"Synagogues and Jewish Cemeteries in Eastern Europe: Past, Present and Future," an illustrated lecture at Fairfield University

S GruberDuring the 20th century, the Nazis and Communists destroyed Jewish synagogues, historic sites and cemeteries throughout Central and Eastern Europe. In an illustrated lecture on Tuesday, March 29, scholar Samuel D. Gruber, Ph.D., will speak at Fairfield University about leading efforts to recover these remnants of Jewish heritage. Presented by the university's Program in Judaic Studies, the event - free and open to the public - will take place in Dolan School of Business Dining Room at 7:30 p.m.

In the talk, "Synagogues and Jewish Cemeteries in Eastern Europe: Past, Present and Future," Gruber will look at the types of Jewish sites that were lost and those that remain, and review major efforts across Europe by government and private agencies, institutions and organizations to document, protect, conserve and maintain them. Among the most vital of these sites are synagogues and other religious buildings and cemeteries.

"The lecture will explore the range of project types and the underlying rationale for undertaking these works, with their special relevance for Jewish genealogy, Jewish travel, Holocaust commemoration, and continued Jewish communal and religious life," said Gruber, the founder and managing director of Gruber Heritage Global (GHG), a Syracuse, N.Y.-based cultural resources consulting firm.

Gruber's fascinating work to resurrect history dates back to the 1980s. In the past twenty years, a "new history of Jewish culture" has been imagined and sometimes written about, he explained. While built on the remnants of a great culture devastated by the Holocaust, this effort looks back to the physical ruins that survived the destruction of the Nazis and the neglect of the Communists. Ultimately, it looks forward to recovery and even revival of these sites and some of the communities they once served.

Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, Ph.D., associate professor of history, said the event will enable participants to glimpse important locations of Jewish history that most have never been able to see. "The Nazis did not only try to exterminate the Jews as a people, they tried to expunge the physical evidence of their culture as well." 

Gruber is the Rothman Visiting Lecturer in Judaic Studies at Syracuse University where he teaches courses on The Art & Architecture of the Synagogue; Art & Memory in Jewish Tradition; and Jewish Space: Architecture in a Jewish Context. His company, Gruber Heritage Global, includes the Jewish Heritage Research Center (JHRC), which Gruber has directed since 1995, and also serves the not-for-profit International Survey of Jewish Monuments (ISJM). Gruber Heritage Global serves as consultant and advisor to numerous organizations, institutions, private foundations, government agencies and individuals. He served for a decade as research director of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, for which he planned and supervised more than a dozen major countrywide cultural heritage surveys. As founding director of the Jewish Heritage Council of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), and subsequently as consultant to WMF, Gruber planned and oversaw historic preservation projects in over a dozen countries, including major documentation, planning and restoration projects.

For more information about this event, call Dr. Rosenfeld at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3198. To learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences' Program in Judaic Studies, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/cas/js_index.html.

Seating is limited. For reservations call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 11, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 234

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