Jewish culture encompasses a history of migration, and wherever Jewish people have made their homes, they have built monuments to their traditions and faith. Some are breathtaking examples of architectural and artistic achievement, others are modest buildings with the simplest of adornment. Unfortunately, hundreds of synagogues and other Jewish cultural sites around the world are in danger of disappearing forever, threatened by conflict, abandonment, neglect, inappropriate reuse, public apathy, or a simple lack of resources. In many instances, these structures are the only surviving evidence of local Jewish life. WMF’s Jewish Heritage Program leads international efforts to preserve these important sites.
Ensuring a Future for a Rich Heritage
WMF’s Jewish Heritage Program leads international efforts to preserve cultural heritage sites around the world, particularly in places where local resources and fundraising capacities are limited. The program’s four major objectives are:
- To restore significant synagogues and other important Jewish heritage sites around the world
- To strengthen the capacities of local Jewish communities to act as stewards for these sites
- To raise public awareness of, and interest in, the preservation of Jewish cultural heritage sites
- To attract funding to the cause of preserving Jewish heritage
Since 1988, WMF’s Jewish Heritage Program has supported conservation work at nearly 60 diverse sites—ranging in date from the fifteenth to the early twentieth century—in 27 countries, including France, Greece, Hungary, India, Lithuania, Morocco, and Poland.
Give today and make a difference for Jewish heritage.
Your gift to WMF’s Jewish Heritage Program ensures that Jewish heritage around the globe is preserved and celebrated.
Current Project: Great Synagogue of Iaşi, Romania
Before the Holocaust, more than half the population of the Romanian city of Iaşi was Jewish, and at one time there were more than 100 Jewish places of worship. Now there are just two. The Great Synagogue of Iaşi is the oldest extant synagogue in Romania, constructed during the late seventeeth century from brick and stone, with a fresco decorated interior. Originally surrounded by a manicured garden that has been lost to modern urban development, the Great Synagogue of Iaşi includes an ornately carved Aron Kodesh, the current focus of our work.
Current Project: Subotica Synagogue, Serbia
Subotica Synagogue is a remarkable example of art nouveau ecclesiastical architecture. Its interior is as impressive as its exterior, featuring art nouveau paintings, carved and molded finishes, and Zsolnay ceramic work. Through the Jewish Heritage Program, WMF has repaired the roof and restored three of the four exterior facades. Work continues on the remaining façade.
Recent Project: Split Synagogue, Croatia
The sixteenth-century Split Synagogue is a testament to the once-thriving Jewish community in this vibrant Croatian city. In 2014 WMF restored and replaced damaged shutters, repointed the façade, and repaired water-damaged surfaces within the sanctuary. This video offers a brief history of the site and details the restoration efforts there.