Lesley Weiss was recently named Chair of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad –and her first public participation in a major Jewish heritage preservation event was at last month’s conference in Krakow on Managing Jewish Immovable Heritage. You can see her talk at the conference opening session in the video posted on this web site.
In an article by Ben Zehavi called “After the Survivors, Only the Stones Will Tell the Stories,” the Times of Israel profiles Ms Weiss and the Commission — citing some of its important but largely unsung work in Jewish heritage preservation and documentation. The Commission’s surveys in post-communist Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Slovenia and elsewhere, starting in the early 1990s, were real landmarks — in most cases the first comprehensive inventories and threat evaluations of Jewish heritage sites in those countries.
The Times of Israel story writes:
Despite the Jewish philanthropic world’s near obsession with young adults and “Jewish identity,” Weiss says there are still plenty of American Jews interested in connecting with their past.
“My mom is a Holocaust survivor, a survivor of Auschwitz who comes from the Carpathian Ukraine and there’s nothing left in her town,” she says. “There’s no synagogue and there are no Jews.”
“When this generation dies, nothing will stand in their place that can speak to us about that lost heritage except the physical sites of their former lives. If your family comes from a place and all that’s left are the remnants of a synagogue and it’s falling apart, you want it to be preserved. This is the significance of the work we do [on the commission] to preserve this precious part of the historical record.”