Independent American photographer
and film maker Zvi Rosenfeld has recently screened his new short documentary
“Sanctuary” at the 1998 Annual South Bronx Film and Video Festival in New
York. The 21-minute film, is a poetic journey through the sacred
landscape of Jewish settlement in Central Europe. Rosenfeld’s camera
takes the viewer on a trip from Prague to Terezin – with evocative footage
of abandoned synagogues in several towns. The quietness of the film,
the delicate appropriateness of the musical score, and the effective insertion
of translations of many of the Hebrew inscriptions viewed, establish a
poignant contrast between the past and present, and serve to create a heightened
sense of loss. The film concludes with extensive footage of the recently
discovered prayer-house at Terezin, described as the “waiting room of Auschwitz”
by the curator of the Terezin Museum, the only person to speak in the film.
The prayer house was designed and painted by Jewish inmates at Terezin.
Scriptural verses are entreaties to God – they express hope, expectations
and anguish, and offer a counterpoint to the known fate of the congregants.
There were no known survivors of the prayer house, and it is assumed that
its creators all perished at Auschwitz.
Rosenfeld is now seeking funds for a longer version of “Sanctuary” to include additional footage. For information on screening “Sanctuary” contact Zvi Rosenfeld at (212) 769-1944/ e-mail: Axo200@aol.com.
Synagogue at Terezin, Czech Republic. Photo: Zvi Rosenfeld
The remnants of a secret prayer room were recently uncovered in a small ground floor storage room in Terezin. Almost everything about this tiny ‘shul’ is a mystery. From floor to ceiling, the walls appear to have once been covered with decorative paintings, scripture and original prayers. One prayer that remains begs God to return from his anger; another, “If I forget thee O Jerusalem,” a blood oath of remembrance, has faded, leaving only, “If I forget thee…”
International Survey of Jewish Monuments
c/o Jewish Heritage Research Center
Box 210, 118 Julian Pl.
Syracuse, New York 13210-3419, USA
tel: (315) 474-2350
fax: (315) 474-2347