The Shmooze

New Online Jewish Heritage ‘Clearinghouse’

By Michael Kaminer

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Much of the continent may have united, but Jewish heritage initiatives in Europe have remained far-flung — until now.

The just-launched Jewish Heritage Europe website will aim “to serve as an online clearinghouse for all news, information and contacts about Jewish heritage from as far east as Turkey and Russia to the UK and Portugal,” according to the CzechPosition news site. “The focus will be on built Jewish heritage, meaning synagogues, cemeteries and other architectural remnants of Jewish culture that attest to a presence on the continent stretching back to antiquity.”

A project of the Rothschild Foundation Europe, which focuses on “academic Jewish studies and Jewish heritage,” Jewish Heritage Europe is taking an under-one-roof approach to its mission. The site will work to — deep breath — “foster contacts among Jewish communities, private individuals or bodies, foundations, state and civic organizations, monuments protection authorities and other stakeholders and interested parties” around “restoration, funding, ongoing projects, best-practices, advisory services and more.”

The site chose Prague for a recent launch event partly as a salute to the city’s exemplary work managing Jewish heritage sites. “They developed a strategy very early on of what to do with the buildings they received back, how to work in partnerships with local civic initiatives, how to fundraise, and so on,” Ruth Ellen Gruber, who heads the site, told CzechPosition. “They [Czech Republic] really devised a strategy that in many other countries unfortunately hasn’t been realized,” said Gruber, an American scholar and writer based in Budapest.

Jewish Heritage Europe will cover 48 different European countries, “from the largest to territories such as Andorra and Vatican City.”


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