Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wroclaw -- White Stork Synagogue

In Wroclaw, I visited the White Stork Synagogue. Renovations have been proceeding slowly.... but now the front facade as been restored, and the Aron ha Kodesh (ark) is also almost ready.

We attended a concert by the Norwegian Jewish singer Bente Kahan, who has settled in Wroclaw (thanks to her Polish husband) and in 2006 established a foundation to raise funds to restore the synagogue and also promote educational programs about Jewish heritage and culture and the Holocaust.

I spoke to Bente in her office, which is in the complex of buildings surrounding the synagogue, which also now houses the Lauder Jewish school, a hostel, a couple of cafes.

She told me that enough funding has been secured to enable the completion of the renovation of the synagogue by 2010. She's managed to do this by making her foundation a "neutral, non-profit organization" that, because of its neutrality, can navigate the sometimes treacherous waters between the municipality and the Jewish community.

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