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Rachel Frankel and Aviva Ben-Ur Publish Remant Stones: The Jewish Cemeteries of Suriname: Epitaphs

Architect Rachel Frankel and historian Aviva Ben-Ur have produced a massive collection of funerary inscriptions documented, transcribed and translated from Jewish cemeteries in Suriname. Remnant Stones: The Jewish Cemeteries of Suriname (Hebrew Union College Press, ISBN-13: 9780878202249) , is one of a projected two volumes and is the result of almost a decade of work in Jodensavanne, or Jews’ Savannah, the 17th and 18th-century Jewish plantation settlement in the South American jungle, and in Paramaribo, Suriname's capital. The 679-page book weighs almost as much as some of the documented matzevot!

Jodensavanne is located on the Suriname River, about thirty kilometers from Paramaribo (also the site of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries). The settlement was surrounded by Sephardi Jewish owned sugar plantations. The International Survey of Jewish Monuments has been one of several sponsors of this project since its inception. Rachel Frankel presently serves as vice-president of ISJM. I congratulate Rachel and Aviva on the publication of this important documentary work, and I look forward to the publication of the explanatory and interpretive volume soon.

Remnant Stones
is really the second volume of two, though it has been published first. It examines three Sephardi cemeteries, with graves that date from 1666 to 1904 and one Ashkenazi cemetery in Paramaribo, whose monuments date from the 1680s to the late nineteenth century. By the early 19th-century, the Dutch colony's Jewish community existed in an often-acrimoneous split, with most Sephardim living in Jodensavanne and most Ashkenazi Jews livign in Paramaribo. The split existed among the living, and also the dead. Sephardi and Ashkenazi maintaied separate cemeteries, all of which are documented in Remnant Stones. The 1,700 epitaphs were written and carved in Portuguese, Hebrew, Spanish, Dutch, Aramaic, and French. They are included in their original language and in translation. Many photos accompany the catalogue text. Remnant Stones includes a fold-out scaled plan of each of the cemeteries showing stone orientation and locations.

An important part of the research projects was the documentation of the former
Beraha VeSalom (Blessing and Peace) Synagogue, dedicated in 1685 but now a ruin, and also an analysis of the town plan, both topics of which are discussed in detail in the still-to-published volume, which also should put the extensive collection of funerary epitaphs compiled in the volume in a broader context. --- SDG

Dr. Marilyn Chiat Lectures at Museum at Eldridge Street about "Preservation: Saving and Praising the Past"
Sunday, June 1 at 11 AM

Longtime ISJM member Dr. Marilyn Chiat will speak at the Museum at Eldridge Street on June 1, 2008, as part fo the NEH-funded Academic Angles Series.  Dr. Chiat will survey the history of the effort to preserve religious structures in the United States , and the issues related to their restoration and reuse. Particular emphasis will be placed on the restoration of the Eldridge Street Synagogue and B'nai Abraham Synagogue in Virginia, Minnesota. Free event

Museum at Eldridge Street * 12 Eldridge Street * New York, New York 10002
Tel: 212.219.0888 * Fax: 212.966.4782


Before the Flame Goes Out Exhibition to Open at Museum of Biblical Art in March 2008

ISJM will co-sponsor an exhibition in 2008 at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City.  The exhibition will be based on the ongoing ISJM documentation project Before the Flame Goes Out (BFGO), a multi-disciplinary work by Vincent Giordano and an ISJM advisory team.  BFGO documents the history, art, architecture and community of Romaniote (Greek) Jews from Ioannina, Greece in Ioannina and New York City.  The Museum of Biblical Art exhibition will include photographs by Vincent Giordano of the synagogues, ritual art and prayer and life cycle services from Ioannina and New York. The exhibition will open in late February 2008 in conjunction with the larger "Treasures from the Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore)."


Samuel Gruber to Speak about work of ISJM at  Temple Society of Concord in Syracuse, NY (USA)

On Sunday, November 18th at 10:00 a.m. at Temple Society of Concord, 918 Madison Street, Syracuse, the Avodah Chapter of NA’AMAT and the Sisterhood of TSOC will jointly sponsor Dr. Samuel Gruber’s lecture, “Jewish History in Stone (and Other Materials): The Documentation and Preservation of Jewish Historic Sites.” In this free, illustrated lecture Dr. Gruber will discuss his involvement with the work of the International Survey of Jewish Monuments, and the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, as well as the efforts of other organizations to record, protect and preserve historic Jewish sites worldwide.  These projects are ongoing in Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and the United States.  Presently, Dr. Gruber is involved in over thirty research, documentation, conservation, planning and preservation projects worldwide, including the documentation of a Greek-Jewish synagogue on New York’s Lower East Side, the excavation and preservation of the Belz Hasidic Compound in Ukraine, and the commemoration of Holocaust sites in the Baltic and other countries.

NA’AMAT, the largest women’s organization in Israel, works to improve the status of women and provides educational and social services for women, children, teenagers and families.  The organization sponsors and promotes day care facilities, technological high schools, legal aid bureaus, women’s rights centers, centers for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence, community centers, women’s clubs, business women’s networking, social integration and education for new immigrants, and assistance to single-parent families.

ISJM's Samuel Gruber and Marilyn Chiat to participate in NEH "We the People" Grant to Eldridge Street Synagogue, NYC

The Museum at Eldridge Street (New York), part of the Eldridge Street Project, has received a National Endowment of the Humanities "We the People" grant to help evaluate exhibits and programming, and to usher in the next phase as the Museum. The historic synagogue, under restoration for many years, will re-open to the public later in 2007.  The panelists who reviewed the Eldridge application considered the plan “a model for how historic religious institutions can be an effective means not only of interpreting religious practices and traditions but also of connecting  place to broader, important historical, social, and cultural themes, such as the immigrant experience.”  ISJM President Samuel Gruber, and ISJM member Marilyn Chiat are among eight scholars who will participate in the year-long interdisciplinary project, involving historians and preservationists.  Other participating scholars are Deborah Dash Moore, Daniel Soyer; Tony Michels, Jeffrey Shandler; Riv Ellen Prell and Jeffrey Gurock.  The scholars will work with the Eldrisge staff, and each will deliver a public lecture during the year.

ISJM Represented at Jewish Architecture in Europe Conference in Braunschweig, Germany

ISJM President Samuel Gruber participated in the international conference Jewish Architecture in Europe held at the Technische Universitat Braunschweig in Braunschweig, Germany from October 8-11, 2007.  The conference was organized by the Bet Tfila - Research Unit for Jewish architecture in Europe, at joint project of the Technische Universitat Braunschweig and the Center for Jewish Art of Hebrew University.  Dr. Gruber presented the paper "Medieval Synagogues of the Mediterranean Region," and read of paper for ISJM founding member, Prof Carol Herselle Krinsky, "Is There Jewish Architecture."  Other participants included Bezalel Narkiss, Sergey Kravtsov, Vladimir Levin, Karin Kessler and Zoya Arshavsky (Israel), Dominique Jarrasse (France), Eleonora Bergman (Poland), Rudolf Klein (Hungary), Maros Borsky (Slovakia) Jaroslav Klenovsky (Czech Republic) Attilio Petruccioli (Italy), Elko Hazan (Bulgaria), Alla Sokolova (Russia), Sharman Kadish (Great Britain), Miquel Espinosa (Spain), Isabel Haupt (Switzerland), and Harmen Thies, Simon Paulus, Tobias Lamey, H-Christoph Dittscheid, Hermann Simon, Daniela Gauding, Ingolf Herbarth, Hans-Cristof Haas, Heidi Vormann, Mirko Przystawik, Sonja Beyer, Ulrich Knufinke and Ralf Busch (Germany).
Last updated: May 28, 2008

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