, at 6.30pm. Details from . The exhibition is part of a larger program promoting the cultural values of Romania in Washington DC, and celebrating 130 years of diplomatic relations between Romania and the USA. It will be officially opened by the Romanian Ambassador, HE Adrian Vierita, and by the President of the Mihai Eminescu Trust, Mrs Jessica Douglas-Home. RSVPs and further information: Contact person: Ramona Mitrica, . For full program and updates, please check “Transylvania – Heritage and Future” is organised by The Mihai Eminescu Trust, The Embassy of Romania in Washington, The Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, and The Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism, with the support of the Ratiu Foundation.

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THE MIHAI EMINESCU TRUST 63 Hillgate Place, London W8 7SS, UK / 10 Cojocarilor Str., Sighisoara, Romania