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GREECE - Friday, April 16, 2010 - Thursday, April 29, 2010

Etz Hayyim Synagogue

By Maggie R. Copeland via Nikos Stavroulakis
ISJM

ISJM has collected over $25,000 for the restoration of Etz Hayyim Synagogue in Hania, Crete.  However, the small congregation still struggles to pay the bills. The synagogue has been adopted as a sister synagogue by one of the two synagogues in Athens last week and has taken measures to increase security.  This was done by refurbishing what was the old house of the shamash (prior to 1944), paying for the rent of the house, and then setting up a young Albanian and his family to be caretakers of the Synagogue. Iron fencing has also been set up around the vulnerable spots. The main concern for security is the need for surveillance cameras and the construction of a proper sentry box.

Donations are still greatly needed to aid the restoration of the synagogue.  Please see the ISJM projects (Etz Hayyim Synagogue) link or the websites below for information regarding the synagogue and to contribute to the restoration.

http://samgrubersjewishartmonuments.blogspot.com/2010/01/greece-arson-again-in-hania-causes.html

http://www.etz-hayyim-hania.org/

 
POLAND - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Plaque Installed at Site of Destroyed Synagogue in Barcin
ISJM
On December 18, 2008, a memorial plaque commemorating the site of the destroyed synagogue was unveiled on a building located at 4 Stycznia St. in Barcin (kujawsko-pomorskie province). The ceremony was organized by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland. The simple text on the plaque reads "Synagoga w latach 1837 -1939," and in Hebrew "Beth Kenesset."

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UNITED STATES - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Obama's Chicago Jewish Neighborhood
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
On election day I wrote about presidents and synagogues, but at the time I didn't realize that then candidate and now president-elect lives in a former Jewish Day School, and lives immediately across the street from one of my favorite synagogues, Temple Isaiah - K.A.M. in Chicago, the quintessential Byzantine Revival synagogue designed by Chicago Jewish architect Alfred Alschuler in 1924. I featured this synagogue in my 2003 book (American Synagogues: A Century of Architecture and Jewish Community), but I never realized when I stood facing and photographing the facade that I had my back to the Obama home. I'm thinking that since the synagogue has a chimney disguised as a minaret, maybe that's where the story of Barack being a Muslim started. But its not the Muslim call to prayer one hears on Greenwood Ave., and certainly now not "Barack Who?," but rather the Baruch hu.

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EUROPE - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cemeteries: Lo Tishkach Works to List All European Jewish Cemeteries & Laws That Affect Them
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The Lo Tishkach (Hebrew: 'do not forget') Foundation European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative was founded in 2006 as a joint project of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. The Foundation's goal is to guarantee the effective and lasting preservation and protection of Jewish cemeteries and mass graves throughout the European continent.

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POLAND - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Jewish cemetery in Jozefow (lubelskie province) cleaned
ISJM
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage announced on December 19th that it had finished clearing the Jewish cemetery in Jozefow (lubelskie province) and overgrowth of shrubs and grass. During the cleaning of the site previously unknown matzevot were uncovered. The project was co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage within the framework of the 'Cultural Heritage' operational program, priority 6 'Protection of Historical Cemeteries'.

Click here to see the pictures from Jozefow after the cleanup

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POLAND - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Krakow's Henryk Halkowski Dies of Heart Attack at 58
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Henryk Halkowski, the heart and soul of Jewish Krakow, died suddenly of a heart attack in Krakow the night January 1-2. Henryk was full of history, opinions and stories. Among his projects at the time of his death is a volume of translation and commentary of Rabbi Nachman's Stories.

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POLAND - Sunday, January 4, 2009

More on Presidents and Synagogues, this Time in Poland
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The JTA reported on Dec 21, 2009 that Polish president Lech Kaczynski visiting the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw in December. "The president, the first sitting Polish president to visit a synagogue in more than 60 years, lit the first candle for Chanukah in a silver menorah. During the service, the congregation recited a prayer for the 90th anniversary of Poland's independence. The prayer was written by the rabbi of Krakow, Boaz Pash, according to Polish Radio. He was joined in its recitation by the chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich."

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SPAIN - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Temporary Halt of Construction at Toledo Cemetery Site
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The rhetoric and protests over the excavation of the medieval Jewish cemetery in Toledo, Spain have heated up since I last wrote about this in early November. There have been some recent developments that give hope for a solution. Specifically, the Spanish government has ordered a stop on all work at the site until at least January 15, 2009. A complete halt to work was a condition of Jewish religious groups to their joining in negotiation. The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) in a press release (below) praise the government's action as "positive decision." The halt follows weeks of public demonstrations outside of Spanish embassies, protests form abroad to the Spanish government and intensive discussions by representatives of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, the CER, and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (CPJCE).

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SPAIN - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Barcelona  Museum Hosts Seminar on Jewish Cemeteries
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The Museum of History of Barcelona will host the two-day conference "Archaeological Intervention on Historical Necropolises: Jewish Cemeteries" on January 15th and 16th, 2009. This is a timely topic, given the current controversy about the medieval Jewish cemetery at Toledo.
The mission of the museum "is the reassessment of the historic heritage of Barcelona, whether the items are movable or immovable. In other words, the museum is responsible for the conservation, research, and dissemination of the objects and buildings that are significant for our collective history and that exemplify the city's past... the best city museum is the city itself, and that it is in its streets, squares, and buildings where we can interpret the passage of time and the interaction of the men and women that have made, throughout the centuries, today's Barcelona possible"

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UNITED STATES - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Temple Beth Tefilloh in Brunswick, Georgia to Seek National Register Status
ISJM
Recognizing the historic value of their 1890 synagogue, members of Temple Beth Tefiloh in Brunswick, Georgia are beginning the process to have the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by Jewish architect Alfred Eichberg, who designed the Old City Hall of Brunswick at the same he designed the synagogue, the building retains its original interior woodwork, stained glass and its exterior architectural details, which include the recurring motif of "Moorish" horseshoe arches.

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UNITED STATES - Sunday, January 4, 2009

Judah L. Magnes Museum Moving to Downtown Berkeley
ISJM
The Judah L. Magnes Museum, home of one of America's most acclaimed collections of Judaica is moving to downtown Berkeley (California) where it hopes to attract more attention, visitors and to redefine its position in the high-stakes and increasingly competitive world of Jewish museums and cultural centers. The Museum's plans to adaptively reuse the former Armstrong University Building at 2222 Harold Way, a designated local landmark designed by Walter Ratcliff, Jr., were approved by the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission in July, 2008. The new design is by San Francisco architects Mark Cavagnero Associates. Extensive plans and elevations of the new facility can be viewed online.

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JAMAICA - Monday, December 1, 2008

Volunteers Wanted for More Cemetery Survey
ISJM
Following up on last year's work surveying and documenting the 18th century Jewish cemetery at Hunt's Bay, Jamaica, (supported by ISJM) the Caribbean Volunteer Expeditions is calling for more volunteers to continue the Jewish cemetery inventory again this year in the Kingston area, surveying two smaller historic cemeteries, and well as checking inventory work, done last year at Hunt's Bay. Jews fleeing persecution in Europe settled in Jamaica as early as 1530 where they played important roles in commerce and the sugar industry.

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GREECE - Monday, December 1, 2008

New Work at Etz Hayyim Synagogue, Hania (Crete)
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Dr. Nikos Stavroulakis writes that the Ezrath Nashim (women's section) of the Etz Hayyim Synagogue of Hania, Crete, has been recreated, completing a two-decade process in which the ruined synagogue has been reclaimed, restored and revived.
The latest (and final?) work is "restoration" in the broadest sense. It is known where the women's section was, but there are no visual or written descriptions of its former appearance, and there was only fragmentary physical evidence remaining in the synagogue.

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POLAND - Monday, December 1, 2008

Zuromin Cemetery to be Enclosed
ISJM
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland signed an agreement with the Zuromin Cemetery Restoration Project (USA) for the renovation of the cemetery in Zuromin (mazowieckie province). The project includes building of a fence around the cemetery and cleaning works on its grounds. Works will begin in April 2009. See a digital representation of the new fence.

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POLAND - Monday, December 1, 2008

Impressions of Krakow's Kupa Synagogue
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Not long ago I posted on my blog an historic photo of the Ark wall of the synagogue of Zhovkva
(Ukraine) which showed an elaborate painting (c 1920) of Jerusalem. The image is interesting for many reasons, but I just want to point out the juxtaposition of the descriptive landscape (possibly derived from a postcard or Bonfils photo) and the symbolic elements of the ancient Temple, also represented near the Ark. The contrast demonstrates the long history of invoking the ancient Temple and Jerusalem in the synagogue, but also a shift in emphasis that began in the late 19th century and accelerated in the 20th, along with the spread of tourism and Zionism. When you start looking you'll see all sorts of references to the temple, Jerusalem and Eretz Israel in synagogues. Some of symbolic, some are architectural, some are textual and some are representational. But after 1900, representational views become more common.

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POLAND - Monday, December 1, 2008

More on Former Warsaw Ghetto Boundary Markers
ISJM
The last E-Report included an account of the new series of monuments marking the perimeter of the former Warsaw Ghetto. The monuments were officially inaugurated in a ceremony held at the Jewish Historical Institute on November 19th..
Vanessa Gera of Associated Press filed the following report:
Warsaw marks borders of former ghetto
By VANESSA GERA
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish officials marked the border of the former Warsaw Ghetto on Wednesday with plaques and boundary lines traced in the ground to preserve the memory of the tragic World War II-era Jewish quarter.

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CZECH REPUBLIC - Monday, December 1, 2008

Jewish Memorial in Liberec
ISJM
The Prague Daily Monitor has reported that a memorial to Holocaust victims was installed in the Czech town of Liberec, 90 kms NNE of Prague, on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. The Renaissance-Revival style synagogue of Liberec, built in 1889 was set afire by the Nazis in 1938 and then demolished. Before the Holocaust 1600 Jews lived in Liberec. Only 37 survived.
The new memorial is located in the former ceremony hall of the Jewish cemetery, built in 1900 and used as a storage space until this restoration (which cost 7 million Czech crowns, about 250,000 euro).

 read more ...
GERMANY - Monday, December 1, 2008

Two Jewish Cemeteries in Eastern Germany Desecrated
ISJM

According to the Associated Press (Nov. 17) two Jewish cemeteries in Gotha and Erfurt, both cities in the Eastern German State of Thuringia, were desecrated. Police reported a pig's head and an anti-Semitic banner left at the gate of a cemetery in Gotha, and that several glasses containing a red blood-like liquid were thrown over the cemetery gate. A memorial plaque at the Erfurt cemetery was also covered in a red liquid.

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GERMANY - Monday, December 1, 2008

Munich Liberal Congregation Says Libeskind Will Design New Synagogue 
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The German news service Deutsche Welle has written that Munich's Liberal congregation, Beth Shalom, has engaged Berlin-Museum designer Daniel Libeskind to design a new synagogue. The Liberal congregation, affiliated with the World Union for Progressive Judaism, is not included within the formal structure of Munich's government-recognized Jewish Religious Community (Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde München und Oberbayern). Prior to the Second World War and the Holocaust, Munich has a large Liberal community housed in the large 1887 Romanesque/Gothic-style synagogue in the Herzog-Max-Strasse, demolished beginning on June 9, 1938, several months before Kristallnacht, when the city's Orthodox synagogue, Ohel Jakob, was also destroyed.

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UKRAINE - Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jewish Heritage Signage: Lviv and Krakow, a Tale of Two Cities
By Samuel D. Gruber

ISJM

In my presentation last week in Lviv,Ukraine, at the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, I addressed the practical and theoretical questions of "Can Lviv Be Developed as a Jewish Heritage Center?" While part of the presentation and paper dealt with historical, political, and economic questions, a good deal of what I said was about simple practical solutions. I have been traveling to Lviv for almost a decade and in that time I have seen no significant positive change in the identification and reclamation of Jewish space, with the exception of the marking of the Kleparov Train station, from where Jews were deported.

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UNITED STATES - Thursday, November 13, 2008

Georgia's 19th-Century Jewish Architects, Alfred Eichberg and Hyman Witcover
by Samuel D. Gruber

ISJM
In response to my blog entry on Savannah, Georgia (USA) Jewish-American architect Hyman Witcover, Atlanta-based architectural historian Richard Funderburke has responded with information about Witcover's mentor and colleague Alfred Eichberg (born: NYC, 1859) a professional architect in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, from 1880 until about 1900, with whom Witcover first found employment as a draftsman, and who around 1899 Eichberg made his partner. Funderburke writes that "Eichberg was extremely successful during the twenty years from 1880 to 1900 and seems likely to have been the first professional Jewish architect to live and practice in Georgia and the Deep South [he designed buildings in N.C., Florida and S.C. as well]."

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POLAND - Thursday, November 13, 2008

Extensive Marker Program Recalls Warsaw Ghetto Wall
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM

When I was recently in Warsaw I took most of a day to walk around the area of the Warsaw Ghetto which had, of course, also been among the most densely populated Jewish neighborhoods of the city before the Shoah. I made my way to many of the monuments which I already knew, and I wanted to get a sense of where the new Museum of the History of the Jews in Poland would rise - across from the Ghetto Uprising Monument by Natan Rapoport.
This part of Warsaw is a baffling one, since there are entire layers of history - streets, buildings, houses, stores, people - all lost beneath the post-war and post -Ghetto building boom that transformed this area into vast acres of wide streets and big apartment blocks. The Ghetto monuments are among the few distinctive landmarks.

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POLAND - Thursday, November 13, 2008

Krakow's Wysoka (High) Synagogue Open to Public
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM

Krakow's Wysoka (High) Synagogue at 38 Jozefa Street in Kazimierz, one of Europe's oldest surviving synagogue buildings, reopened to the public this past summer. The High Synagogue (so-called, because its worship space is located on the first main floor above ground level) was built in the second half of the 16th century, possibly as early as 1556-63, and certainly by 1597).

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SPAIN - Thursday, November 13, 2008

Excavation for Construction on Site of Medieval Jewish Cemetery in Toledo
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Dominque Tomasov Blinder and David Stoleru of the Center of Studies ZAKHOR in Barcelona report that excavation for new construction is taking place on the site recognized as the medieval Jewish cemetery of Toledo, Spain. There is already a school on the site, built in the 80's that destroyed a great part of the cemetery. The new excavation is for expansion of the school.  ISJM has obtained photos of the excavation the reveal the complete exposure of skeletons.

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UKRAINE - Thursday, November 13, 2008

Progress (Slow but Steady) for Zhovkva Synagogue Restoration
By Samuel D. Gruber

ISJM
On my recent visit to Ukraine I had the opportunity to stop briefly en route to Lviv to visit the great synagogue of Zhovkva, a site that I have returned to several times since I first urged the restoration of the building*. Work has been continuing on the historic "fortress" synagogue by the Zhovkva State Historical-Architectural Reserve and the Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments of Zhovkva, under the direction of Mr. Mychaijo Kubai. The empty and severely damaged building was listed by the World Monuments Fund on its list of 100 most endangered sites for 2000, leading to a start-up grant from WMF, and subsequent contributions for consolidation and restoration work from the Ukrainian State agencies. In 2006 (?), a partnership was established with four engineering offices in Bavaria (Germany) which are underwriting all planning costs for the project through the "Bavaria Technology Consult of the Bavarian Chamber of Civil Engineers." Since 2007, development in the town comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Regional Development, and this has brought in new money and purpose to the synagogue and other projects.

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UNITED STATES - Thursday, November 13, 2008

Presidents and Synagogues
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM

In the spirit of the American presidential election day we point out a long association of presidents and synagogues.
As early as 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant attended the dedication of Washington, DC's first permanent house of worship: Adas Israel. That building, moved to 3rd and G Streets, N.W., and restored is now a Jewish museum run by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. It is reported that President Grant was seated on a small sofa near the front of the sanctuary during the dedication on June 9, 1876, and that he stayed for the entire service (unlike many congregant who left early). Grant, who despite anti-Jewish policies as a Civil War general, was popular with Jews as president. He entertained Jews at the White House and appointed Jews to Federal jobs. He also made a donation of $10 to the synagogue.

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POLAND - Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sukkah from Szydłowiec Discovered and Restored
ISJM
Just in time for this year's celebration of the Sukkot holiday, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews – still in the planning and construction phase – announced in its Newsletter that a sukkah dating from around 1920 discovered last year in the town of Szydłowiec on the porch of the house at 3 Garbarska Street has been dismantled, removed and is in restoration by conservators from the Radom Regional Museum.
The Sukkah was disassembled into its 240 original wooden parts for conservation and restoration. Monika and Norbert Bekiel, who own the house to which the sukkah was attached (remodeled into a porch) donated the structure to the Museum. Until the Museum of the History of Polish Jews is constructed, the sukkah will be kept at the Radom Area Countryside Museum.

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UNITED STATES - Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hoboken (New Jersey) Star of Israel Synagogue Begins Restoration
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM

The United Synagogue of Hoboken used the High Holy Days to begin the restoration of its synagogue, built in 1915, and known as the Star of Israel. A program of renewal for the congregation began during its centennial in 2005 and since then, the synagogue has been placed on the New Jersey and the National Registers of Historic Places and the synagogue recently received a $280,000 matching grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust to aid in the restoration.

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UNITED STATES - Thursday, October 23, 2008

More on Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Rabbi Magnin and Hugo Ballin
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM

I'm happy that my blog entries and ISJM E-Report are beginning to draw responses - mostly positive and often informative. As readership expands, I hope that this will continue.
Historian George M. Goodwin (of the Rhode Island Jewish Historical Society and author of many significant articles on synagogues and other topics) contacted me about my piece on the upcoming restoration of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles and its murals by Hugo Ballin. I have posted
more photos of the synagogue; some by Paul Rocheleau, who has given permission for their use.

 read more ...
RUSSIA - Thursday, October 23, 2008

Holocaust Memorial Vandalized In Kaliningrad
ISJM

The Regnum News Agency reported on October 10th that an unknown person painted anti-Semitic death threats and a swastika on a memorial commemorating victims of the Holocaust in Kaliningrad, Russia. The monument is in a restored old Jewish cemetery that has been previously vandalized twice in recent years.

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BELARUS - Thursday, October 23, 2008

Plans for Commemoration of Annihilation of Minsk Ghetto on 65th Anniversary
ISJM
Following is a press release from the Embassy (which?) of Belarus that mentions the inauguration of new Holocaust commemorative plaques and stones as well as host of other activities. ISJM welcomes information, comments, reports and photos from readers about this and other news from Belarus.
Press-Release:  On October 20 – 23, 2008 the main events dedicated to the 65th Anniversary of Minsk Ghetto annihilation will be held on the state level in the capital of Belarus – Minsk – with the participation of citizens of Israel - survivors of ghetto and veterans.

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CZECH REPUBLIC - Thursday, October 23, 2008

Simhat Torah Celebration at Restored Synagogue
ISJM
Ruth Ellen Gruber reports that Simhat Torah was celebrated on October 22nd in the recently restored neo-Romanesque synagogue of Hermanuv Mestec (Czech Republic), designed by architect Frantisek Schmoranz and built in 1870.

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UKRAINE - Thursday, October 23, 2008

Attack on Kirovograd Synagogue Thwarted
ISJM
The Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union reports (in BIGOTRY MONITOR, Volume 8, Number 41, October 17, 2008) that an attack on the historic Great Choral Synagogue of Kirovograd in Ukraine was foiled by the local SBU, a successor to the KGB. A group of far-right extremists allegedly planned to blow up the century-old synagogue, according to an October 7 report by Interfax. The SBU uncovered the group early this year but only just announced the fact.

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UNITED STATES - Monday, October 13, 2008

Savannah (Georgia) Historic B'nai Brith Synagogue Designed by Jewish Architect Hyman Witcover Recognized for Adaptive Reuse
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The Historic Savannah Foundation (HSF)
will present its 2007 preservation award on October 30th to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for its restoration and adaptive reuse of the former Congregation B'nai Brith Jacob synagogue. The 2008 HSF Annual Meeting and Preservation Awards to be held at the restored building, which has been adapted for use as the SCAD Student Center. I visited the building when it was still under construction, and have not seen the project finished, but here is some history about the structure, the congregation and the architect:
The former synagogue at 120 Montgomery Street, was built in 1909 and served the Orthodox Congregation until it moved to its new building in 1962. It was later home to Saint Andrew's Independent Episcopal Church, from 1970 to 2002. SCAD acquired the building in 2003 and began work on a new student center designed by Jairo Delgado Associates and constructed by the Carson Construction Company. The Center was opened in 2006 after a process of renovation and restoration.

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UNITED STATES - Sunday, October 12, 2008

Zodiac (Mazalos): Oct 19 Program on Kabbalistic Astrology in New York Synagogues
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM

On Sunday, October 19th (Chol Hamoed Succot) at 11:30 am, The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy and The New York Landmarks Conservancy will present Mazalos: Kabbalistic Astrology in New York Synagogues. The event will take place at the Orenstein Center, (15-17 Willet Street, New York), and explore Mazalos, a Jewish art form featuring zodiac symbols. A panel of experts including scholar Miriam Aranoff, conservator Beth Edelstein and urban historian Elyssa Sampson will discuss the history and preservation of Mazalos, followed by an optional tour of the zodiac paintings on the Lower East Side. While few examples of Mazalos remain, two prime examples can be found on the sites of the Bialystoker Synagogue and Congregation B'nei Jacob & Anshei Brzezan, (a.k.a. The Stanton Street Shul).

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POLAND - Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jewish Culture Programs in Former Leczna Synagogue (now Museum)
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM

On October 22, the 1937 Yiddish language film version of An-Sky's play "The Dybbuk" will be shown in former synagogue of Leczna, now the seat of the Regional Museum in Leczna (Lubelskie province). The synagogue is one of the best preserved synagogues of the "bimah-support" type. Built/ in 1648, it was damaged by fire in 1846, and again by the Germans during the Second World War, when it was used for storage. Perhaps because of its massive walls, the building survived as a ruin until it was rebuilt from1953-1964 as the Museum of the Lublin Coal Region. It now houses a Regional Judaica Museum, housing a collection of liturgical objects, clothing and everyday items.

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UNITED KINGDOM - Sunday, October 12, 2008

Board of Deputies Checking Disused Jewish Cemeteries in Britain
ISJM

Ruth Ellen Gruber provides a link an article by Leon Symons in the Jewish Chronicle (UK). Ruth writes: "abandoned, disused and neglected Jewish cemeteries are not just a problem in post-communist countries and elsewhere in Europe where most Jews were murdered in the Shoah. But concern over what to do, how to do it, who should do it, and how whatever is done should be financed is a serious issue in other countries, too."
The British Board of Deputies is acting rather late in the day to address this problem.  Reports of neglected and abandoned cemeteries in the UK have been a regular news feature in the Jewish Chronicle and elsewhere for years.  There are several good precedents for the management of abandoned cemeteries. The state of Massachusetts (USA) has one of the best programs.

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NORWAY - Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jewish Museum Opens in Oslo
ISJM
On September 9, 2008, a new
Jewish Museum in Oslo, Norway, officially opened in a the historic former Calmeyer's Gate synagogue, which was mostly destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. Its remains have been used as a frame for the new building in an area where many of the first Jewish immigrants to Oslo settled in the late 19th century. Sidsel Levin is the director of the new museum.
The Jewish Museum in Oslo (JMO) was established in March 2004 in collaboration with the OsloCity Museum, but its origin is in an exhibition organized in 1992 at the Oslo City Museum, celebrating the centenary of Det Mosaiske Trossamfund (The Mosaic Community of Norway).

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CZECH REPUBLIC - Sunday, October 12, 2008

Stolpersteine Project Memorializes Shoah Victims in Prague
ISJM
The Stolpersteine project ("Stones of the Vanished" or "Stumbling Stones") which began in Germany, and has now spread to the Czech Republic where it is being organized by the Czech Union of Jewish Students.  The first stones will be set in the Old Town, in the Jewish Quarter, but more stones will be put in Vinohrady where the majority of Prague's Jews lived before the Shoah.
The Stolpersteine project, originated in 1994 in Cologne by artist Gunter Demnig, embeds small stones resembling cobbles in the pavements near houses where Jews lived before their deportation out of Germany, or to their deaths.

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UNITED STATES - Monday, September 29, 2008

Wilshire Boulevard Temple Launches Ambitious Restoration and Building Program
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The Wilshire Boulevard Temple (the third home of Congregation B'nai B'rith of Los Angeles), is about to undergo a massive multi-million dollar restoration. The project, which will probably cost more the $30 million is part of an ambitious program of the congregation to renew its historic sanctuary and campus, and to build a new facility that will flourish in the 21st century. In doing this, Wilshire is following a new trend in American synagogues – one that we might call back-to-roots, or at least back-to-the-city. After decades of expanding further and further into the suburbs and exurbs, American Reform and Conservative Jews are coming back in large numbers to urban areas. A t the very least, widely dispersed Jewish communities are finding that the historic locations of many synagogues in downtowns and early suburbs, are conveniently located at points central to the largest numbers of their congregants. Wilshire Boulevard already has expanded into in the exurbs, with two active campuses. The new project, for which the congregation is raising $100 million, will re-establish the site of the 1920s sanctuary as the heart and soul of the congregation.

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LITHUANIA - Monday, September 29, 2008

Pakruojis Wooden Synagogue Continues to Deteriorate. How Much Time is Left?
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
The former synagogue of Pakruojis, Lithuania, was perhaps the most impressive of that country's surviving wooden synagogues. What remains of the early 19th century building continues to suffer from neglect and vandalism. Dora Boom of the Netherlands recently informed ISJM that wooden planking from one side of the synagogue was being removed (see photos) – presumably to be reused or burned as firewood. Photos by Ruth Ellen Gruber show the damage in 2006.

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GERMANY - Monday, September 29, 2008

5 Millionth Visitor to Berlin Jewish Museum
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Ruth Ellen Gruber writes on her blog that the Jewish Museum in Berlin has received its 5 millionth visitor since the museum opened in September 2001. Ruth writes "even before its formal opening, the empty building was a tourist draw because of its distinctive design by Daniel Libeskind."
According to the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel The museum is the fifth most popular museum in Berlin, with 733,000 visitors in 2007 -- including 140,000 under the age of 18. (The PergamonMuseum holds the top spot with 1.3 million visitors). About two-thirds of visitors to the Jewish Museum come from outside of Germany.

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JAMAICA - Monday, September 29, 2008

The United Congregation of Israelites (Synagogue "Shaare Shalom") Jewish Heritage Center in Kingston Expands Digitalization program
ISJM
Ainsley Henriques reports to ISJM that the
Jewish Heritage Center at the United Congregation of Israelites has begun digitizing its collection of historic photographs from the Ernest de Souza Collection. The Center's reference library is also being catalogued. The next task in the Center's program is be to catalog the Kritzler collection of historic materials, papers, pamphlets, magazines and books. The Center looks forward to a significant increase in school tours to the museum, which has been rated by a visiting Educational expert in religious education to the Ministry of Education as "one of the best that she has ever seen"
ISJM has partnered with the Center on the documentation of the 18th century Jewish cemetery at Hunt's Bay, outside of Kingston.

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UNITED STATES - Monday, September 29, 2008

Judaica Auction: Greenstein & Co. Offers "Lost Art" Auction in New York November 10, 2008
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
On Monday, November 10th, J. Greenstein & Co.'s auction house will host an extensive auction devoted to Judaica at New York's Radisson Martinique Hotel at 5:30pm. The auction features more than 100 ceremonial objects, mostly from Europe, including menorahs, Kiddush cups, silver torah ornaments, spice boxes, paintings and much more. For those unable to attend the auction, pre-sale bidding and phone bidding will be offered. All items are illustrated in small photos in the on-line catalog.

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CZECH REPUBLIC - Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Restitution: Jewish Museum of Prague to Return Art Collection
International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press has reported that the Jewish Museum of Prague is ready to return an art collection of 32 paintings that belonged to Emil Freund, a Jewish lawyer from Prague who died in the Lodz Ghetto in 1942 to Freund's relatives. The contested collection includes works by Signac, Derain and Utrillo. How the collection will be returned and when and where items can be sold remains unclear. Czech law requires that at least some of the most notable works remain in the Czech Republic. The claimants would like the right to sell works abroad.

 read more ...
ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Czech Scrolls Museum To Open in London, September 17th, 2008
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
The Memorial Scrolls Trust has entirely redesigned and reinstalled is facilities at Kent House in London to create a new Czech Scroll Museum, to open to the public with a reception on the evening of September 17th. The previous exhibition has been in place since 1988. I have written about the story of the scrolls before but it is a story that merits retelling.

 read more ...
EUROPE - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

World Monuments Fund Announces Jewish Heritage Grants
ISJM
The New York-based World Monuments Fund has announced four grants totaling $235,000 to European Jewish preservation projects as part of its Jewish Heritage Grant Program.  Funds will be allocated to on-going projects at three historic synagogues and for conservation planning for the former Volozhin Yeshiva Building in Belarus.

 read more ...
POLAND - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brzeziny Jewish Cemetery Monument Defaced (Again)
ISJM
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage reported on September 8, 2008 that the Holocaust monument at the Jewish cemetery in Brzeziny (Lodzkie province) has been vandalized (again). Anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on the memorial tablet.

According to the report from the Foundation:

"The Jewish cemetery in Brzeziny, located at current Reymonta St., was established probably in 16th century and was in use until the Nazi devastation during the Holocaust. During communist regime in Poland a sand mine was built on the cemetery grounds. Witnesses report that sand mixed with human bones was used to make prefabricates destined to be used in constructing large condominiums. Many tombstones were stolen and used for construction works, among others, to reinforce the fishing ponds. In 1992, on the initiative of the descendants of the Jews from Brzeziny, the cemetery grounds were fenced."

 read more ...
RUSSIA - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Plans for Jewish Museum Announced
ISJM
A Committee for the Russian-Jewish Museum of Tolerance in Moscow approved a final architectural plan for what they are calling the world's largest Jewish museum. According to Ha'aretz, "the world's largest Jewish museum" is to be built in Moscow. Construction is to begin in 2009 and be completed by 2011...  "The German architectural firm Graft Labs will be in charge of renovation and expansion [of a former bus terminal designed by Russian modernist Konstantin Melnikov in 1927], and international design company Ralph Appelbaum Associates will head design. The building, which spans 9,000 square meters, will be enlarged by adding underground floors covering 15,000 square meters, making it the largest Jewish museum in the world."
ISJM doesn't have addition information on this project.  We are sure there will be much discussion of it at the November meeting of the Association of European Jewish Museums.  If our readers have further information, please write.

 read more ...
POLAND - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Conference of Poles Who Preserve Jewish Heritage, September 15-16, 2008
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The first national conference of (non-Jewish) Poles who care for Jewish heritage sites in Poland is scheduled for Sept. 15-16 in the town of Zdunska Wola, near Lodz in central Poland. The government-supported conference is the brain-child of local activist Kamila Klauzinska, graduate student in Jewish studies at Krakow's Jagiellonian University, one of many non-Jewish Poles who volunteer to protect and preserve Jewish heritage in Poland. To read more and to see the schedule go to
Ruth Ellen Gruber's Jewish-Heritage-Travel blog. Ruth has been covering many of these efforts as a journalist and travel writer for more than 20 years.

 read more ...
ROMANIA - Sunday, September 7, 2008

Discussions Begin to Save Synagogue in Gherla
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The almost century-old synagogue in Gherla (built 1911?), Romania is empty and at great risk. Discussions have begun, however, between descendants of Jews from Gherla, local authorities, and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania (FedRom) to preserve the synagogue, possibly as a town library. As there is only one Jew left in Gherla, some new use needs to found for the building if it is to escape eventual collapse or demolition. The nearest active Jewish community is in Dej.According to Washington, DC, resident Mike Klein, there is a loosely organized group of about 40 families that originated from Gherla who now live in Israel, USA, Canada, and Australia and are coordinating an effort to save the building.

 read more ...
BOSNIA - Sunday, September 7, 2008

Former Synagogue in Travnik (1860) Demolished
ISJM
Ruth Ellen Gruber has reported on her blog the destruction of the building that formerly housed the synagogue of Travni, Bosnia.  Reports are that a shopping center will be built on the site. 

Ivan Ceresnjes of the Center for Jewish Art in Jerusalem provided the following background report about the history and fate of the synagogue building and other aspects of the material culture of the Jewish community of Travnik:
"A Jewish community has existed in Travnik, Muslim Croat Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina since 1768, and the first synagogue was built in 1769.  During the period of the Ottoman Empire, Travnik was the seat of the Pasha, making Travnik the most important city in the Ottoman province of Bosnia and its Jewish community the second in importance, after Sarajevo...

 read more ...
GEORGIA - Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Abandoned synagogue gives shelter in Ossetian war
By Yuras Karmanau
Associated Press
Tskhinvali, Georgia - When Georgian rockets began falling on this sleepy capital of the breakaway province of South Ossetia, Zemfira Tibilova and her neighbors ran to a century-old brick synagogue. During four days of fighting in the town, she said, four dozen Orthodox Christians hid in the building's dark basement with little food and water.
"These holy walls protected us," said Tibilova, 60. "God is still present here."
When the Georgian army launched an offensive late on Aug. 7 seeking to regain control of the region, about 50 people on Tskhinvali's Shaumian Street — mostly women and children and several elderly men — grabbed all the bread and water they could carry and took refuge in the synagogue.

 read more ...
GREECE - Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Correction and Update on Thessaloniki Cemetery and Subways Construction
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Last month I wrote about concerns in Thessaloniki, Greece, about subway excavations under the Jewish Cemetery, now occupied in large part by the Aristotle University.
Prof Steven Bowman sent in the following correction to my history of the site:
"The Jewish community [of Thessaloníki] 'sold' the graveyard to the city as a result of negotiations to bring back the men in forced labor. The negotiations were in Fall 1942. There are today less than 1000 Jews in Thessaloníki."
At the invitation of ISJM, The U.S. State Department's Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues has provided the following details about the situation in Thessaloníki. I thank Ambassador J. Christian Kennedy for this information:

 read more ...
FRANCE - Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chagall Window in French Cathedral Broken by Vandals
ISJM
Part of a
stained glass window designed by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) in the cathedral of Metz, was damaged by vandals on August 13, 2008.
The French Ministry of Culture announced that a 24 by 16 inch (60-by-40-centimeter) hole was smashed into the lower left corner of one of Chagall's 1963 windows, which depicts Adam and Eve. The damage was apparently part of a robbery in which some items were stolen from the church. Shards of glass from the broken window were collected and authorities believe it can be repaired.
In all, there are 19 Chagall stained glass windows in the cathedral, created and installed between 1958 and 1968.
A law passed earlier this summer in France makes the intentional damage to a historic building or cultural treasure a crime subject to as much as seven years in prison and a €100,000 ($150,000) fine.

 read more ...
SPAIN - Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lessons from Medieval Jewish Cemetery Discoveries at Tarrega & Barcelona
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
It has been just over a year since bones from a medieval Jewish Catalonian cemetery were moved from the small town of Tarrega (120 km west of Barcelona) for reburial in the Jewish cemetery in Barcelona.  The remains came from a previously unknown cemetery discovered during construction work for a new residential complex.  Archaeologists began excavating the remains and discovered convincing evidence that the site was a Jewish cemetery.  The excavation sparked a dispute between archaeologists and Jewish leaders over the exhumation of the bones for archaeological analysis. The irony, of course, is that without archaeological excavation and examination, the site would never have been identified as Jewish.

 read more ...
ROMANIA - Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Synagogues in Southern Transylvania (Romania) & Updates on Romanian Jewish Heritage Preservation Projects
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM

On the weekend of Aug. 22-23, the "Proetnica" interethnic festival in Sighisoara, Romania featured an exhibit of photographs of synagogues in southern Transylvania, taken by Christian Binder and organized by Julie Dawson. The exhibit was held in the synagogue in Sighisoara, at Str. Tache Ionescu 13.   Ms. Dawson and Mr. Binder have posted many of these fine evocative photographs at: http://www.pbase.com/binderch/synagogues.  The two hope this documentation project will continue.  ISJM is looking to organize advisers and sponsors for the project.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, August 8, 2008

Quick Visit to Former Mishkan Israel in New Haven, Connecticut: Once Grand Reform Synagogue by Brunner & Tryon (1895-1897) Now an Arts School
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Last week on a drive up I-95 from New Jersey to Rhode Island I did a quick detour in New Haven to visit the former Temple Mishkan Israel Synagogue, once New Haven's grandest Jewish building, now serving as an arts magnet school. Located just 2 blocks east of Yale University, Mishkan Israel opened in 1897, and served the until 1960 when the venerable congregation moved to a new suburban building in Hamden (designed by important modernist and German refugee Fritz Nathan). The big building is worth a visit. It is one of a small number of late 19th-century grand American Reform synagogues that survive in urban America.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, August 8, 2008

Wrecking Ball Closer for NYC's Congregation Meseritz Synagogue
Documented by ISJM

Click here for ISJM photos of Congregation Meseritz
The on-again and off-again plans to demolish the tiny and lovely Congregation Meseritz Synagogue (Adas Yisroel Ansche Meseritz) at 415 East 6th Street on New York's Lower East Side seem to be moving ahead again. An article in The Villager this week details the small congregation's plan to demolish the 1908 building in order to develop the narrow site for a 6-story residential building. It seems for the developer and some members of the congregation, one hundred years of this charming little building are quite enough.

 read more ...
UKRAINE - Friday, August 8, 2008

Lest We Forget Lviv's Krakovsky Jewish Cemetery – Now a Bustling Marketplace
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Visitors to L'viv (formerly Lvov, Lemberg) for the Urban Jewish Heritage and History in East Central Europe, Lviv (Ukraine), October 29-31, 2008, will have a hard time finding the old Jewish Cemetery of that legendary city of Jewish life and culture. That's because the famous Krakovsky Cemetery (probably founded no later than the 15th century) has been hidden under an expanding marketplace (known as the Krakivsky Market) since early 1990s (I took these photos in 2006).

 read more ...
HOLLAND - Friday, August 8, 2008

Liberal Congregation of Gelderland to Occupy Synagogue Empty of Jews Since 1943
ISJM
In the Dutch province of Gelderland a Liberal Jewish community is restoring an old synagogue as its new home.  The Jewish Dutch population in the area was decimated during World War II with almost 90% of this group being deported to Nazi camps. A small number of survivors reestablished communities in a few towns in the province. In 1965 survivors and newcomers established a Liberal congregation - eventually named the Liberal Jewish Congregation of Gelderland (LJG) that now comprises 70 families and continues to grow.   Since 2005, LJG has been negotiating to reuse the former synagogue of Dieren, built in 1884, as its home. The building has not seen Jewish use since 1943, and was sold in 1952, and most recently has been a church.

 read more ...
CANADA - Friday, August 8, 2008

Former Prairie Synagogue on the Move
ISJM
A few weeks ago, we reported about an abandoned wooden synagogue in western Latvia and suggested that this might be a good candidate for transport to one of Latvia's "village museums," (known in Eastern Europe as scansens).  Little did we know that just such a move was being planned for a wooden synagogue in Western Canada.  This week in her blog, Ruth Ellen Gruber reported that the former Montefiore Institute in Sibbald, Alberta (Canada) is being moved to the Heritage Park in Calgary.

 read more ...
POLAND - Friday, July 25, 2008

Remarkable Discovery of Polychrome Matzevot (gravestones) in Radom
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
Approximately one hundred matzevot (gravestones) were discovered During recent construction work in Radom. Most of these are richly painted. It is not surprising to find Jewish gravestones in this way – since so many were removed during the Second World War and used for paving and other construction work (see recent report on Kremenets, Ukraine). But never before has such a large number of painted stones been found - where the color is so vividly preserved.

 read more ...
POLAND - Friday, July 25, 2008

Sochaczew Cemetery Cleaned and Murowana Goslina Memorial Planned
ISJM
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland cleaned the Jewish cemetery in Sochaczew (Mazowieckie province), site of the shared ohel of Rabbi Avraham Bornstein (1839-1910), founder of the Sochaczew hasidic dynasty, and his son Rabbi Shmuel Bornsztain (1856–1926), a frequent destination for Jewish pilgrims. Sochaczew was a major Hasidic center before the war.

Also, on August 7, 2008, a memorial tablet to commemorate the pre-World War II Jewish and Evangelical communities will be unveiled in Murowana Goslina (Wielkopolskie province). The ceremony begins at 16:30 in the Świętego Ducha Church on Dworcowa St.

 
TAJIKISTAN - Friday, July 25, 2008

More on Synagogue Demolition in Dushanbe
ISJM
Sergey Kravtsov, architect and architectural historian at the Center for Jewish Art sends the following update about the recent destruction of Tajikistan's only synagogue:
"Our architectural historian Zoya Arshavsky managed to organize the last-moment documentation of the compound. The work was done by a group of local Tajik architects. They drafted sketches and took measurements and photos on parallel with the bulldozer's work and lamentations of the community."

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, July 18, 2008

Richard Meier Luxury Apartments Completed on Brooklyn Site Once Set for Brunner's Monumental Union Temple
by Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Construction is complete and sales are underway of the apartments in the new luxury building "On Prospect Park" designed by architect Richard Meier at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, on the site that was once designated for the monumental Union Temple, a project scuttled by the Great Depression.

 read more ...
CZECH REPUBLIC - Friday, July 18, 2008

US & UK Synagogues Research Kladno (Czech Rep.) Torah Scrolls
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
More than forty years after the establishment of the Czech Scrolls Memorial Trust in London, congregations holding these survivors of the Holocaust continue to learn about the scrolls and the history and fate of the communities that owned and used them. These investigations can lead to close ties between Jews and Czech (non-Jewish) communities.
Since they were "rescued" in the early 1960s, the Trust has successfully restored and distributed over 1500 Torah scrolls collected in Prague during the Nazi occupation. In recent months, two congregations in the US and the UK have collaborated with a Christian community in Kladno, Czech Republic, to learn more about the history of two scrolls which came from that town, and to commemorate the hundreds of Jews of Kladno who were murdered.

 read more ...
GREECE - Friday, July 18, 2008

New Excavations for Subway Line Under Destroyed Thessaloniki Jewish Cemetery Destruction Raise Concerns
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
More than sixty years after one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe was destroyed to make room for a university campus in Thessaloniki (Salonika), Greece; excavation at the Aristotle University for a subway line has spurred new interest in the site's history, new concerns about the fate of the thousands of Jewish graves, and calls for broader public recognition that the University is built on the site of tens of thousands of Jewish graves.  The international community is also showing interest.  U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust issues, Ambassador J. Christian Kennedy, recently visited Greece to discuss the matter, which has been raised by the Greek Jewish community.

 read more ...
ROMANIA - Friday, July 18, 2008

Radauti (Radautz) Jewish Heritage Documented and Posted On-Line

Descendants of the Jews of Radautz in Bukovina, (now Radauti, Romania) have banded together to work with the local Jewish Community and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania to document the town's Jewish heritage –including all of the gravestones in the cemetery - and to make this information available on-line.

See: http://www.radautz-jewisheritage.org/index.html

Since 2005, the group has amassed thousands of photos of the cemetery gravestones and epitaphs, and these have now been listed in an online database.

Last year there were tensions between the "outsiders" and the local Jewish community which produced a flurry of accusations that spilled into the local media.  Now, however, misunderstandings seem to be resolved, and both groups are united in their commitment to maintain the historic cemetery and to develop a restoration program for the synagogue, which is, overall, still in good condition.

Click here for a slideshow of the synagogue showing where repairs are needed.  It was built in 1879.    

The synagogue, which is listed as a protected historic site, has recently been included in the "Action Plan for the Protection of the Jewish Heritage" adopted by the Romanian Government. A good portion of the costs for restoration, for which planning began in 2007, will be covered from this source. Additional funding for the project will certainly be needed.

 
UKRAINE - Friday, July 18, 2008

Poltava Holocaust Monument Vandalized
ISJM
The Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union cites a July 14, 2008 article in the "Versiya" newspaper reporting that a Holocaust memorial and "Mourning mother" memorial in the Ukrainian city of Poltava were smeared with paint, Ukrainian national symbols and anti-Semitic graffiti.  The monuments commemorate more than 3,000 Poltava Jews killed there on Nov. 23, 1941 and more than 5,000 Red Army prisoners of war and resistance fighters who were murdered there during World War II.

 
POLAND - Friday, July 11, 2008

Slupsk Holocaust Memorial Plaque Unveiled
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
On July 10, 2008, at a ceremony in Slupsk (Poland) a memorial tablet was unveiled to commemorate the deportation of the Jews from Slupsk (formerly Stolp) in Pomerania, now northwest Poland, to Auschwitz. The Plaque was installed at Deotymy 15a St. which today houses a Middle School, but was a Nazi transit camp for Jews during the war.

 
TAJIKISTAN - Friday, July 11, 2008

Tajikistan's synagogue demolished
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Reuters News Services has reported the demolition of the only synagogue in Tajikistan - a small one-story wood building in the capital city of Dushanbe.  The building was probably erected in the late 19th or early 20th century.  Demolition of the Jewish complex was first announced in 2004, and commenced in February 2006 when a mikveh and classroom building adjacent to the synagogue were razed.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, July 11, 2008

New Synagogue by Alfred Jacoby dedicated in Park City, Utah
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
German-Jewish Architect Alfred Jacoby has built his first synagogue in the United States, an elegant structure in the ski-resort town of Park City, Utah, home of the U.S. Ski team and the Sundance Film Festival. Temple Har Shalom was dedicated on June 27, 2008. Jacoby is the most prominent post-war synagogue architect in Germany. He achieved notice in America in 2002 at the time of a traveling exhibition of his work, which included a stop at the University of Utah. In the past two decades has designed synagogues in Darmstadt (1988), Heidelberg (1994), Aachen (1996), Offenbach (1998), Kassel (2000), and Chemnitz (2002).

 read more ...
LATVIA - Friday, July 11, 2008

Wooden synagogue in Subate faces collapse
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Architectural historian Sergey Kravtsov of the Center for Jewish Art (Jerusalem) reports that an abandoned wooden synagogue in Subate, Latvia documented three weeks ago is in serious danger of collapse.   The wooden synagogue in Subate was built in 1880 as a Chabad synagogue, and somehow survived the Second World War, when so many other wooden synagogues in the region were burned.  After the war, the building was used as a garage, and it was later abandoned. Now its roof is in terrible condition, and according to Kravtsov, it is not likely to survive a heavy snowfall. Still, it has managed to survive this far, and the walls appear to be fairly strong.

 read more ...
ISRAEL - Thursday, July 3, 2008

Death of Professor Bezalel Narkiss, Founder of Center for Jewish Art
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
It is with deep sadness that I report the death last week of Professor Bezalel Narkiss, Nicholas Landau Professor Emeritus of Art History at The Hebrew University, Jerusalem.   Professor Narkiss – or Tzali to generations of students and colleagues - was one of the world's foremost scholars and teachers of Jewish art, and the founder and former director of the Center for Jewish art at Hebrew University, Jerusalem.  Professor Narkiss was born in Jerusalem in 1926 and educated at The Hebrew University, and the Courtauld and Warburg Institutes at the UniversityLondon, from where he received his Ph.D. in 1962.  His dissertation on the Golden Haggadah was just one of his many close examinations of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts. That work began a lifetime commitment to the study and presentation of Hebrew Illuminated manuscripts in the British Isles.

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UKRAINE - Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Developments in Jewish Quarter in L'viv
By Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
It is period of uncertainty for the future of the Jewish quarter of L'viv, Ukraine, as properties in and around the historic district become available for new development, including lots  adjacent to the site of the 16th century Golden Rose Synagogue.  So, last week in L'viv, protagonists involved in the planning and development of the future of the city's historic Jewish neighborhood (part of the larger historic center which is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site) gathered together for a "roundtable" discussion sponsored by
The Center for Urban History of East Central Europe.  Part of the regular Kolo Lvova series, last month's topic was "Around Staroevreiska Street: At the Heart of Lviv's Jewish Heritage," and drew about 20 people, most of whom are in some way stakeholders in the future of the area.  This discussion was seen as an important step forward for a area with a contested history, and where there has been a lack of clear process in planning efforts.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wooden Synagogue of America' Old West (Leadville, Colorado) Rises Again
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
The rebuilding of one of the oldest synagogue buildings in the American West is nearing completion, after a 16-year effort.  The small but elegant wood Temple Israel in the former mining center of Leadville, Colorado, is in its fourth and final phase of restoration thanks to a new grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund. Photos of the most recent construction work – in which the roof and interior were substantially recreated, have just been posted on-line.

 read more ...
POLAND - Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wrocław's White Stork Synagogue Restoration Continues, Neo-Classical Façade (1829) by Carl Ferdinand Langhans now Complete
by Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
The on-gain, off-again restoration of the White Stork Synagogue in Wrocław, Poland (formerly Breslau, Germany) is nearing completion. The historic is the center of the local Jewish community. It was returned to the Jewish community in the 1990s, and was on the first Jewish heritage projects in Poland to receive substantial funding from Germany.  But after initial building stabilization work and interior restoration, the project slowed. Now, ISJM member Ruth Ellen Gruber reports that work is continuing at a faster pace - thanks in part to efforts of the Norwegian Jewish singer Bente Kahan and the Bente Kahan Foundation, established in 2006.  Restoration of the impressive synagogue facade and the Aron ha-Kodesh (ark) are almost complete.

 read more ...
UKRAINE - Friday, June 27, 2008

Kremenets cemetery restoration project identifies hundreds of gravestones as parking lot pavements
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
Researchers for the Kremenets (Ukraine) Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project have identified several areas in the town where Jewish gravestones from the large cemetery are being used as parking lot paving, first installed during the Second World War by the occupying Germans, and in place ever since.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, June 27, 2008

Fate of early modern synagogue in Phoenix, Arizona, linked to Holocaust survivors and Steven Spielberg, remains unresolved 
by Samuel D. Gruber

ISJM
Demolition of the former synagogue known in Phoenix as Beth Hebrew (or Beth Hebree), an important early modern American synagogue, is still a likely possibility, despite efforts of local preservationist and developer Michael Levine who has sought to save the building.  Many architects and historians in the United States and Europe have written to the Phoenix Mayor and other officials to save the building.

 read more ...
JAMAICA - Friday, June 27, 2008

Documentation of 18th Jewish Cemetery at Hunt's Bay
(Ainsley Henriques, Rachel Frankel, Anne Hersh and Samuel Gruber contributed to this article)
ISJM
In January (2008), Caribbean Volunteer Expeditions (CVE) sponsored a successful project to inventory and document existing conditions of the historic Hunt's Bay Jewish Cemetery, the oldest known Jewish cemetery in Jamaica.  ISJM provided logistical support and funds to purchase equipment necessary for the survey.

 read more ...
CZECH REPUBLIC - Friday, June 20, 2008

Restoration of Baroque Synagogue in Jičín (Czech Republic) complete
by Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Following nearly eight years (2001-2008) the restoration of the magnificent Baroque synagogue in Jičín, North Bohemia (Czech Republic) is complete. The Prague Jewish Community will officially open the building to the public on Thursday, June 19, 2008.  The restoration project is part of a continuing effort by the Czech Jewish Community to reclaim, protect and preserver its historic, cultural and artistic heritage.

 read more ...
GERMANY - Friday, June 20, 2008

Architects chosen to design Cologne Jewish Museum on site of ancient synagogue
by Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Another Jewish Museum is planned for Europe, this time in the ancient city of Cologne, the site of the oldest physical remains of a Jewish community in Germany.  The new museum project, which has been discussed for some time, received an official launch on June 13th when the prominent and critically acclaimed German architectural firm of Wandel Hoefer Lorch + Hirsch was chosen winner of an international competition for the museum design.  Among the firm's many projects are the recently completed (2007) Jewish Museum and synagogue in Munich. The decision is not yet final, the town senate will decide in August. There remain many concerns about the financing of the project.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, June 20, 2008

Syracuse (USA) Temple Society of Concord added to National Register of Historic Places
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
On June 18th, the nomination of the 1910-11 Classical Revival style Temple Society of Concord synagogue in  Syracuse, New York to the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places was unanimously approved by the NY State Review Board meeting in Syracuse.  Final designation is expected in Washington, DC later this summer. The historic designation helps kick off the congregation's centennial celebrations for the building.

Temple Concord is home to one of the oldest Jewish congregations (1839) in America.  The present building is the congregation third home.  It was designed by local architect Alfred Taylor and noted American Jewish architect Arnold W. Brunner, whose 150th birthday is being celebrated this year.  The nomination was prepared for the congregation by ISJM which, since 2007, has used former classroom space at the Temple for its offices.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, June 20, 2008

Art Deco Temple Emanuel of Paterson (New Jersey) stripped of most of its synagogue features
by Samuel D. Gruber
ISJM
Temple Emanuel of Paterson, New Jersey, the sumptuously decorated Art Deco masterpiece by Frederick Wentworth (1864-1943) that was dedicated in September 1929, was sold earlier this year. The building, located within the National Register Eastside Park Historic District had been on the market for a decade.

On January 6, 2008, members of the congregation removed the temple's limestone cornerstone and unsealed its lead time capsule.  In addition, scores of original religious and decorative features made by numerous talented (still-anonymous) artisans, including carved walnut ark doors, bronze dedication plaques, and dedicatory and ceremonial items, were removed – often with considerable effort - and taken away. Stained glass doors, brass door plates, lighting, a bronze vestibule door, unique bronze radiator covers, and many other superb Art Deco decorations crafted for the temple were carried off with varying degrees of care by several congregation members for storage.  A witness reports that there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the removals, and no attempt to inventory, catalogue or photograph what was taken.

 read more ...
ENGLAND - Friday, June 20, 2008

Manchester (England) Jewish organizations host seminar on synagogue maintenance
Faith in Maintenance is a new initiative in the UK offering instruction on the maintenance of historic places of worship. The training program (similar to workshops organized by Partners for Sacred Places in the US since the early 1990s), is designed to help congregants, building administrators and others to better understand how their buildings work and how to solve problems caused by leaky gutters, blocked drains and other common causes.
On July 13, Faith in Maintenance, in association with Manchester Jewish organizations, will offer a free all-day course open to anyone involved in synagogue maintenance. The course will combine lectures and practical exercise at Higher Crumpsall & Higher Broughton Synagogue where conservation professionals will teach how to identify defects and potential problems.  The program will include a lecture on synagogue architecture by Dr Sharman Kadish, Director of Jewish Heritage UK, and will also offer an opportunity to visit the Manchester Jewish Museum. A kosher buffet lunch will be provided at the synagogue.
This course is hosted by Manchester Jewish Museum, Jewish Heritage UK and Higher Crumpsall & Higher Broughton Synagogue   For more information or to book a seat, please contact: Kate Minnis, SPAB Faith in Maintenance, 37 Spital Square, London E1 6DY Tel: 020 7456 0913 Email: katem@spab.org.uk
Faith in Maintenance is run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage.

 
POLAND - Friday, June 20, 2008

International conference, June 24-26, 2008, on "Modern Jewish Culture: Diversities and Unities" at the University of Wroclaw, Poland
Speakers will address various forms of expressing identities and traditions, including language, folklore, literature, film, art, and music. Questions of authenticity, representation, and construction, especially for locations boasting of Jewish heritage but devoid of Jews, will be examined in political and socio-historical context. The conference marks the publication of Jewish Cultural Studies: Expression, Representation, and Identity, the first volume of a new Jewish Cultural Studies series being published by the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization (http://www.littman.co.uk/jcs) on behalf of the
Jewish Folklore and Ethnology section of the American Folklore Society and the Council on the Anthropology of Jews and Judaism of the American Anthropological Association
(http://www.afsnet.org/sections/jewish for the Culture and Languages of Polish Jews, ).  It is organized in conjunction with the Research CenterUniversity of Wroclaw, and the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. All presentations will be in English.

The conference will include cultural events and tours in addition to sessions featuring presentations and discussion. For the conference program see: http://www.judaistyka.uni.wroc.pl/news.php.  The conference program includes distinguished scholars, cultural figures and activists, many of whom are involved in the documentation and explication of aspects of Jewish art, architecture and cultural heritage. Announced speakers include:  Moshe Rosman (Israel), Mikhail Chlenov (Russia), Harvey E. Goldberg (Israel), Jonathan Webber (UK), Dan and Batsheva Ben-Amos (USA), Steve Siporin (USA), Ruth Ellen Gruber (Italy), Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (USA), Cilly Kugelmann (Germany), Mikel Koven (UK), Richard I. Cohen (Israel), Shalom Sabar
(Israel), Agnieszka Jagodzinska (Poland), Haya Bar-Itzhak (Israel), Karen Sarhon (Turkey), Andras Kovacs (Hungary), Kostanty Gebert (Poland), Joachim Schloer (UK), Michael Schudrich (Poland), Marcin Wodzinski (Poland), and Simon J. Bronner (USA).

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BELGIUM - Friday, June 13, 2008

Brussels Synagogue Named Great Synagogue of Europe
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
The Great Synagogue of Brussels, Belgium, on the Rue de la Regence, was renamed the Great Synagogue of Europe in a ceremony hosted by the Conference of European Rabbis and the Communaute Israelite de Bruxelles on June 4, 2008.  The massive building, designed by architect Desire DeKeyser in 1878, rises cliff-like from the street, and projects a sense of stability and entitlement – of the sort the Belgium's Jews aspired to in the late 19th century.

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POLAND - Friday, June 13, 2008

Part of the Jewish cemetery in Poznan, Poland Rededicated.
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
According to a story in the Jerusalem Post "The head of Poland's Jewish community Piotr Kadlcik says a small corner of Poznan's former Jewish cemetery has been restored and was dedicated Tuesday [June 3, 2008] by Rabbi Michael Schudrich. This restores the cemetery's status as a sacred burial ground, although no further graves will be added Kadlcik says "It is important to us that this could be saved" because the presence of the several hundred square-meter plot "shows that Poznan was a multicultural city." At the center of the plot is the restored grave of author and Talmud scholar Rabbi Akiva Eger.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, June 13, 2008

National Trust for Historic Preservation Names New York's Lower East Side to 2008 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, America's foremost historic preservation organization, announced on May 20th its list of eleven most endangered sites in the United States.  As in many recent years, the Trust has chosen not to emphasize specific buildings, but has sounded the alarm about the real or potential destruction of entire historic neighborhoods, cityscapes and landscapes.  On this year's list is New York City's Lower East Side, the historic home to multiple waves of immigrant populations, including hundreds of thousands of East European Jews who settled in the area (mixing or displacing earlier immigrant groups) especially between the 1880s until the First World War.

 read more ...
CZECH REPUBLIC - Friday, June 13, 2008

Restored Synagogue Reopened as a Museum in Straznice, Czech Republic.
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
The Prague Monitor reports that the former synagogue in Straznice, Moravia (Czech Republic) was recently reopened after a long restoration process that took 15 years to complete.  The 1804 synagogue had been in a state of ruin since the Germans occupied the town in 1941.  The restoration was sponsored by the Brno Jewish Community and was overseen by architect Jaroslav Klenovsky.  The community and architect had previously successfully organized the restoration of the synagogue in Boskovice.  The former synagogue will be used by the town museum for exhibitions.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, June 13, 2008

Museum at Eldridge Street (New York) wins Award for Interactive Installation
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
The Museum at Eldridge Street (formerly the Eldridge Street Project) has won the Gold MUSE Award for Interactive Installation from the American Association of Museums for its interactive tables, an exhibition that allows visitors to explore many layer of history, art and architecture through interaction with a model of New York's Lower East Side.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, June 13, 2008

Judaica Auction in New York June 16th
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
An Auction of rare and antique Judaica ceremonial objects, silver, art, antiques, manuscripts and books will be held by J. Greenstein & Co., Inc 490 Kings Highway Brooklyn NY 11223 on Oct 30, 2006 at the Radisson Martinique on Broadway, NYC.

Click here for more details and the full online catalog

 
ISJM Webwatch - Friday, June 13, 2008

European Website www.jewish-heritage-europe.eu includes Extensive Lists and Descriptions of Jewish Sites
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
The new and useful website www.jewish-heritage-europe.eu has been expanding to include extensive information about Jewish heritage sites in Europe.  To date, in-depth listings and descriptions of synagogues, cemeteries, Holocaust sites and museums are posted for Albania, Andorra, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and Vatican City.  Files will soon be uploaded for Jewish sites in Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Latvia and Moldova.

 
USA - Friday, June 6, 2008

Screening of Before the Flame Goes Out: The Romaniote Jews in Ioannina and New York, a documentary film by Vincent Giordano at New York's Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) on June 19, 2008
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
In association with the photographic exhibition Before the
Flame Goes Out: The Romaniote Jews in Ioannina and New York on view at the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in New York (through July 2, 2008), a rough cut of the documentary film created as part of the documentation project will be screened at the museum on June 19th at 6:30 p.m.  Photographer and film maker Vincent Giordano will speak about the project and his work.  Giordano has been documenting myriad aspects of the synagogues, community and culture of Romaniote Jews in New York and Ioannina, Greece since 2002. The ongoing project, consists of high-quality still photography, motion picture film and audio, documenting the synagogues and their art, the congregations, and the life stories of the congregants who have managed to maintain their traditions for millennia.  Before the Flame Goes Out has been supported by major grants from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation, The Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund, The Goldie and David Blanksteen Foundation, the Cahnman Foundation and anonymous donors.  ISJM gratefully acknowledges the contributions of these and other supporters.

For more on the exhibition, visit the MOBIA website at:
http://www.mobia.org/exhibitions/detail.php?exhibition_id=49
For more on Vincent Giordano's project, visit his website at:
romaniotelegacy.org

 
USA - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Former Beth Israel Synagogue in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, on National Register of Historic Places
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
The small Temple Beth Israel synagogue in Stevens Point, Wisconsin (USA) built more than a century ago was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 2008. A ceremony will take place on June 15th to celebrate the designation and to open the building, which houses a permanent exhibit about Jewish religious practices and the history of the Stevens Point Jewish Community, to the public.

In appearance, the building is typical of many small town synagogues built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It combines vernacular and historicist architectural elements in a manner typical of local carpenters and contractors.  Beth Israel is a rectangular wood frame building with a clipped gable roof.  Its distinguishing elements are its Gothic pointed windows, particularly a large double window set in the entrance façade.  The doorway is off-center to the right.

Beth Israel, built in 1905, is the third oldest synagogue building in the State of Wisconsin and the oldest synagogue with its sanctuary intact.  In 1985, when the congregation could no longer supply a minyan, they disbanded the congregation and deeded the building to the Portage County Historical Society in 1985 to serve as a museum the Jewish history of the region, and for document various other aspects of local history.

Research for the National Register listing was carried out by Mark Seiler of Stevens Point, who reconstructed much of the Jewish history of the town.  According to Seiler’s research, Temple Beth Israel was the first Jewish congregation in central Wisconsin, established a decade before congregations in Arpin and Wausau. The development of the Stevens Point Jewish community in Stevens Point was part of the third wave of Jewish immigration to Wisconsin after 1880.  Reflecting the traditions of its largely Eastern European immigrant founders, Beth Israel was organized as an orthodox congregation, but in 1940 Rabbi Curt Reach, a refugee from Danzig, Germany (now Gdansk, Poland), was hired, and the congregation affiliated with the Conservative Movement.  At its peak, the synagogue served about forty families from the area.

Read the National Register Nomination for a more detailed history.
See also http://www.pchswi.org/synagogue/synagogue.htm

 
AFRICA - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jay Waronker continues documentation of Sub-Saharan Africa Synagogues
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
American Architect Jay Waronker, who documented synagogues in India in the 1990s, will be in East Africa this summer (2008) continuing his documentation of the synagogue architecture of Sub-Saharan Africa begun with a Fulbright grant in 2006.  A trained architect, Waronker is especially known for his highly detailed by evocative watercolor paintings of Indian Synagogues which have been exhibited widely.  His choice to supplement more conventional means of building documentation with paintings links him to a long traditional of architectural illustrators who have recorded synagogue architecture since the 17th century.

Waronker also helped organize the permanent exhibition in the recently restored former synagogue of Chennamangalam (Kerala), India.  This summer Waronker will be working in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. His account of the 1926 Hebrew Congregation Synagogue in Maputo Mozambique can be read on-line at: Maputo's Hebrew Congregation Synagogue

To help sponsor Prof. Waronker’s African synagogue documentation project contact ISJM or send tax-deductible contribution to ISJM, Box 201, 118 Julian Place, Syracuse, NY, 13210.  Wrtie “Waronket” in the memo line.

 
USA - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Minnesota’s B’nai Abraham Synagogue to Reopen as Cultural Center in Summer 2008
By Samuel Gruber
ISJM
B’nai Abraham of Virginia, Minnesota, is the only surviving synagogue of the Minnesota Iron Range.  Next year the building will celebrate its centennial.  It almost didn’t make it this long, but thanks to the efforts of local preservationists who banded together in 2005 as the Friends of B’nai Abraham, the building is undergoing restoration, and a transformation form a house of worship to a regional cultural center.  To date close to $300,000 has been raised in grants and from private contributions and restoration of the building is far advanced.   A new sub-floor has been laid, the arched ceiling has been repaired, and the original pews have been returned.  A new lower level has been created nad new mechanical systems are being installed.  Still ahead is the challenging and costly work of restoring the exquisite stained glass windows.  Images of the windows and the progress of the restoration work can be tracked on the Friends’ excellent website: www.IronRangeJewishHeritage.org


When completed, the restored building will be used for a variety of cultural and educational programs by the Virginia Area Historical Society, which will manage the building.   Many programs are already planned for June and July 2008, including an open house and tour for all those agencies and organizations that have provided funding and other support for the project.  The Minnesota Humanities Center will use the building as a site for its summer teacher-training workshop: Building America: Minnesota’s Iron Range, U.S. Industrialization, and the creation of a World Power.  ISJM member Marilyn Chiat will speak about the synagogue’s architecture and historical context at one of the workshops.

 
UNITED STATES - Monday, May 26, 2008

San Francisco's new museum owns no art, focuses on ideas
By Sue Fishkoff

JTA
San Francisco - The Contemporary Jewish Museum, set to open June 8 in its new San Francisco
location, is a mind-blowingly grand celebration of what Jewish sensibilities can contribute to the American cultural experience. It’s also the latest example of the Jewish museum as event rather than institution. Several things set this ambitious new creation apart.
First is the sheer scale: a $47.5 million, 63,000-square-foot building designed by Daniel Libeskind, the famed architect of Berlin’s Jewish Museum and the master site plan for the rebuilt World Trade Center. The facility, which incorporates an abandoned 1907 PG&E power station into a design inspired by "chai," the Hebrew word for life, fairly screams high-concept, but in a comfortable, northern California kind of way.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Friday, May 23, 2008

‘Jewish Vision’ Arrives At Tyler Museum Of Art in Texas
Tyler Paper.com
Tyler, Texas - A panoramic view of a cultural identity spread across a broad canvas of history is the focus as the Tyler Museum of Art prepares to open its next major exhibition, The Eye of the Collector: The Jewish Vision of Sigmund R. Balka.Celebrating more than five decades of collecting and study by celebrated attorney and civic activist Sigmund Ronell Balka of New York, the exhibition opens to the public today and continues through Aug. 10 in the Museum’s North Gallery. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

 read more ...
CZECH REPUBLIC - Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stolen plates back at Czech National Cemetery in Terezin
ČeskéNoviny
Terezin - The staff of the Czech Terezin National Memorial today pasted the first 115 new resin plates on the graves that are to replace the total 824 bronze plates stolen there earlier this year, Memorial director Jan Munk told CTK.
Unlike the bronze plates, they will not attract metal scrap thieves. As many as 824 bronze plates with the names of the victims of the Gestapo prison and ghetto in Terezin and the concentration camp in nearby Litomerice were stolen in April. The thief inflicted a damage of 2.5 million crowns on the National Memorial in Terezin. He faces up to eight years in prison, if found guilty.

 read more ...
GERMANY - Sunday, May 18, 2008

New museum in Munich looks at history of city's Jewish community
It chronicles culture's struggles past, present

By Susan Whitney
Deseret News
For nearly 300 years there were no Jews in Munich. None.
Those 300 years without one Jew is made real at Munich's newest museum, Judisches Museum Munchen (Jewish Museum of Munich), where displays are presented in both the German and English languages. The museum opened a year ago.  On the main floor of the museum a timeline stretches along one long, white wall. When visitors walk past the timeline, they can't help but feel the length of all those years without one Jew in Munich.  It seems that in 1442, Duke Albert III ordered all Jews expelled from the Dutchy of Bavaria. (That's where Munich is located, in the Bavarian portion of what is now Germany.) A handful of Jews were allowed back in 1725.

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UNITED STATES - Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jewish Living Publishes a List of the Top 10 Jewish Museums in the U.S.
By Jill Weiner with Adam Weiner
Jewish Living
Delving into the world of Jewish museums sent us straight to the intersection of art, history, and culture. It also revealed that these once-staid institutions are in the midst of an awesome renaissance. In the past few years, as the ranks of museums in the United States and Canada have grown, so has their ability to entrance, educate, and enrich their visitors.

 read more ...
UNITED STATES - Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spertus exhibit 'Imaginary Coordinates' reopens
chicagotribune.com
Chicago - An exhibit on Holy Land boundaries and maps reopened Thursday in the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies museum after a week's suspension.
Museum director Rhoda Rosen said the "Imaginary Coordinates" hiatus was needed to shift fragile items away from harsh light. Hourly tours led by her, selected docents and educators have been added to foster discussion about issues presented by the show, particularly Israelis' and Palestinians' differing ideas of homeland.  She acknowledged that after the show opened May 2, some visitors expressed concern about its geopolitical subtext but not about any exhibits.
She said the show's content was not changed.

 read more ...
USA - Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Former Vilna Center for Jewish Heritage Changes Name, Expands Mission
ISJM
The organization formerly known as the Vilna Center for Jewish Heritage, Inc., has new goals, a new mission statement, and a new name to reflect the changes.  Under the new name “The Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture,” the organization has developed a five-year plan to restore the historic Vilna Shul to its original splendor and revitalize the building as a center of Jewish culture.  Their new mission statement reads: “The Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture, preserves the historic Vilna Shul on Beacon Hill as a unique Jewish community venue and resource. It presents educational and cultural programs and exhibits that explore the Jewish experience of Boston.”  The Shul is presently hosting programs and cultural events, but the organization has much bigger plans for the future.  In order to reach their goals for 2008, the Vilna Shul must raise $1,500,000 by the end of the year.  Follow the link below to learn more about the project or to make a donation.   

 read more ...
GERMANY - Monday, May 5, 2008

Saving Europe's cemeteries and memories
By Toby Axelrod
JTA
Berlin - Eckehart Ruthenberg stands beside tombstones overgrown with moss and layered with leaves to have a smoke, then dons a yarmulke and enters the gateless cemetery.  This nearly forgotten Jewish burial site in the Polish forest is one of 600 that Ruthenberg, a non-Jewish German, has documented painstakingly. His self-imposed mandate is to rescue the names of Jewish families. The cemeteries "are like orphans who were abandoned," Ruthenberg says. "I adopt them." Many non-Jewish Germans have tried to restore dignity to Jewish cemeteries, but Ruthenberg's efforts range farther than most. Since 1987, he has been "adopting" cemeteries across the German state of Brandenburg and into western Poland.

 read more ...
POLAND - Monday, May 5, 2008

Slawatycze Cemetery Rededication Ceremony
ISJM
In the summer of 2007, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland in cooperation with the Jewish Community in Warsaw and Landsmanschaft of Slawatycze began to realize the project of restoring and commemorating the Jewish cemetery in Slawatycze (Lubelskie province). Since then, a new gate has been erected and a memorial plaque commemorating the Jews of Slawatycze was recently added.
The ceremony to unveil the new memorial tablet will be held at the cemetery on May 19, 2008, at 12:00. Rabbi Michael Schudrich will be presiding.

 read more ...
REPLUBLIC OF GEORGIA - Sunday, May 4, 2008

Jewish Cemetery in Georgia Vandalized
ISJM
Ms. Marine Solomonishvili of the International Foundation LEA & Council of Jewish Women in Georgia reports that on April 30, 2008 the Jewish cemetery in the Georgian city of city Batumi (Adjara Region of Georgia) was vandalized. Swastikas and Nazi slogans were written on gravestones.  In the context of Georgian-Jewish relations, this a rare act, as demonstrated by the conference which was held in the capital city of Tbilisi on the following day dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust.  
 
The day-long symposium “In Memory of Holocaust” was organized by the International Foundation Lea & Council of Jewish Women and Public Defender of Georgia, Council of National Minorities under auspices of Public Defender of Georgia and held at the Public Defender’s Office.  Participants included Mr. Sozar Subari, Public Defender of Georgia; Mrs. Tamar Kintsurashvili advisor to the President of Georgia; H.E. Mr. Shabtai Tsur  Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of State of Israel to Georgia; Mr. Stenli Abramovich and Mr. Max Wizell representatives of JDC-Israel; Lev Samovski representatives of Jafi in Georgia; Rabbi Avi Melekh Rozenblant and Cohen Rafiel Mesengiser, representatives Georgian Jewish religious society; Tom Trier, representative of the European Center of Minority Issues(ECMI); representatives Department of Refugees from Abchazia;  representatives  of Sakrebulo - Tbilisi City Hall;  representatives of the different governmental and nongovernmental organizations including women’s NGOs, Jewish and different ethnic minority Communities, and others
 

For more information contact:  

Marine Solomonishvili
International Foundation LEA & Council of Jewish Women in Georgia
12 Lermontov str.,Tbilisi,Georgia
Mobile: +995 93 500 775

msolomonishvili@yahoo.com
leasol@hotmail.com

www.itic.org.ge/lea

 
USA - Friday, May 2, 2008

Free Lecture Series "Academic Angles" @ the Eldridge Street Museum in New York
How did the Jews of the Lower East Side acclimate to their new country? How did they express themselves politically, socially and religiously? 
The Eldridge Street Museum is hosting a series of free lectures with leading scholars of American Jewish History who will speak about the adaptation and contributions of immigrant Jews in America. The program will begin with Professor Tony Michels exploring the dynamic political culture of the Lower East Side. The event is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 read more ...
CZECH REPUBLIC - Friday, May 2, 2008

Jewish Museum in Prague Most Visited Museum in the Czech Republic
jewishmuseum.cz 2008 Newsletter
Each year, the Czech Ministry of Culture provides a statistical overview of the activities of museums and galleries in the Czech Republic with information, for example, on visitor numbers and the amount of cultural and educational events and exhibitions held. We have just received data on the activities of the 478 institutions surveyed in 2006. Attracting 629,383 visitors, the Jewish Museum in Prague retained its position as the most visited museum in the country and came second overall for the number of cultural and educational events held.

 read more ...
CZECH REPUBLIC - Friday, May 2, 2008

Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities Available @ Prague Jewish Museum Website
jewishmuseum.cz 2008 Newsletter
Among the Jewish Museum’s important activities is the gathering of information on the development and history of Jewish settlement in the Czech lands. For several years, this information has been available in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Settlements and Memorial Sites in the Czech Republic, which can be accessed on the website www.jewishmuseum.cz/en/adokuzo.htm. This encyclopedia is being compiled on an ongoing basis due to the increasing amount of data involved. 700 of the more than 1,300 entries that are being put together are now available to order, although these too are continually being supplemented and updated.

 read more ...
UKRAINE - Friday, May 2, 2008

Vandals Strike Jewish Cemetery Near Odessa
UCSJ: Bigotry Monitor
A Jewish cemetery in the town of Bolgrad in Ukraine's Odessa Region was vandalized, according to an April 25 report by the Russian Jewish web site Jewish.ru. The vandals damaged eleven gravestones sometime between April 20 and April 24.

 read more ...
USA - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

$2 Million Grant Awarded to Former Oheb Shalom Synagogue in Newark
Greater Newark Conservancy City Bloom Newsletter
An anonymous, longtime valued supporter and donor recently awarded Greater Newark Conservancy with a $2 million challenge grant to launch the Conservancy’s new $6 million Campaign for the Building. The new Campaign will provide the Conservancy with the necessary funds to complete the renovation of the Main Building, located adjacent to the site of the Conservancy’s Prudential Outdoor Learning Center in downtown Newark. Renovations to this historic building, once home to Oheb Shalom Congregation, Adas Israel and Mishnayes and later Metropolitan Baptist Church, will allow us to increase our year round programming for children and adults in urban communities. The renovated building will include classrooms, a lecture hall, exhibit space and an educational kitchen.

 read more ...
USA - Monday, April 28, 2008

Jewish Museum Milwaukee Opens
By Charles Benson
TodaysTMJ4.com
Milwaukee - It has been 20 years in the making, but Monday the doors to the Jewish Museum Milwaukee finally opened to the public. The Jewish Museum is a walk down memory lane. Some of it painful. Some of it powerful. "I think it's a nice way to show an ethnic community involvement with this city," said educator Ellie Gettinger. Gettinger walked us through the museum where there are exhibits and stories about the Jewish heritage and culture in Milwaukee as waves of Jewish people arrived here in the 19th and 20th centuries.

 read more ...
USA - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

6th North American Chevra Kadisha Conference
The 6th annual North American Chevra Kadisha Conference will be held in Edison, NJ at the Holiday Inn Hotel - Raritan Conference Center - June 1- 3, 2008 - Sunday 1pm to Tuesday 1pm.  Check the ISJM calendar of events or the link below for more information.

 read more ...
CZECH REPUBLIC - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Czech police find all plates stolen from Terezin cemetery
ČeskéNoviny
Terezin- The Czech police have found all of the more than 800 bronze plates that unknown thieves stole from the National Cemetery in Terezin recently at a salvage point, but all of them broken, the regional supplement to Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.
"The police have advised us that they have found 580 kilograms of bronze pieces that corresponds to the about 800 lost bronze plates," Stanislav Krejny, from the National Memorial in Terezin, told the paper.

 read more ...
POLAND - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Poland remembers ghetto uprising
BBC News
Warsaw - The Polish and Israeli presidents have led events to mark the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The main ceremony was held at a monument honouring hundreds of Jewish fighters who resisted German attempts to eradicate the ghetto. Polish President Lech Kaczynski said the world must remain vigilant to prevent a repeat of such horrors. Israeli President Shimon Peres said that the fighters represented the victory of humanity over bestiality. The uprising was the largest act of Jewish resistance in the Holocaust. Paying tribute during the ceremony, a Jewish cantor sang a memorial prayer to the victims, and wreaths were laid at the foot of the monument. Several hundred people were present, including Holocaust survivors, politicians and members of the public.

 read more ...
CZECH REPUBLIC - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bronze plates stolen from graves at Terezin memorial cemetery
ČeskéNoviny
Terezin- An unknown perpetrator stole 327 bronze plates with the names of wartime victims from the National Cemetery in Terezin (Theresienstadt) last week, Jiri Janousek, deputy director of the Terezin Memorial, said.
The police are searching for the perpetrators intensively, Litomerice police spokeswoman Alena Romova said. If found guilty they face up to eight years in prison. Victims from the Gestapo prison in Terezin's little fortress, the Jewish ghetto in the town and the concentration camp in nearby Litomerice lie buried at the National Cemetery.

 read more ...
POLAND - Monday, April 14, 2008

Zamosc Synagogue Revitalization Project
The project of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland "Revitalization of the Renaissance Synagogue in Zamosc for the Needs of the Chassidic Route and the Local Community" was placed on a primary list of projects recommended for co-funding by the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.
The Zamosc synagogue is the finest Renaissance synagogue in Poland and one of the most interesting in Europe. It is also a part of the unique Renaissance urban complex of the Old Town of Zamosc, listed at the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The current technical condition of the synagogue is critical – the building urgently requires restoration works.

Please visit the website of the Zamosc synagogue revitalization project, where you can find photographs of the building and three dimensional visualizations of the synagogue after restoration.

PLEASE, HELP US TO SAVE THE ZAMOSC SYNAGOGUE! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT.

We ask everyone who cares about the monuments of the Jewish culture to make a donation into the given bank account for "The Zamość synagogue".

PLN: PL23 1030 1508 0000 0005 0294 3006
USD: PL98 1030 1508 0000 0005 0294 3014

 read more ...
BELARUS - Sunday, April 13, 2008

Belarus Jewish graves get little respect
By Associated Press
The Jerusalem Post
Gomel - Workers rebuilding a sports stadium on the site of an 18th century Jewish cemetery in Belarus say they have no choice but to consign the bones to city dumps. "It's impossible to pack an entire cemetery into sacks," said worker Mikhail Gubets, adding that he stopped counting the skulls when the number went over 100. But critics say it's part of a pattern of callous indifference toward Belarus's Jewish heritage that was prevalent when the country was a Soviet republic and hasn't changed. The stadium in Gomel, Belarus's second largest city and a center of Jewish life until World War II, is one of four that were built on top of Jewish cemeteries around the country. The Gomel cemetery was destroyed when the stadium was built in 1961, but the remains lay largely undisturbed until this spring when reconstruction began and a bulldozer turned up the first bones.

 read more ...
CZECH REPUBLIC - Friday, April 11, 2008

WW2 tyrannicide to have a monument in Prague
By Hana Pražáková
Aktuálně
Prague - The Prague 8 municipal authorities are going to announce a public bid next week for a memorial of the Second World War Operation Anthropoid. The monument is supposed to be aimed not only at commemorating the operation that resulted in the assassination of the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich, but also at serving as a reminder of military honor in general. The memorial is expected to be located at the spot where the tyrannicide - or the assassination of a tyrant - took place. And this is going to be in spite of the road curve in Kobylisy where Heydrich was slain no longer exists.

 read more ...
ENGLAND - Saturday, April 5, 2008

Museum's lesson in tolerance
By Mike Keegan
Manchester Evening News
Manchester could become the home of a new national tolerance centre.

Bosses at the city's Jewish Museum have announced plans for an ambitious project that they believe could `change the way future generations think'. They want to build the centre at their Cheetham Hill Road site. Using the latest technology visitors would be taught how to challenge racism and about respecting other religions and cultures. The building would be used by youngsters from across Britain and bosses are setting their sights on visits becoming part of the National Curriculum. Museum director Stuart Hilton said that he could think of `no better place' to house the centre than Manchester.

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EUROPE - Monday, March 17, 2008

New Roles for Old Synagogues
By Joseph R. Hoffman
The Jerusalem Post
"Was your family from here, dear?" Rivka and Ben-Zion Dorfman heard that question time and again during their visits to Central Europe in the late 1980s. Why else, the townfolk thought, would anyone travel to an all-but-unknown village in formerly communist countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia, if not for family reasons?  But the townfolk were surprised by the answer. A lively, determined, then-sexagenarian retired couple from Jerusalem were there to document synagogues in the small towns and hamlets that had lost their Jewish congregations. When villagers would protest that this was a waste of time because there was no longer a synagogue to be seen, only a structure that is now a factory or a derelict building, the couple would respond, "That's exactly why we're here."

 read more ...

      
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