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.
As the author of National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe, I have roamed thousands of miles around Europe's historic Jewish heartland, bringing Jewish heritage to light for on-site explorers and armchair travelers alike. On this blog I will post photographs, links and personal experiences related to Jewish heritage sites and travel, particularly in the countries of east-central Europe.
Aside from clearly marked quotations, links and pictures, all material on this blog is copyright ⓒ Ruth Ellen Gruber
I'm an American writer, photographer, and public speaker long based in Europe. I've chronicled Jewish cultural developments and other contemporary European Jewish issues for more than 20 years. My latest books are "National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe," published in 2007, and "Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere)," published in 2008.
I also am working on "Sturm, Twang and Sauerkraut Cowboys: Imaginary Wild Wests in Contemporary Europe," an exploration of the American West in the European imagination for which I won a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEH summer stipend grant.