Jewish communities worldwide have made significant contributions to the built environment. These include not only the synagogues, cultural centers, theaters, and traditional homes of the Jewish Diaspora, but also civic buildings, infrastructure, and entire urban layouts. Unfortunately, hundreds of Jewish cultural sites are threatened by conflict, abandonment, inadequate protection, and lack of resources. In many regions, where Jewish communities have significantly decreased in number or even entirely disappeared, the built legacy is the only surviving evidence of a once prolific Jewish life. World Monuments Fund’s Jewish Heritage Program leads international efforts to showcase and preserve these historically and culturally significant places.
Since 1988, WMF's Jewish Heritage Program has supported conservation work at nearly 60 sites tied to Jewish communities in 28 countries—including the Jewish Quarter in Essaouira, Morocco, the Mád Synagogue in Hungary, the Jewish Heritage Research Project in Cape Verde, and the art deco Subotica Synagogue in Serbia.
The Jewish Heritage Program at World Monuments Fund has been made possible, in part, by support from Mrs. Joyce Z. Greenberg, The Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, Kate Ganz and Daniel N. Belin, Tianaderrah Foundation / Nellie and Robert Gipson, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Koret Foundation, and anonymous donors.
Left: A local youth in Essaouira, Morocco learns about the rich, Jewish history of the city; Right: A young man connects with the past during Watch Day at Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Egypt.
World Monuments Fund’s Jewish Heritage Program partners with local communities worldwide to develop viable preservation strategies for Jewish heritage places, record and share their stories, and provide lasting local benefits. The program employs a people-based approach to celebrate the richness of Jewish culture, showcasing the breadth and diversity of the Jewish Diaspora.
Ensuring a Future for a Rich Heritage
The Jewish Heritage Program leads international efforts to preserve places associated with Jewish communities. The program’s primary objectives are:
- To design and implement preservation projects at significant Jewish heritage places;
- To strengthen the capacity of local communities to act as stewards of these places;
- To raise public awareness of the pivotal cultural, social, and economic contributions of Jewish communities worldwide and the rich diversity of Jewish heritage to the built environment.
Recent Jewish Heritage Projects
Traditional Bukharian Houses, Uzbekistan
Great Synagogue of Iaşi, Romania
The Great Synagogue of Iaşi is the oldest extant synagogue in Romania.
Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, India
Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue is the second oldest Sephardic synagogue in Mumbai.
Subotica Synagogue, Serbia
Subotica Synagogue is among the most impressive examples of art nouveau architecture in the region.
Schola Canton, Italy
Schola Canton reflects the vibrancy of Venetian Jewish life during suppression by ruling authorities.
Jewish Quarter of Essaouira, Morocco
The crumbling Jewish Quarter of Essaouira is a symbol of the plurality of Moroccan culture.