Thanks to a grant from the World Monuments Fund, emergency work is under way to save the ornate, polychrome wooden Ark in the 17th century synagogue in Iaşi, Romania. As we reported last year, the Ark and surrounding decorative frame were seriously threatened by water damage, insects and fungi.
In a statement, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania (FEDROM) said work began in May and should be completed by the end of October, supported by a $70,000 grant from the WMF. FEDROM, it said, contributed a further $10,000 for “preliminary studies, projects and expertise”.
The sculpted and painted wooded element that includes the decorated Holy Ark and the wall cover around it is an exquisite original art piece dating from 1864, which was in danger of total deterioration, due mainly to water infiltration, and to biological attack of insects and fungi, during the years of neglect while the conservation works on the synagogue were halted.
However, it stressed, the current work only represents an emergency intervention to stabilize and salvage the Ark.
Unfortunately FEDROM does not have the funds to continue the project of the restoration of the Aron ha Kodesh beyond the emergency intervention, but is making sustained and proactive efforts to find additional financial aid for that purpose.
In June, we reported that significant progress has been made in the structural restoration of the building, which dates from 1642 and is the oldest surviving synagogue in Romania, was placed on the World Monuments Fund 2014 watch list, and in February 2014 received a grant toward restoration from the David Berg Foundation, through the WMF.