Jewish souvenirs in Trani, Italy

Jewish souvenirs in Trani, Italy


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Friday, June 26, 2009

Christian Science Monitor Article on Jewish Heritage

Check out Michael J. Jordan's article in the Christian Science Monitor about the issue of caring for Jewish hertiage in Europe. Michael sat in on some of the sessions at the March seminar on Jewish heritage in Bratislava, but the story runs as an advancer before this weekend's Holocaust Assets conference in Prague.

For architectural historian Maros Borsky, the story begins five years ago.

He was documenting the synagogues of Slovakia, which, like the rest of post-Holocaust Eastern Europe, saw its countryside depopulated of Jews, with most provincial synagogues abandoned. Slovakia itself has seen a war-time community of 137,000 shrink to some 3,000 Jews today, with only five of 100-plus synagogues functioning.

In the course of his work, Mr. Borsky came across a donor who wanted to renovate a rural synagogue. But which one?

"I realized it's important to create an audience for these synagogues, for Jews, non-Jews, locals, and tourists to learn there once was a community here – and what happened to it," he says.

The result of Borsky's work, the "Slovak Jewish Heritage Route" will soon connect 23 restored synagogues.

The Slovak project will be just one of scores discussed this weekend in Prague as representatives from 49 countries convene for the landmark Holocaust-Era Assets Conference. The agenda ranges from charting the progress made in returning Nazi-looted artwork and restituting Jewish property to caring for elderly survivors of the camps.

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