Polish Synagogue Restoration Project (Simulation-Memory)

polish synagogue ceiling

Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett has been working for sometime with the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw, Poland. One of the projects there is the restoration of wooden synagogue at Gwozdziec, which was destroyed by the Nazis (?). It’s an amazing project. Here’s some information that Barbara has linked me to:

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in collaboration with Handshouse Studio, is rebuilding components of an exquisite 17th-century wooden synagogue. This historic structure will be set within the stunning architectural space of the modern building being planned. The Museum is under construction on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto facing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising monument, and is scheduled to open in 2013.


Volunteers paint details of a reconstructed 18th century synagogue roof in Warsaw, Poland. The roof is a reconstruction of a wooden synagogue that once stood in the town of Gwozdziec and which will be a key exhibit in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is due to open in 2014. The original synagogue was destroyed during World War II. Photograph: Czarek Sokolowski/AP

You can like the FB page of Gwozdziec synagogue project at http://www.facebook.com/gwozdziec

There’s this great blog about it: http://mcnorlander.wordpress.com/

Once upon a time, I might have felt more ambivalence about this kind of project. Now I think I better understand that a memory place like this cannot replace the past. It is what it is. What strikes me about this project as a work of memory is the brightness of light and color, and the myriad detail that make this such a painstakingly beautiful art of simulation.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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