Crowd-funding for Jewish heritage projects

Projection of how site in front of Golden Rose ruins will look

Projection of how Space of Synagogues site in front of Golden Rose synagogue ruins will look

Crowd-funding is increasing used to finance a wide range of projects and initiatives — and Jewish heritage work is no exception.

Two major Jewish heritage projects have recently launched crowd-funding efforts.


Space of Synagogues memorial project, L’viv, Ukraine

The project “The Space of Synagogues: Jewish History, Common Heritage and Responsibility” in Lviv (Ukraine) aims to transform the sites of the Golden Rose Synagogue, the Beth Hamidrash and the Great City Synagogue destroyed in the Holocaust into a memorial space. The project will show the long and rich history of Jews in Lviv, honor the memory of Holocaust victims, and promote tolerance in society today. The historical Jewish Quarter has remained woefully neglected and unmarked for decades.

As of today, through the joint efforts of the Lviv City Council and the German Organization for International Cooperation (GIZ), funded by the German government, 127,860 EUR ($141,000) has been secured for the project. 67,580 EUR ($74,550) is still needed to complete work on the Beth Hamidrash and to begin the Perpetuation Memorial installation.      


Restoration of the Jewish cemetery in Bialystok, Poland

Funds are asked to help renovate the Wschodnia Jewish Cemetery, one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Poland.  This cemetery was established in approximately 1890. It once covered nearly 40 acres and was divided into 100 sections, with nearly 30,000-35,000 Jews from Bialystok and surrounding smaller towns buried there. Today, the cemetery has been reduced to about 30 acres. Approximately 3000 matzevoth (tombstones) remain, in various states of disarray.

We would like to uncover and reinstall 500 tombstones in one week.  There has been an ongoing effort for years to bring this cemetery back to its original condition but we believe that we can make significant progress in one week with the right equipment and properly trained workers.  Josh Degen has over 30 years of experience doing machine operating and stone mason work.  We will have 3 other trained workers who will dedicate their time to help set the stones and apply special adhesive to put the broken stones back together.  We will wash the matzevoth and paint the wording on them.  We will also be working with volunteers from  Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste.  This German organization “raises awareness of the present-day consequences of this history of violence and counter current forms of anti-Semitism, racism and exclusion of minorities.”  They have come to Bialystok each summer to help restore the cemetery and we will coordinate our efforts to maximize the number of people working together at the same time.


General view of Bialystok Bagnówka cemeterty. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

General view of Bialystok Bagnówka cemeterty. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber




7 thoughts on “Crowd-funding for Jewish heritage projects

  1. While I applaud efforts to recover and restore gravestones in Bialystok and elsewhere I am very doubtful the cleaning and re-erecting 500 gravestones in a week is possible – let alone wise. It isn’t clear who has authorized this work and who will oversee it. Has the Jewish Community given permission? Have conservators been engaged? Or is this a well-intentioned but “wildcat” effort?

    Setting stones in the right place and correctly, as well as conserving and cleaning stones is a precise art – and done incorrectly can cause more damage than good. I hope that organizers in Bialystok have a good trained conservation team on hand – not just heavy equipment and stone masons. Still, if even 100 stones are correctly re-erected that will be a big accomplishment. Certainly when it is just a case of stones toppled from the bases and bases remain intact that kind of work can be done in this manner, but when new footings have to be created and it is not clear where the actual grave is, things get difficult …and time consuming.

  2. At the risk of sounding critical, rather than raising funds for the purchase of shovels and tools and also the travel expenses to fly the Americans on-site to Bialystok, Poland, wouldn’t the money be better spent on using locals who already have the tools? That also has the added important benefit of integrating and involving the local non-Jewish population. My two cents….

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