International Survey of Jewish Monuments
International Survey of Jewish Monuments
News:  August 26 - September 6, 1999
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Contents:
1. To Our Members and Readers: New Year Greetings & Thanks from ISJM
2. Jewish Sites Appear Undamaged in Turkish and Greek Earthquakes
3. Shanghai's Ohel Rachel Synagogue Site of Rosh Hashanah Services
4. Jewish Gravestones Discovered in Staszow, Poland
5. Government Report of US Holocaust Museum Causes Stir

1. To Our Members and Readers: New Year Greetings & Thanks from ISJM

On behalf of the International Survey of Jewish Monuments I would like to thank all our members, supporters and readers who have sustained the organization over the past year.  ISJM offers all of them - all of you - a happy, healthy, productive New Year, and we hope for a world of peace where cultural expression can flourish.  We also ask your forgiveness and forbearance of our many failings - all those unanswered emails, letters misplaced under mounds of paper, overly-confident pronouncements, etc.  ISJM aims to serve, but as a tiny organization sometimes our intentions exceed our abilities.  With your help we'll do better in 5760!!!  If you're not an ISJM member, I urge you to start the New Year right and join now.  Get a membership form at www.isjm.org.

L'Shana Tova Tikatevu

Sam Gruber, President

2. Jewish Sites Appear Undamaged in Turkish & Greek Earthquake

Despite the widespread loss of life and damage to buildings throughout much of northeast Turkey during the earthquake that shook the region in August, there appears to have been little or no damage to synagogues and other Jewish sites in the area, according early reports published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.  The Jewish Community of Turkey is actively participating in ongoing relief efforts in the country.

It also appears that no Jewish sites have suffered in any substantial way from the recent earthquake that hit Athens, Greece, last week.  According to Moses Constantini, the head of the Central Board of Jewish Communities, both synagogues will be open this weekend for Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  In addition, the Jewish community of Athens reports that it has plans to restore the Ianniotiki synagogue, built in 1905.  It is an historic building listed by the Greek Ministry of Culture.

3. Shanghai's Ohel Rachel Synagogue Site of Rosh Hashanah Services

Shanghai's Jewish Community will celebrate Rosh Hashanah with services in the Ohel Rachel Synagogue - the first High Holiday services held in the building in fifty years. "This is a great milestone for our community as it is the first time we will be praying in a synagogue." Said Rabbi Shalom Greenberg.

Jewish merchants and traders came to Shanghai from Iraq via India throughout the 1800s.  The Jewish community in the city especially flourished between the world wars when Sephardic Jews of fabulous wealth built lavish palaces and also sponsored the erection of new synagogues.  Ohel Rachel Synagogue was built by Sir. Jacob Sassoon in the 1920s.  During World War II Shanghai was filled with Jews fleeing Europe.  The Jewish community at its height numbered about 24,000 and there were eight to 10 synagogues.   But in 1949, the communists seized the synagogues, including Ohel Rachel, and outlawed worship.  Gradually, over the past decade, some religious expression has been permitted.  In 1998, United States Fist Lady Hillary Clinton and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited the synagogue, following a restoration effort to which the Chinese government is reported to have contributed $US 70,000.

In a related event, the Israel Camerata Chamber Orchestra performed at the Shanghai Center on the evening of September 4th.

For more in formation about the Jewish Community in China consult www.chinajewish.org, or contact

Rabbi Shalom Greenberg
1007 West Tower, Shanghai Center
1376 Nanjing Xi Lu
Shanghai, 200040 CHINA
.6279-7164

4. Jewish Gravestones Discovered in Staszow, Poland

Jack Goldfarb, a survivor from the Polish town of Staszow, has devoted himself in recent years to preserving the memory of the Jewish history of the town.  His self?appointed mission has taken him to Staszow sixteen times.  With the help of sympathetic townspeople, he has erected a Holocaust memorial monument, affixed remembrance plaques to sites of former Jewish landmarks, and restored the ancient Jewish cemetery whose gravestones were carted off by the Nazis and used as paving blocks in Staszow's streets.  After the war, the town's mayor removed the gravestones and had them stored. With no Jews left in Staszow, the stones were eventually sold to a construction company and disappeared from the town forever.

Goldfarb reports that arriving in Staszow last November, he was shown a 4?foot high granite headstone with clearly inscribed Hebrew lettering leaning against a wall in a building courtyard in the town.  It bore the inscription, "Itzcha Josef ben Yehudah Leibush Hacohen. Died in 1933."  The name and date of death positively identified it as that of Goldfarb's paternal grandfather.  A building tenant explained that the stone had been dug up two years before to install a gas line.  Too heavy to move further, the gravestone was left resting against the wall.  Because it had lain in sandy soil face down since 56 years ago (when the Germans were in Staszow), the inscription, even its red coloring, remained clearly visible.  Goldfarb immediately arranged for workmen to transport the stone back to the Jewish cemetery, where it was re?erected this past Spring.

This month Goldfarb reports that he has received word that another ten gravestones from the Staszow cemetery have been found in the same courtyard.  Plans are now being made to recover these stones and transport them back to the cemetery site.

5. Government Report of US Holocaust Museum Causes Stir

A recent report mandated by the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies about the management of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has caused a stir in the U.S. Jewish community.  One recommendation - that more non-Jews, including African-Americans and Latinos, be appointed to the U.S. 65-member Holocaust Memorial Council, has been widely report in the in press.  But a more important recommendation of the report and one likely to be applauded by many in the museum world, is that day-to-day governance of the museum be handled by the director and staff with less involvement and interference from the Council, whose membership is appointed by the president.

The report, prepared by a panel of the National Academy Of Public Administration reviewed the museum's overall governance and management in order to help the museum, a federal institution up for reauthorization, to re-evaluate its progress and look to the future.  According to Joel Bloom, director emeritus of the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia and a member of the panel (as reported in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent), the Council has been "acting like the museum's board of directors, and that's a problem."

The report is intended to help the museum's new director, Sara Bloomfield, set policy and provide a vision for the institution for the next five years.  The museum remains one of Washington's most popular, with over 12 million visitors since it opened its doors in 1993.  Because of its Washing ton location and its official status, the museum has remained under close public scrutiny.  Its several (often minor) controversies over the years have received more attention than the administration of a dozen other national museums in the city combined.


 
International Survey of Jewish Monuments
c/o Jewish Heritage Research Center
Box 210, 118 Julian Pl.
Syracuse, New York 13210-3419, USA

tel: (315) 474-2350
fax: (315) 474-2347

 
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Last updated: January 4, 2003