The World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced Thursday (Feb. 27) the receipt of an award of $220,000 from the David Berg Foundation of New York for five projects at Jewish heritage sites in Europe and Africa: the Schola Canton in Venice, Italy; the Great Synagogue of Iaşi, Romania; the Synagogue in Split, Croatia; the Synagogue in Subotica, Serbia; and a survey and interpretation project at Jewish sites on Cape Verde.
This grant is part of WMF’s Jewish Heritage Program, which since 1988 has worked to preserve more than 50 Jewish cultural sites around the world. JHE is pleased that attention was drawn to the condition of three of these synagogues — Iaşi, Subotica and Split — at presentations featured at the working seminar on managing Jewish immoveable heritage that took place last April in Krakow.
Here is the WMF’s description of the sites:
Schola Canton, Venice, Italy
The Schola Canton was constructed in 1532, shortly after the enforced segregation of Jews in the Venetian Ghetto Nuovo, widely considered the first Jewish ghetto in Europe. This structure has hosted millions of visitors and is now in need of repairs to ensure its continuing role in Jewish heritage tourism and education. WMF’s project at this site will include cleaning, repairing, consolidating, and re-gilding Schola Canton’s intricately carved wooden sanctuary. Work is expected to begin in March 2014.
Great Synagogue of Iaşi, Romania
The Great Synagogue of Iaşi, the oldest synagogue in Romania, was listed on the 2014 World Monuments Watch. Conservation work being undertaken on the building by Romania’s Ministry of Culture and Patrimony was halted in 2008, leaving the structure in a precarious state. Since the inclusion of this site on the Watch, work has been re-started by the ministry and the government has committed nearly $200,000 to the project. Over the course of the next two years, WMF will advocate for the protection of this site and assist with conservation needs.
Synagogue in Split, Croatia
The Split Synagogue was constructed in the early sixteenth century and is one of the oldest surviving Sephardic synagogues in Europe. WMF’s involvement in this project will be to repair damage caused by water infiltration and to stop moisture from entering the sanctuary in order to prevent further deterioration. Work is expected to begin in March 2014.
Subotica Synagogue Exhibit & Web Feature
After years of limited access, the Synagogue in Subotica, Serbia is now open to the public following more than a decade of preservation work supported by WMF, and has become a tourism destination. In recent years, a modest exhibit on the history of the synagogue was installed in the sanctuary. To aid the community and visitors in learning more about the history of Subotica’s synagogue and the local Jewish population, WMF will expand this exhibition and create a companion video and web presentation. This will enhance the interpretation of the synagogue and be a contributing educational tool for the residents of Subotica.
Cape Verde Jewish History Interpretive Resources
Cape Verde had a prominent community of Jews in the nineteenth century that came to this group of islands off the coast of Senegal from Morocco and Gibraltar in search of economic opportunity. The majority of these Jews were men, many of whom played important roles in Cape Verde’s economy and administration and ended up marrying local Catholic women and assimilating into Cape Verdean culture. WMF will partner with the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Project to help research, interpret, and promote this unique Jewish history.