Built in 1909 for a Jewish agricultural community in Argentina, the Brener Synagogue was the area's primary place of worship for more than 70 years. While the building is officially named in honor of Marcus Sterman in recognition of his donation of land for its construction, it has come to be known locally as the Brener synagogue after Samuel Brener, who oversaw its construction and decoration. The building continues to serve as the religious center of the town's social life—and is an important local symbol of the community's history and particularly its founders, the pioneers known as judios gauchos (literally, "Jewish cowboys"). The building still retains much of its original character and furnishings, including the Bema, which was designed according to an eighteenth-century style popular in Poland. The synagogue is modest in size and architectural character. A bronze lamp, however, decorated with masks representing tragedy and comedy, came from the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires—a violation of the prohibition against images in a Jewish temple, but also an example of the resourcefulness of the builders. The synagogue was declared a national historical monument in 1999. The walls of the synagogue have cracked. The façades have suffered material loss, which has been only partially replaced. The exterior of the building requires comprehensive restoration, to be undertaken once the structure has been stabilized and the problem of water infiltration has been resolved. Mural paintings in the entryway, stairwells, and mezzanine also require conservation. The current condition of the synagogue has forced the building to be closed to the public. It is hoped that listing will draw attention to this unusual and historically significant building and allow it to be reopened.
Since the Watch
After Brener Synagogue was included on the 2008 World Monuments Watch, the Province of Santa Fe provided support and funds for restoration. After a two-year campaign, Brener Synagogue was rededicated in September 2012. The structure will continue to be used for religious services, and will also serve as an educational center to promote sustainable cultural tourism in the region. In September 2014, the Bener Synagogue received an award for its successful restoration from the Sociedad Central de Arquitectos (SCA) and the Centro Internacional para la Preservación del Patrimonio(CICoP).