FAQ

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Door into orthodox synagogue in Presov, Slovakia

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WHAT IS “JEWISH HERITAGE EUROPE”?

Jewish Heritage Europe is an expanding web portal to a wide range of news, information and resources concerning Jewish monuments and heritage sites all over Europe. It is a project of the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe (RFHE) and builds on and expands a previous version of the site. JHE thanks and gratefully acknowledges the people who worked so hard on the original site, in particular Dr. Sharman Kadish, Dr. Syd Greenberg, Dr. Samuel D. Gruber and Jon Cannon.

The current coordinator of JHE is Ruth Ellen Gruber.

JHE aims to aggregate information, shed light on Jewish heritage issues, and stimulate discussion and exchanges among professionals and the interested public.

The original JHE was launched after a major conference on the Future of Jewish Heritage, held in Prague in 2004. The current version was conceived as a follow-up to an important seminar held in Bratislava, Slovakia in March 2009 that discussed the state of Jewish heritage sites in Europe as well as strategies for their restoration, use and upkeep. That seminar, attended by international Jewish heritage experts as well as by representatives from Jewish communities in more than a dozen countries, resulted in a statement of specific “Best Practices” about how to deal with Jewish heritage sites.

The statement made clear that:

The ongoing struggle for property and resource restitution has often overshadowed the practical issues of how to manage community properties already held, or those returned.

Proper care of these properties; often involving substantial costs, difficult planning and use issues, and demanding historical and architectural preservation concerns, have preoccupied many Jewish communities for years. In many cases, and especially for smaller Communities, the needs of these properties continue to stretch professional and financial resources. Everyday community needs often delay or prevent the attention that properties require.

Each Jewish community faces its own specific situations, and has unique needs, but there are many shared problems and needs that can be addressed collectively. Importantly, there are also solutions – many of which have been pioneered by Communities themselves – that can be shared, too.

(The full text of the Bratislava Statement, with the list of best practices, can be found in the “Resources” section of this web site.)

WHO COORDINATES JEWISH HERITAGE EUROPE?

Ruth Ellen Gruber in Krakow's Jewish quarter, Kazimierz. Photo © Chuck Fishman

JHE’s coordinator is Ruth Ellen Gruber, an award-winning journalist, author and researcher who has documented Jewish heritage and chronicled Jewish cultural developments and contemporary Jewish issues in Europe for more than 25 years. She is responsible for all content on the site, including the News Feed.

Ruth is the author of several books, including National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe, whose first edition came out in 1992; Upon the Doorposts of Thy House: Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today; and  Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe. Her reports, articles, photographs and essays have appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, Tablet Magazine,  the Jewish Quarterly Review, and Jewish Cultural Studies.

Her awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship; a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities; Visiting Scholar fellowships at the Hadassah Brandeis Institute and the Autry National Center; and Poland’s Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit. Ruth has been named the Arnold Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, for the spring semester, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS A JEWISH MONUMENT?

The International Survey of Jewish Monuments (ISJM) defines Jewish monuments very broadly — to include art, artifacts, and sites that are of significance to the history, religion and culture of Jews and Judaism.

Jewish Heritage Europe includes information on museums, exhibitions and more intangible material, but our primary focus in on built heritage, that is, physical sites and places, rather than art and artifacts.

These include:

– Archaeological sites with evidence of Jewish activity and/or settlement, or events significant in the history of Jews;

– Buildings such as synagogues, Jewish schools, mikvaot, houses of rabbis and other prominent people;

– Various types of former and actual Jewish quarters, ghettos, settlements, and neighborhoods;

– Cemeteries and other funerary sites and all the art and architectural elements they contain;

To a lesser extent JHE also focuses on Holocaust-related sites including ghettos; deportation centers; concentration, labor and death camps; killing sites and mass graves; memorials and monuments; and other places.

HOW DOES JEWISH HERITAGE EUROPE WORK?

JHE’s primary goals are to promote the identification, description, study, protection, preservation and appropriate use of Jewish monuments and heritage sites in situ and to foster an exchange of news, information, and expertise regarding these places and this process among a growing network of individuals, institutions and organizations.

A key feature of the web site is the news feed, which is updated on a regular basis with a variety of material.

As the site grows, we will post more and more information and links about where to turn for project funding, how to ask an expert about preservation and other problematic issues, and how to get involved with the preservation process on an individual, grass roots or institutional basis, how to integrate Jewish heritage into education and tourism, and the like.

The site also features an expanding database of resources and links – including bibliographic material, lists of sites, photo galleries, and links to web sites that focus on Jewish heritage sites and issues.

JHE also will include commissioned articles and book reviews by experts, as well as “In Focus” features on historical developments as well as specific sites, issues, projects, personalities, expertise, dilemmas, and experience.

HOW DOES ONE USE THIS SITE?

JHE has several purposes aimed at a variety of interests and users. The public news feed is updated on a regular and timely basis with links and articles including news, information and reports from around Europe. Readers of JHE may comment on the news feed posts — all comments will be monitored before being posted.

In addition, the JHE site includes a wealth of resources and information on Jewish heritage and monuments. Among other resources, there is a calendar with major events, exhibitions, conferences, Jewish culture festivals and the like. We do not intend to duplicate material that is already on the Web, so many of our resources are links to other web sites and databases. While we do not organize tourism or carry out genealogy work, the general public will be able to find resources and information that can aid travel to Jewish heritage sites and also family history research.

JHE also includes original content, such as commissioned articles and commentaries on specific heritage sites, issues, procedures and strategies.

As the site grows, we will be welcoming input from users. We will hope to encourage discussion about strategic issues and exchanges of expertise and also put interested parties in touch with each other.

We will post information and advice on what concerned individuals, institutions and organizations can do about preserving, protecting and promoting Jewish heritage, and about bringing potential preservation projects to the attention of funding sources, sponsors, experts and others involved in the field.

WHO IS SUPPORTING JEWISH HERITAGE EUROPE?

JHE is funded by the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe. For more information about their work and grant making, please visit their site at www.rothschildfoundation.eu

WHERE ELSE CAN ONE TURN FOR FUNDING?

A number of local and international foundations and NGOs operate or fund Jewish heritage projects. The World Monuments Fund, some Culture Ministries, government bodies and the European Union also have funding programs. Jewish Heritage Europe will post more information about funding as it becomes available.

14 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. Jewish walking tour in Danzig Zürich –Gdansk (Poland)
    Hello,

    I know that many tourists visiting POland are interested in its Jewish history.
    If you know of anyone searching for information or planning to visit the former Freiestadt Danzig:

    Private walking tour in Danzig – 3 hours
    Already in 15th century the first Jews frequently visited Gdansk and “Jewish Lane” existed on the bank of the Motlawa River.
    They traded in grain and timber, were engaged in the liberal professions, employed in crafts. You will also learn about this population in the Free City of Gdansk, Polish Jews and Jewish emigres from Soviet Union visiting Sopot as a popular sea resort in the mid-war period, about their emigration to the US, Argentine or Palestine, about 4 Kindertransporten, two synagogues burnt down and two others demolished, houses and shops looted on the Crystal Night and the saddest episode in the Nazi Times – the Jewish ghetto, deportations to Warsaw ghetto, Lodz ghetto and Stutthof Nazi Concentration Camp.

    You will hear about their post-war history and revival of Jewish life.

    Learn about Lesser Gieldzinski collection of #Danziger #Judaica sent to the Jewish Museum in New York.
    The itinerary includes different places associated with Gdansk Jews, some of them destroyed by the storms of history, disasters and war. The places where Jews lived and died in Gdansk for ages and made this City flurishing and prospering.

    Though both the Great Synagogue and Sopot Synagogue were destroyed and thousands of Jews were forced to emigrate in 1938-39, there are still some Jewish remnants: a New Synagogue, two old cemetaries, the sites of former Jewish hotels, houses, theatre, businesses, sports clubs and much more.

    • Dear Ben — you can sign up for both the monthly newsletter and the several-times-a-week newsfeed from our Home Page. There are sign up buttons under the map

  2. I would like to understand whether or not your organization deals with rehabilitation of synagogues in Albania.

    Thank you

    • We do not physically deal with rehabilitation of buildings in any country, but we are a clearing house for information and news about all issues dealing with Jewish built heritage. Sometimes we help people and institutions network and get in touch.

  3. Hello Erik,
    My father was a friend of your grandfather. When we arrived in New York in 1951, we stayed with him and his family before heading to California. I have a couple of his paintings, I can look for any letters. Unfortunately I don’t think I can help you with his past. We were in Portugal before emigrating here. My father was in Paris before that, and in Berlin before that. I’m not sure where their friendship began.
    Elizabeth

  4. Hello,
    My grandfather, BM Herko, was a fairly well known Jewish artist and student of Kathe Kollowitz in Berlin before WWII. He left Germany and eventually settled in New York. I have been contacted by various people about my Grandfather but I have little knowledge about his career in Europe. I know he was an apprentice of Kathe Kollowitz. Please help me find information on my Grandfather. I have provided a link to some of his works.
    Thank You.
    Erik Berman

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/96523261@N08/sets/72157633701948707/

  5. Jewish walking tour in Zürich – Switzerland
    Good afternoon

    I know that many tourists visiting Zürich are interested in its Jewish history.
    If you know of anyone searching for information:

    Private walking tour in the Old Town of Zürich – time 2 hours

    Jews have been living in Zürich since 1150. This guided walking tour
    is a rewarding journey of discovery for both visitors and locals.
    Come face to face with Zürich’s past through a selection of houses where
    Jews lived and their fate. You will be fascinated by the rich testimonies
    to bygone days, an experience that will take you back in time.

    Highlights of the tour:

    One of the oldest mural paintings (1300) in Europe discovered in a jewish house.
    Trapdoor under the Lindenhof
    Middle Ages sewer in the Altstadt.
    Cistern dated 1300 in a shop

    For info 076 562 26 48 Ester
    8ester5@gmail.com
    Thank you

  6. Our Havurah in Sun City,Oro Valley,AZ is holding a luncheon in early January 2013,with
    a theme “Lands of Our Ancestors” We are virtually all of Askenazi descent.

    I am aware that tis is rather short notice. However I was just given the task to obtain the display material..We would appreciate any such material that would be availabel to us. . depicting Jewish life in Europe fro 1890-1930
    Sincerely,
    Irwin Brewster
    Display Coordinator
    14491 N.ky Trail
    Oro Valley,AZ 85755-6685

  7. I’m looking for a Jewish themed but not religious Central or Eastern European tour for my husband, myself, and two grown children (ages 26 and 28) to give us a better sense of our Jewish heritage and ancestry. Are there any tour groups you would highly recommend? Thank you!

    • I live in Jerusalem and go to Krakow each summer.
      When do you want to tour
      There is a very good tourism office in Kazimierz the Jewish district of Krakow called
      Yarden spelt Jarden
      http://jarden.pl/page.php?t=tourist_agency
      They are ideal for Poland and nearby countries in- Eastern Europe.
      I suggest that you contact them.
      I can also recommend others write to me at email above.

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