Vilna Shul (Boston) Update
On Sunday, May 17th, 1998, the Bostonís Vilna Center presented "The Synagogue in the Community: Relationship Between Design and Use," a symposium which coincided with National Preservation Week. Panelists used the architecture and recently discovered decorative mural schemes in the Vilna Shul (see JHR I:3-4, 27) to discuss the history of the Jewish community in Boston. Participants included Ellen Smith, Curator of the American Jewish Historical Society and co-editor of The Jews of Boston; Tom L. Freudenheim, (then) Executive Director, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, N.Y.; David E. Kaufman, Synagogue Historian, The Jewish Theological Seminary, N.Y.; and Brian Powell, Conservator, formerly with The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities and discoverer of the Vilna Center wall art. The symposium was funded in part by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Concluding the symposium, Smith declared, "There is tremendous Jewish
iconography from Europe, and this building gives our rich visual history
back to us. This is a unique project. The Vilna Center wonít
just tell it; it will live it, affirming not only the past, but also the
The Massachusetts Historical Commissionís Preservation Projects fund has honored the Vilna Center with two recent challenge grants totaling $225,000 which will seed over $450,000 in construction.
For more information on Vilna Shul see the JHR I:3-4, 27. Or contact The Vilna Center for Jewish Heritage, Inc., One Financial Center, 40th fl., Boston, MA 02111.
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