The Jewish Heritage Europe web site is back online after being down for more than a week because of server problems.
There may be a few glitches in the next day or two, but the techs tell us that the site is stable — and we hope it stays that way!
Thanks for your patience and understanding, and apologies for the inconvenience.
The Jewish Heritage Europe web site is back online after being down for more than a week because of server problems. There may be a few glitches in the next day or two, but the techs tell us that … Continue reading →
Jewish cemetery in Karczew, Poland, not far from Otwock (2006)
In our new Have Your Say op-ed, Steven D. Reece, the president of The Matzevah Foundation, explains why he, a Baptist minister, founded an organization that restores Jewish cemeteries in Poland. The Christian response to this legacy of the … Continue reading →
There are more than 130 Jewish museums in Europe — of all types, from big state, municipal or other public institutions such as the POLIN museum in Warsaw and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, to small private initiatives or museums run by Jewish communities. Some are high-tech or have thousands of items and artifacts; others are small displays; for others, the synagogue or other building in which they are situated is the primary exhibit.
Visitor to the POLIN museum, Warsaw
The survey states its goals were manifold:
We aimed to generate a comprehensive picture of the Jewish museum landscape across Europe, and to identify the most pressing issues,challenges and needs faced by these institutions. We wanted to learn about the mission, philosophy and methodology of Jewish museums, and better understand their role and position in the cultural and educational realm at large.
We were also interested in the level of professionalization of Jewish museums, both in staff training, collection preservation and cataloguing, management, and the ways in which Jewish museums communicate and arrange partnerships with one another. With a better understanding of these issues, we want now to assess the resources needed and the funding priorities for the next five to ten years.
The questionnaire was sent to 120 institutions in 34 countries and we received 64 completed forms from 30 countries. The questions addressed eleven broad topics: organisation, collections, permanent and temporary exhibitions, facility, visitor services, public programmes, visitor demographics, marketing and PR, finances, future plans and needs.
This diverse sample enabled us to get, for the first time, a quasi-comprehensive picture of the Jewish museum landscape in Europe, from small community museums to landmarks of “starchitecture;” from institutions boasting thousands of rare objects to others mostly text panels — or technology-based; from museums employing scores of professional staff and interns to synagogues-turned-exhibition halls run by volunteers for a few hours a month.
That was precisely the challenge: the large and numerous discrepancies between institutions, depending on their location, their financial and human resources, their political and economic context, the type of visitors they receive, and other contextual considerations.
The results point to four major findings:
1. Transition from museums to multi-purpose hubs;
2. Lack of collaboration and partnerships;
3. Tension between particularistic and universalistic missions;
The wide-ranging survey of Jewish Museums in Europe carried out by Dr. Brigitte Sion of the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe has been published online, following its formal presentation at the annual conference of the Association of European Jewish Museums. (We … Continue reading →
Cover of Christian Herrmann’s 2017 calendar shows the Jewish cemetery in Vadul Rascov, Moldova
For the second year in a row, the photographer Christian Herrmann, whose work we have featured on JHE, is offering a gift for the upcoming Hanukkah and Christmas season — a 12-month calendar illustrated with his photographs, which is available for free download in English and German versions.
The 2017 calendar includes photos of Jewish heritage sites in Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and Romania.
Christian has exhibited his photographs and produced a book of them, and he describes his travels on his Vanished World blog. He offers the calendar as a gift that he would like to present to his readers, “who accompanied my trips through Eastern Europe’s Jewish past and present.”
You can CLICK HERE to find out more about the calendar, preview its pictures, and download the PDF.
For the second year in a row, the photographer Christian Herrmann, whose work we have featured on JHE, is offering a gift for the upcoming Hanukkah and Christmas season — a 12-month calendar illustrated with his photographs, which is available … Continue reading →
Photo courtesy of the Faculty of History, Vilnius University
Jewish gravestones that were used to build the steps to the main entrance to a hospital in Vilnius were removed last week and taken to the site of the vast Užupis Jewish cemetery where they once stood, joining thousands of other such fragments now stored there.
The dismantling of the main entry steps of the Antakalnyje Vilnius Clinical Hospital is the latest in a series of moves by city authorities to rescue Jewish gravestones that were uprooted under the Soviet regime and used in construction. The Užupis Jewish cemetery, which had tens of thousands of burials, was razed in the 1960s and essentially used as a quarry for building material. Thousands of gravestones and fragments have been recovered and returned to the cemetery site.
The case of the hospital steps was brought to public attention in September by Sergey Kanovich, the co-founder of the MACEVA NGO, which catalogues, documents and preserves Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania. Kanovich posted photos of the steps on Facebook and tagged Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, saying, The “entrance to the clinic in Antakalnis is made by Soviets from the headstones of our ancestors. But it is we today who continue this disgrace.”
The recovery process began more than a decade ago, when gravestones that had been used to construct the grand stairway that led to the Trade Union headquarters were removed. Some of them — retaining the shape of how they were cut to be stairs — were used to construct a memorial at the Užupis cemetery.
A man examines the memorial made from gravestones that had been used to build stairs
In cooperation with the municipality, a team of history students from the University of Vilnius is working to catalogue and document all the fragments. The team is led by Vilnius University Professor Jurgita Verbickienė, a representative of Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture of Lithuania Audronė Vyšniauskienė, and a PhD history student Rūta Anulytė, former Program Director at the MACEVA.
Photo courtesy of Ruta Anulyte
Ms. Anulyte told JHE that so far the team has inspected nearly 2,500 fragments. All are being stored in a parking lot, “situated in the heart of ruined cemetery.” Temporary signage installed at the site reads, in Lithuania and English: “Since August 23, 2016 at this territory of Vilnius Užupis Jewish cemetery, dismantled gravestones of various places of the City will be brought to the site. Worked carried out by The City Municipality of Vilnius”
Samuel Gruber has written an extensive post on his blog about the process of recovery of these stones, including photos of the new signage as well as the sites. In it, he raises questions about the future of the stones and fragments, as well as the process of recovery.
No decisions have been made about how to protect and present these pieces and the thousands of similar ones still embedded in the walls and pavements of Vilnius and surrounding areas. […] I am hopeful that Mayor Šimašius will continue the process, even though he will face some resistance from property owners. I suggest that all these gravestones be declared objects of cultural heritage and that their removal by the Soviets be recognized as both part of a process of ethnic cleansing and property theft. All identified stones should be legally recognized as stolen property and as with any other stolen property, every effort should be made to return them to their place and owner of origin. If this principle is fully recognized then financial arrangements can be more effectively discussed and arranged to assist present-day owners – who most often have nothing to do with the original theft and reuse.
Jewish gravestones that were used to build the steps to the main entrance to a hospital in Vilnius were removed last week and taken to the site of the vast Užupis Jewish cemetery where they once stood, joining thousands of … Continue reading →