Jewish Heritage Europe

Working Seminar: Managing Jewish Immovable Heritage

Opening session in the Tempel Synagogue of the Managing Jewish Immovable Heritage Conference. Photo © Krakow JCC


23rd – 25th April 2013, Krakow, Poland 

Please click the links in the sidebar for information about the Conference, which was attended by about 100 participants from about 20 countries.

We have posted video feeds of most of the sessions and will be posting the text (or power point) of some of the presentations that were given; photographs; media and other reports; as well as other material.

The three plenary sessions at the Tempel Synagogue and videos of all the parallel workshop sessions can be viewed below or via the link in the sidebar.

WHAT: A three-day, invitation-only working seminar convened to discuss a wide range of issues, challenges, strategies and successes regarding the care, maintenance, preservation, use and promotion of Jewish material heritage. It was a direct follow-up to a seminar on Jewish heritage management that took place in Bratislava, Slovakia, in March 2009 and issued the Bratislava Statement, including best practices recommendations.

WHY: The restitution of Jewish property seized by the Nazis or nationalized by post-war communist regimes has been a hot-button international issue since the Iron Curtain fell. But the slow and often painful legal battles to gain restitution have often overshadowed the pressing practical concerns of what to do with such properties, whether they are owned by Jewish communities or by others. Many of them are huge. Many are dilapidated. Many are recognized as historic sites. And most stand in towns where few if any Jews now live. Even basic care and maintenance can stretch already strapped financial and professional resources. How to preserve, manage and promote these historic Jewish properties is a key issue faced by Jewish communities, civic bodies, NGOs, governments, municipalities, grassroots activists and others.

WHO: About 100 invited participants from about 20 countries, including experts in the field as well as a variety of direct stakeholders: Jewish community representatives, grassroots activists, NGOs, civic bodies, funders, researchers, government officials, etc.

The seminar was convened by the Rothschild Foundation  (Hanadiv) Europe; the David Berg Foundation; the Cahnman Foundation, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; the World Monuments Fund; and the Taube Foundation, in cooperation with the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland; the Jewish Community Centre in Krakow; the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow; and the European Council of Jewish Communities. The U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad will also have a presence.

ISSUES: Sessions examined the issues that arose and the recommendations that emerged out of the Bratislava meeting, as expressed in the final Bratislava Statement of best practices.  They also considered new conditions that have arisen in the past four years – including new technology developments; the financial crunch and changed funding possibilities; changed local attitudes, etc. – and look toward the future.

The meeting included general discussion as well as thematic workshops, and there was a half-day trip to visit Jewish heritage solutions near Krakow: the synagogue at Dabrowa Tarnowska (restored as a museum) and the synagogue in Dzailoszyce (preserved as a ruin).

Focal points of discussion included:

—  Sharing experience/strategic thinking: Though each situation is specific, there are many shared problems and needs that can be addressed collectively. Importantly, there are also solutions that can be shared.

—  Making information available/using new digital technologies: Information on Jewish sites is most useful when it is most widely available. Efforts should continue and expand to make documentation available in publicly accessible research centers and through publications and on-line presentation, all the while considering safety, security and privacy concerns. New technology – ranging from smartphone apps to digital documentation to enhanced scanning – needs to be addressed as part of research, documentation and promotion of Jewish heritage.

—  Networking and collaboration/strategic thinking: Jewish communities and institutions should work together as much as possible to share existing information, methodologies and technologies, and to develop new and compatible goals and strategies to optimize the care and management of historic Jewish properties.  They should also seek partners among NGOs, local, civic and government bodies, and individuals outside the Jewish community. And vice versa.

—  End-user development: Jewish communities and local heritage, cultural and tourist bodies (as well as NGOs, civic bodies, individuals and others) should work together to develop regional, national and trans-border heritage routes as well as local projects.


Tuesday, April 23


Welcomes, Keynote; overview of current Jewish heritage issues; review of Bratislava statement.

  • Keynote speaker: Dr. Samuel D. Gruber, a pioneer in Jewish heritage documentation and conservation. President of the International Survey of Jewish Monuments; founding director of the former Jewish Heritage Council of the World Monuments Fund; former Research Director of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, director of Gruber Heritage Global.

Introductions of and brief remarks by:

  • Lesley Weiss — newly named Chair of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
  • Sarah Sher – recently appointed Program Associate for Jewish Heritage, World Monuments Fund

16:00-16:30   Break

 16:30-18:30 SESSION 1: Documentation And Restoration Part 1 – Main Focus on Synagogues/buildings

There were two parallel groups, meeting simultaneously.

Group 1: Physical Restoration – focus on projects: methods, models, challenges, possibilities. Successful strategies, as well as challenges and also creative possibilities. The presentations will focus primarily on specific projects.

  • Chair:  Sergey Kravtsov (Center for Jewish Art)
  • Jan Kindermann: The Czech 10 Stars project – strategizing; obtaining funding
  • Marek Adamov and Peter Szalay – Zilina, Slovakia synagogue restoration project
  • Vasyl Petryk — “Experience in research, conservation and preservation of the Jewish heritage in Belz (Ukraine)
  • Judith Kiriaty Matalon: The Izmir Project, Turkey
  • Rudolf Klein — Subotica – possibilities and challenges over a 35-year saga (with comment from the WMF’s Mark Weber)

 Group 2 — Documentation and Alternatives to Physical Restoration: Usage of new technologies and methods in researching, preserving, protecting and displaying Jewish historical sites such as: digitalization; documentation; scanning technology; databases; IPad apps, etc

  • Chair — Tomasz Kuncewicz (Auschwitz Jewish Center)
  • Peter Wirth/Agnes Benko (Hungary): Documentation – Report on six-year-long research on the architectural heritage of Jewry in the Tokaj-hegyalja region.
  • Assumpcio Hosta (Red de Juderias; Patronat Call de Girona; AEPJ): Caminos de Sefarad collaboration with Google
  • Jason Guberman-Pfeffer (Diarna): New Technology, Databases: Diarna (which has recently re-launched as an online geographic museum dedicated to Middle East and North African Jewish life).
  • Vladimir Levin (Center for Jewish Art) Digitizing Synagogue Architecture
  • Maciej Zabierowski (Auschwitz Jewish Center): The Oshpitzin project (web, book, smartphone App)

18:30-20:00 Break

 20:00-22:00 Opening Reception/dinner, with guests

WEDNESDAY APRIL 24 2013  (Focus on Restoration/Documentation)

8:00 – 15:00 DAY TRIP to Jewish heritage solutions (for synagogues) near Krakow. Dabrowa Tarnowska and Dzialoszyce.  

 Dabrowa Tarnowska: 19th century synagogue that was recently restored and opened in 2012 as a culture center, with a museum that includes a Jewish section. The synagogue is noted for its arcaded façade and its colorful frescoes. The restoration, begun in 2007, was financed by public funds and the EU. See details at

In Dzialoszyce, a small, economically troubled town, the neoclassical synagogue designed by Felicjan Frankowski and built in the mid-19th century has stood as a roofless ruin for decades. It has now been preserved as a ruin, which serves as a monument.

15:30-17:30  SESSION 2: Managing Jewish Heritage in Poland, introduction to the host country.

  • Chair: Samuel  D. Gruber
  • Monika Krawczyk, the CEO of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.
  • Piotr Kadlcik, President of the Union of Jewish Communities/Warsaw
  • Eleonora Bergman (former director of Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, expert on synagogue architecture)
  • Albert Stankowski, founder, Virtual Shtetl, a project of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews:  communication with the local activists who take care of the Jewish heritage in their regions; usage of new technologies in popularizing the knowledge about the history of Jewry in Poland; role of new Museum of History of Polish Jews).
  • Karolina and Piotr Jakowenko – Brama Cukerman Foundation, Bedzin (grassroots activists)

17:00 -17:30 Break

17:30 – 19:30 SESSION 3: Documentation and Restoration Part 2

Two parallel groups, meeting simultaneously:

Group 1: Main Focus on Cemeteries

  • Chair: Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland
  • Prof. Jonathan Webber (Jagiellonian University): “The aesthetics of restoring a Jewish cemetery”
  • Tobias Ruetenik: Cemetery documentation, the Weissensee project, Germany
  • Ruta Anulyte — Maceva project (Lithuania) Grassroots NGO, also connected with the Jewish community, dealing with preservation and cemetery clean-up.
  • Abraham Ginsberg — CPJCE Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe
  • Jasna Ciric (Jewish community Nis, Serbia) – Nis Jewish cemetery – new challenges, even after apparent success


Group 2: National and Regional Strategies

  • Chair: Mariano Schlimovich, European Council of Jewish Communities
  • Josef Zissels (Ukraine)
  • Galina Levina Belarus: the state of Jewish heritage activity and possibilities; status of Jewish Heritage Research Group; strategic issues (like Bykhov synagogue)
  • Renzo Funaro, Florence – work of the Italian Jewish Foundation for Heritage
  • Janez Premk – Presentation of the project: Tracing Jewish Heritage in Slovenia.
  • Hetty Berg: Jewish historical museum, Amsterdam. “Amsterdam: Within the walls of Jewish Heritage sites and beyond the walls”

20:00 – 21:30 Dinner at JCC


THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2013 (Focus on Development, Funding, the Future)

9:00-11:00 SESSION 4: Focus on Development

There will be two parallel groups, meeting simultaneously. Each will feature a panel of participants who will give brief (15 minutes) presentations, followed by questions from the floor and discussion.  There will possibly be a 15-minute break after the first hour, enabling people to go back and forth.

Group 1: Communities:  the role Jewish physical heritage and heritage sites play vis-a-vis present Jewish communities and communal development. Discussion of successful projects, different interpretations and opportunities for the communities: memory, education, identity-building, income, etc.

  • Chair – Herbert Block, JDC
  • Marina Lecarteva/Aleksandr Bilinkis — Moldova – Tirilson Yeshiva project – big plans to restore this huge ruin as Jewish cultural center
  • Maros Borsky: Developing the Community Jewish Museum in Bratislava
  • Ana Lebl/Goran Niksic: Using Built Heritage to Revitalize the Jewish Comunity in Split, Croatia
  • Lucia Apostol – successes and challenges in Romania
  • Monika Elliot – 7@Nite project (Krakow), JDC project in cooperation with local partner the Krakow JCC — Using Jewish Heritage to Boost both local Jewish identity and outsider interest

 Group 2: General society: Role, use and promotion of Jewish Heritage sites for the general public; forging partners; educational programs; tourism; balancing local priorities and resources with demands and desires of non-locals (religious pilgrims, landsmanschafts, genealogists, etc

  • ChairSharman Kadish
  • Marla Raucher Osborn: Impact of Jewish Genealogists
  • Cologne Jewish quarter excavations
  • Marcus Roberts  (UK)– J-trails
  • Ilya Lensky (Latvia) – Developments with the restoration of the synagogue building in Kuldiga and the Green synagogue in Rezekne
  • Annie Sacerdoti: Whither the European Day of Jewish Culture

 11:00 -11:30 Break

11:30-13:30 SESSION 5: Going forward and discussion on issues for the future; strategizing, information exchange; developing and using Jewish Heritage Europe;  feasibility of creating an “ask the experts” Jewish Heritage Task Force. Going on from the Bratislava Statement. The brief presentations are aimed at introducing discussion.

  • Chair: Ruth Ellen Gruber
  • Sergey Kravtsov — Developments in western Ukraine
  • Jaroslav Klenovsky — Jewish Brno and the Tourist Information Center project
  • Meilach Bindinger (Lo-Tishkach) — a number of ideas concerning enhanced collaboration between institutions and the use of new digital technologies. (Maybe in cemetery session)
  • Ivan Ceresnjes (Center for Jewish Art): Collection, research and identification of Jewish historical, cultural and  religious heritage as a basis for proposing system’s protection.

13:45-15:30 SESSION 6 –  DURING LUNCH AT JCC: Funding and Fund-raising. 

During lunch — Presentations by representatives of several funders/foundations (including sponsors of the conference); what they look for, what they fund. Questions can be raised about fund-raising strategies.

  • Speakers included: Sarah Sher, WMF ; Michele Tocci (David Berg Foundation); Ira Jolles (Cahnman Foundation); Sally Berkovic (Rothschild Foundation [Hanadiv] Europe)

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