The question whether old and dilapidated synagogues, which are no longer in use should be restored and maintained, is in our view a rhetorical one. For us Jews whose life-line to things Jewish is Jewish history, the answer is obvious. The question however remains whose responsibility it is to bear the cost. Should it be an individual whose ancestors came from the specific area or used that particular synagogue; should a Western community adopt a restoration as their memorial to those who perished leaving us with the obligation to remember, or should it be the responsibility of the State where the synagogues are found?
As a result of the Holocaust and migration to Israel most Jews of Transylvania are no longer there, but the synagogues, often gems of architecture and of extreme interior beauty, are now in a state of disrepair and decay.
The Mihai Eminescu Trust is combating the late Ceausescu's plan to bulldoze Romania's rural architecture by rescuing crumbling buildings of significance, employing local labour and teaching long-forgotten traditional building techniques.
One of those projects is the restoration of the Medias synagogue which will become a national heritage educational centre to teach visitors, including school children, the Jewish history in Transylvania. Spiro Ark together with Mihai Eminescu are holding a fascinating event in which Jews of any background will no doubt be fascinated. The programme will include:
- an illustrated talk by Jessica Douglas-Home on 'The Last Jew of Sighisoara and Transylvanian Synagogues'
- talk by Petru Clej on 'Attitudes Towards the Holocaust -- from Frank Admission to Ugly Denial'.
The programme will take place at Spiro Ark Centre on Wednesday 3rd February 2010, 6.30 for 7.00pm. Please book in advance.
The Spiro Ark, 788-790 Finchley Road
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