Poland: Gwozdziec Synagogue Painting Project is under way

 

The summer workshops around Poland to reconstruct the intricate painted murals on the replicated ceiling of the 17th-century Gwozdziec synagogue have gotten under way! The workshops are taking place in five synagogues (active and non) around Poland: Gdansk, Sejny, Wroclaw, Szczebrzeczyn, and Kazimierz Dolny.

The project is being carried out by the Massachusetts-based  Handshouse Studio, in

Photo from Handshouse Studio

association with the forthcoming Museum of the History of Polish Jews — and the reconstructed ceiling and cupola will be a major installation in the new museum. Last year, students and expert timber framers collaborated to build an 80 percent scale copy of the wooden cupola itself, using traditional tools and methods. The Gwozdziec synagogue — like all the highly elaborate wooden synagogues in the region — was torched by the Nazis and destroyed in World War II.

Handshouse Studio has started up a blog to chronicle the ceiling painting process.

Here’s a report from Day 1:

The Gwozdziec Synagogue Reconstruction Project of summer 2012 has begun!!! We will be working for the next two weeks in a wonderful, active synagogue in Gdansk. This morning we met the four

Polish and one Belarusian student that will be working with us during the first painting session. They were immediately tossed into the signature Handshouse “organized chaos” as the delivery truck pulled up carrying all of the painting supplies and panels from Warsaw and the unloading commenced. 

In three busy hours, we transformed the synagogue into a worksite, with colorful test panels lining the walls and tables set

up with brushes, pigments to be mixed and blank panels to be painted. This flurry of activity settled down, followed by a press conference, hosted by the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, and attended by the mayor of Gdansk! 

Following this, Robert Supel and Piotr from the Museum gave a presentation about the mission of the exhibitions. Their statements were thoughtful and thought-provoking and gave us an important context in which to think about the work we are doing.

Photo from http://gwozdziec.tumblr.com/

 

Happily, the project successfully raised enough via a Kickstarter project to fund a documentary film about the project.

See more about the project — and Handhouse Studio — in this video:

 

 

 

 

  The summer workshops around Poland to reconstruct the intricate painted murals on the replicated ceiling of the 17th-century Gwozdziec synagogue have gotten under way! The workshops are taking place in five synagogues (active and non) around Poland: Gdansk, Sejny, … Continue reading

Ukraine: Report on Rohatyn Cemetery Project

Recovered Jewish Gravestones on Rohatyn Street. Photo courtesy of Marla Racher Osborn

Los Angeles native Marla Raucher Osborn has been researching her family history in Rohatyn, now in western Ukraine, for a number of years. She made her first visit there in 2008 and returned almost a dozen times in 2011 while living in nearby L’viv. Her research led to a hands-on project to recover scattered gravestones from Rohatyn’s destroyed Jewish cemeteries.

In the thoughtful essay now posted in the Projects Section of JHE In Focus, Ms. Raucher Osborn reports on the latest visit she and her husband, Jay Osborn, made to Rohatyn, in May 2012 — what they found and the dilemmas that now face them in going forward with their project. Though the details are specific to Rohatyn, the contexts, situations and challenges (from finding funding to deciding “what to do next”) correspond to those facing many other projects aimed at recovering memory and restoring Jewish cemeteries.

Earlier this year, in an essay that was posted in the “Issues” part of JHE’s “In Focus” section,she reflected on the meaning and impact of the process and discoveries, and how tracing family history became this much larger and broader project:

“Future Rohatyn visits suddenly had a clear purpose that had been revealed from the unanticipated revelation of these traces from the past: the headstones. The focus would be—HAD to be—to locate, photograph and document these headstones, and then arrange to move them to one of the former Jewish cemeteries for safekeeping and future study.”

Ms Raucher Osborn and her husband have made extensive photographic documentation of their research trips, and I encourage readers to follow the links to see these pictures (including disturbing images of recovered human remains) at the end of the In Focus  post.

We encourage comments from others who are engaged in similar projects!

Read the full article in the Projects Section of JHE In Focus

 

 

 

Los Angeles native Marla Raucher Osborn has been researching her family history in Rohatyn, now in western Ukraine, for a number of years. She made her first visit there in 2008 and returned almost a dozen times in 2011 while … Continue reading

Irish Jewish Museum Expansion Plans

Plans for a multimillion dollar expansion of the Irish Jewish Museum were laid out at an event at the Irish Consulate  in New York on May 22, hosted by the former Lord Mayor of Dublin Ben Briscoe and the Friends of the Irish Jewish Museum.

.According to an article on the Irish Central web site, “work on the project, which has received support from the Irish government, is expected to begin next year with an anticipated completion date of 2016. The goal is to raise $13 million, which includes a sinking fund for ongoing maintenance and operation.”

The article states that the redevelopment will increase the space of the museum, currently housed in a former Dublin synagogue, to six times its current area.

The current facilities display only a small fraction of the available collection, and the redevelopment of the museum will be enlarged to modern day standards that will allow the collection to be maintained and enhanced.

Plans for the new museum, which will be six times the size of the existing structure, will also include a Holocaust Memorial Center in connection with the Holocaust Education Trust of Ireland.

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Irish-Jewish-Museum-in-Dublin-promoted-in-New-York-Cit-154163385.html#ixzz1w4Bq2XEQ

Article in the Jerusalem Post about the project

A video on the museum’s web page explains the plans:

Plans for a multimillion dollar expansion of the Irish Jewish Museum were laid out at an event at the Irish Consulate  in New York on May 22, hosted by the former Lord Mayor of Dublin Ben Briscoe and the Friends … Continue reading

England — Plymouth synagogue celebrates 250th anniversary

Mazel tov! The synagogue in Plymouth, England has celebrated its 250th birthday. Founded in 1762, it is the oldest functioning Ashkenazic synagogue in the English-speaking world.

Writes the London Jewish Chronicle:

Its special anniversary celebrations on Sunday marked the community’s biggest day for a quarter of a century – since the service to mark the 225th year. […]

The moving anniversary service opened with Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks heading a procession of community leaders carrying Sifrei Torah around the decorative wooden bimah, still adorned by its 1762 brass candlesticks.

Elkan Levy, a regular visiting minister to Plymouth, led the davening, with the Chief Rabbi reciting the shul’s unique prayer for the Royal Family before giving his sermon in front of the Baroque ark – the only surviving one of its type in the country.

Lord Sacks described the building as “an architectural gem” and urged British Jews to visit. It was “deeply moving” that the anniversary should coincide with the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

 

Mazel tov! The synagogue in Plymouth, England has celebrated its 250th birthday. Founded in 1762, it is the oldest functioning Ashkenazic synagogue in the English-speaking world. Writes the London Jewish Chronicle: Its special anniversary celebrations on Sunday marked the community’s … Continue reading

London Synagogue Gets £1 million for restoration work

The Times of London reports that the 90-year-old Golders Green United Synagogue in London has secured £1 million towards wide-ranging restoration work of the red brick, Grade II listed building.

Some of the funding, reports The Times, will come from English Heritage.

Some of the cash also came from donations and charity grants but a total of £3million is needed for the complete renovation of the listed building. Applications have been sent to the Lottery Fund as well as a number of charitable trusts.

You can find a downloadable PDF file that details the restoration plans posted on the synagogue’s web site.

The Times of London reports that the 90-year-old Golders Green United Synagogue in London has secured £1 million towards wide-ranging restoration work of the red brick, Grade II listed building. Some of the funding, reports The Times, will come from … Continue reading

Lo Tishkach plans to survey Jewish cemeteries in Silesia

Plans are going ahead for complete surveys of Jewish cemeteries in Silesia, reports Lo Tishkach in its May 2012 newsletter.

A full list of burial sites according to district has already been drawn up and standardised Lo Tishkach mass grave and cemetery survey forms have now been prepared in Polish. Surveys in the region will start later this month with publication of reports beginning in the late summer.

The project was discussed at a seminar on Jewish cemeteries in Silesia organized by Lo Tishkach and held April 29 in Katowice, Poland.

 

 

 

Plans are going ahead for complete surveys of Jewish cemeteries in Silesia, reports Lo Tishkach in its May 2012 newsletter. A full list of burial sites according to district has already been drawn up and standardised Lo Tishkach mass grave … Continue reading

Austria — Klagenfurt Jewish Cemetery Restored

 

Good news from Austria. The Jewish cemetery in Klagenfurt,  in southern Austria, as been restored by the city after decades of neglect.

According to the Austrian Independent web site:

Among other renovations the entry door and memorial plaques have been rebuilt and restored and the completed and restored cemetery has now been officially handed over to the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde responsible for Jewish affairs in Austria.

The president of the Salzburg branch of the community, Marko Feingold, said he had always believed that the Jewish cemetery in Salzburg was the best in the country – but he added: “I now need to take a step back and say that the one in Klagenfurt is now the best.”

Also see the report on the Austrian Jewish Community web site.

 

  Good news from Austria. The Jewish cemetery in Klagenfurt,  in southern Austria, as been restored by the city after decades of neglect. According to the Austrian Independent web site: Among other renovations the entry door and memorial plaques have … Continue reading

Abandoned Jewish Cemetery in Jasa Tomic, Serbia

 

A local news portal in Serbia has run a lengthy article about the abandoned Jewish cemetery in the town of Jasa Tomic. It is written in Serbian, but google translate gives you the gist of how the writer of the article, Radovan Zubac, felt as he discovered this forgotten piece of local history…There are also some graphic photos.

  A local news portal in Serbia has run a lengthy article about the abandoned Jewish cemetery in the town of Jasa Tomic. It is written in Serbian, but google translate gives you the gist of how the writer of … Continue reading

Judaica Europeana brings online 3.7 million digital objects from Jewish collections

http://www.judaica-europeana.eu/Downloads/Venice_08_dwnld.jpg

Map of Venice Ghetto, 1775. Image fron Venice State Archives courtesy Judaica Europeana

Judaica Europeana – an international network of museums, libraries and archives that was launched in 2010 – announces that in its first two years it  uploaded 3.7 million digital objects to Europeana.eu, Europe’s cultural heritage portal and digital services platform. This immense amount of material has exceeded its target goal, creating  a vast digital archive of Jewish books, documents, objects, photographs, postcards, posters, music recordings and videos.

The digitized material ranges from 16-18th century documents on the Venice Ghetto from the Venice State Archives, the Jewish museums’ collections from Amsterdam, Athens, London and Toledo; the extensive archive and library collections of Frankfurt University and Alliance Israelite Universelle, the archival collections from the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and the Hungarian Jewish Archives in Budapest, and much more. A priceless collection of Yiddish press, books and music comes from the Medem Library in Paris: 4,000 recordings of Jewish music from East-Central Europe can be played online. This collection is complemented by the recordings and scores from the French Centre for Jewish Music. The National Library of Israel provided access to a collection of manuscripts and rare books, and will contribute more.

Europeana’s multilingual search engine, tagging facilities and vocabularies provide a unique finding aid for browsing all the collections at europeana.eu. To-date over 2,000 heritage institutions in 33 countries provide access to their digital collections to Europeana.

“We are delighted with the network’s achievements and shall continue to work together to bring more priceless collections online. We are planning more workshops, e-newsletters and exhibitions that will reach out to researchers, students, heritage professionals and the general public” said Lena Stanley-Clamp the Co-ordinator of Judaica Europeana and Director of the European Association for Jewish Culture. “The Linked Open Data environment is transforming the web. Thanks to Europeana, a leading force in this field, we are well placed to provide integrated access to Jewish heritage collections.” (For more information on Europeana and Linked Open Data see http://vimeo.com/36752317 )

The European Association for Jewish Culture and Judaica Europeana are members of the Europeana Network of heritage institutions from 33 countries. They are also partners in a new European project ‘Digital Manuscripts to Europeana’ http://dm2e.eu/ led by Humboldt University in Berlin.

http://www.judaica-europeana.eu/Downloads/Venice_08_dwnld.jpgJudaica Europeana – an international network of museums, libraries and archives that was launched in 2010 – announces that in its first two years it  uploaded 3.7 million digital objects to Europeana.eu, Europe’s cultural heritage portal and digital services platform. … Continue reading

Debate in UK on potential taxation changes for restoring historic buildings

 

Dr. Sharman Kadish, head of Jewish Heritage UK, has weighed in on the debate in the UK over the possibility that the Value Added Tax exemption for restoring historic buildings may be cancelled.

The Jewish Chronicle in London reports that Kadash called on the government to rethink plans to withdraw VAT exemption on repairs to listed buildings, claiming it would hinder the preservation of old synagogues.

She said the measure would have “a detrimental effect on historic synagogues – and churches – which want to improve their facilities by installing toilets, kitchens and disability access, which are vital in keeping these buildings in use”.
Added Dr Kadish, the founding director of Jewish Heritage: “It is bad enough that the guaranteed 100 per cent reimbursement of VAT on government-funded repair grants was withdrawn last year. In general, it is invidious that VAT is charged on repairs to old buildings but not on new-build projects. This merely encourages developers to demolish rather than to invest in regeneration, which is greener and makes economic sense.”

 

Read more

 

 

 

  Dr. Sharman Kadish, head of Jewish Heritage UK, has weighed in on the debate in the UK over the possibility that the Value Added Tax exemption for restoring historic buildings may be cancelled. The Jewish Chronicle in London reports … Continue reading