Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue
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WMF receives two 2019 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation

Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue

This week, World Monuments Fund was recognized at the 2019 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation for two-award winning projects: the conservation of Tseto Goenpa in Bhutan, and the restoration of Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue in India. Each year, the award recognizes the efforts of private individuals and organizations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.

Tseto Goenpa in Paro, Bhutan, a fifteenth-century Buddhist monastery built atop the Himalayas, was badly damaged following an earthquake in 2011. The award-winning project included seismic reinforcement using a combination of vernacular materials and non-intrusive modern structural elements. The restoration was designed so that the monastery could continue to serve its resident monks and attract new monks to service. The project also serves as a model through which residents of the local community along with engineers and craftsmen from the region can learn seismic strengthening and conservation techniques. The project was completed in late 2017.

Tseto Goenpa during conservation work, 2016
Tseto Goenpa during conservation work, 2016

Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagoge in Mumbai, India, is the second oldest Sephardic synagogue in the city. Constructed in 1884, it was built in the classical revival style and features decorative interiors including stained glass windows and Burmese teakwood furnishings. In 2010, WMF supported the creation of a comprehensive conservation plan, and beginning in 2017, WMF undertook a restoration project addressing the structural and architectural integrity of the synagogue. Meticulous craftsmanship resulted in the revival of the site’s ornate Victorian interiors, notably the stained-glass windows, stucco work, decorative cast iron, and wall stencilling. Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue continues to be used as a synagogue and is the center of Jewish cultural and religious life in Mumbai.

The interior of Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue following conservation work, 2019
The interior of Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue following conservation work, 2019

By recognizing private efforts to restore and adapt historic properties, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards aim to encourage other property owners to undertake conservation projects within their communities.