Canada: Little Synagogue on the Prairie to open June 28
ISJM, June 5, 2009
The Jewish Community of Calgary will celebrate the grand opening of the moved and newly restored 1916 Montefiore prairie synagogue on June 28, 2009 at 6 pm at Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary.
A good read for preservation professionals and those interested in the history of small town and frontier synagogue is the original project proposal prepared about the Montefiore Synagogue for the Heritage Park project in 2006.
You can access it as a PDF file here.
Former Prairie Synagogue on the Move
ISJM, August 8, 2008
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.
The small wooden synagogue, built on the Canadian prairie in 1913, was on the move in June, as a flatbed truck carried the small structure to Calgary's Heritage Park where it will be installed and restored as the relic of a now lost part of Canada's past, and as a talisman for Calgary's modern Jewish community.
Click here for a picture of the synagogue being moved
The synagogue was built as part of the Montefiore Agricultural Colony near the town of Sibbald in 1913 and was in use for thirteen years. Later it was used as a residence, and then abandoned. Its rediscovery, recovery and restoration is a project of the "Little Synagogue on the Prairie Project."
Jewish life on the Canadian prairie was documented by Harry Gutkin in his 1980 book Journey into Our Heritage: The story of the Jewish People in the Canadian West. Now city Jews (and non-Jews) won't have to travel far to get a taste of that past. The total cost of the move and restoration is estimated at $1 million dollars Canadian.
There are many precedents for moving historic buildings, and several small synagogues similar in size and materials to this one have been moved in the United States, notably in San Diego and San Leandro (California). Masonry synagogues have been moved in Madison (Wisconsin) and Washington, DC. Of course, parts of many synagogues form around the world have been brought to Israel – some adapted for new use, and some restored in museum settings.