WHAT IS “JEWISH HERITAGE EUROPE”?

Jewish Heritage Europe is an expanding web portal to a wide range of news, information and resources concerning Jewish monuments and heritage sites all over Europe. It is a project of the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe (RFHE) and builds on and expands a previous version of the site. JHE thanks and gratefully acknowledges the people who worked so hard on the original site, in particular Dr. Sharman Kadish, Dr. Syd Greenberg, Dr. Samuel D. Gruber and Jon Cannon.

The current coordinator of JHE is Ruth Ellen Gruber.

JHE aims to aggregate information, shed light on Jewish heritage issues, and stimulate discussion and exchanges among professionals and the interested public.

The original JHE was launched after a major conference on the Future of Jewish Heritage, held in Prague in 2004. The current version was conceived as a follow-up to an important seminar held in Bratislava, Slovakia in March 2009 that discussed the state of Jewish heritage sites in Europe as well as strategies for their restoration, use and upkeep. That seminar, attended by international Jewish heritage experts as well as by representatives from Jewish communities in more than a dozen countries, resulted in a statement of specific “Best Practices” about how to deal with Jewish heritage sites.

The statement made clear that:

The ongoing struggle for property and resource restitution has often overshadowed the practical issues of how to manage community properties already held, or those returned.

Proper care of these properties; often involving substantial costs, difficult planning and use issues, and demanding historical and architectural preservation concerns, have preoccupied many Jewish communities for years. In many cases, and especially for smaller Communities, the needs of these properties continue to stretch professional and financial resources. Everyday community needs often delay or prevent the attention that properties require.

Each Jewish community faces its own specific situations, and has unique needs, but there are many shared problems and needs that can be addressed collectively. Importantly, there are also solutions – many of which have been pioneered by Communities themselves – that can be shared, too.

(The full text of the Bratislava Statement, with the list of best practices, can be found in the “Resources” section of this web site.)