Thursday, June 16, 2011

Poland -- Sanok. Gwozdziec synagogue project

Laura Brown, co-director of Handshouse Studio, with replica of Gwozdziec synagogue. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Earlier this month I spent several days in Sanok, in the far southeastern corner of Poland, visiting the site of the Gwozdziec synagogue project -- the construction of a replica of the roof and decorated inner cupola of the destroyed wooden synagogue of Gwozdziec (now in Ukraine) -- one of about 200 wooden synagogues torched by the Nazis in World War II

The article I wrote about it for the International Herald Tribune/New York Time online  is now readable  -- click HERE to read the full story

In the far southeast corner of Poland, the warm summer air is resounding with the rasp of old-fashioned iron saws and the satisfying twack-twack-twack of ax blades on wood.

Here, in the foothills of the Carpathians, an international crew of master timber craftsmen and students has been working on an intensely hands-on project that combines history, art and education. They are building a replica of the tall peaked roof and inner cupola of an ornate wooden synagogue that stood for 300 years in the town of Gwozdziec, now in Ukraine.

The replica, which will be 85 percent of the original size of the building, will be installed as one of the key components of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, currently under construction in Warsaw and scheduled to open in 2013.
The article gives pretty much of an overview of the project, run by the Massachusetts-based Handshouse Studio -- and if you want detailed descriptions of the process, Edward Levin, of the Timber Framers Guild, has been keeping a wonderful blog about it all, with lots of pictures and theoretical musings. Click HERE to read it.

My discussions in Sanok opened a new world to me -- that of Timber Framing and master carpentry; people involved who find spirituality in working with wood. Fascinating discussions.

Here are some of my own pictures of the project, which is being carried out on the grounds of the Sanok open-air folk architecture museum.

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