Băseşti (Hungarian: Szilágyillésfalva) is a commune in Maramureş County, northern Romania composed of four villages: Băseşti, Odeşti, Sălişte and Stremţ.
US COMMISSION NO. RO/MM/53
Located in Maramureş judet at 47°29' 23°09', 253.7 miles NNW of Bucharest.
- Local authority should be Comunitatea Evreilor (Baia Mare), Str. Someşului Nr. 5, 4800 Baia Mare, Jud. Maramureş, Romania. Tel: (40-62) 211-231
- 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 Baia Mare or the Federation of Jewish Communities in Bucuresti.
- Caretaker: Mr. Marcel Mărieş, str. Morii nr. 225, Com. Băseşti 4829, Jud. Maramureş, Romania. Marcel is the son of Victor, the official caretaker on the Baia Mare list, who is now too old to care for the site.
- The cemetery in Basesti is well cared for by an exceptional caretaker named Marcel Maries. Marcel told us that he was always fascinated with the Jewish cemetery and has spent many hours staring at the stones, thinking about the writing, the pictures and the people who were buried here. He became caretaker several years ago when members of the Jewish community in Cluj came to clear the site and construct the concrete post and chain link fence. When the job was done, he offered to look after the cemetery, as no one else in town appeared to be interested. He knew that someone had to take responsibility so that all the initial effort of fixing it up wouldn't go to waste.
- Marcel is a young man with a growing family to support; and it is difficult for him to find the time to do all the work that he would like to do to make this cemetery look as beautiful as it should. He told us that every day he spends maintaining the cemetery means lost income for his growing family. Nevertheless, he has faithfully cleared the cemetery several times a year to make sure that the brush and undergrowth does not disturb the stones. In addition, he has righted a number of the smaller stones that have toppled and leaned over the years.
- Still, there is work to be done. Mr. Maries would like to repair some of the larger stones that are leaning heavily or have toppled, but this is not a job for one man alone. Another stone broke in half during the winter a year and a half ago. He requested some funds from Baia Mare to purchase some concrete to repair the stone, but as the community itself is strapped for funds. They never responded to his letters. Most recently, unknown thieves stole a 20-meter section of the chain link fence. Mr. Maries reported the incident to the police and has been very persistent in reminding them to continue their investigation. He is sure that they will not find it, but feels that it is best to make enough noise that people will learn that someone is looking after this site. Without any funds from the Jewish community in Baia Mare or the Federation in Bucuresti, he fears that the thieves will return to steal more of the fence or, worse, vandalize or steal some of the stones.
- Basesti reminded us of the curious predicament that many Jewish cemeteries are facing today. Over the past decade, a good deal of effort has been made to construct fences and find caretakers for these cemeteries. However, since that time, there has been little follow up activity. The caretakers are not paid for their activities; and some of them eventually abandon the time-consuming activity all together. Others, like Mr. Maries, continue to follow through on their promises and struggle, for a lack of funds, to keep the stones from cracking, toppling and crumbling, the fences from being stolen, and the cemeteries from being vandalized. Mr. Maries dream is that ". . . Jewish people from abroad will come to this cemetery and realize that it is a true museum, that it deserves to be cared for properly, that without the necessary funds, which don't amount to all that many dollars, this place will simply disappear over the years. It's a real shame."
- John DeMetrick and Christina Crowder (who have no further information) completed this survey on 30 June 2000 using a list of cemeteries known by Jewish Community in Baia Mare. Other documentation exists. 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 on 23 June 2000 and interviewed caretaker Mr. Marcel Mărieş.