Sunday, November 1, 2015

Synagogue Doc Continues to Raise the Roof

When the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened in Warsaw in the fall of 2014, the documentary Raise the Roof was a key part of the inaugural ceremonies. Along with the film's central artifact.

This Thursday, November 5th, the movie will once again be seen at that location as part of the 2015 Warsaw Jewish Film Festival.

The genesis of Raise the Roof, about the construction of a replica of a portion of Gwozdziec, a Polish synagogue destroyed by the Nazis, dates back to 2003 conservators conference. From a report in the Cleveland Jewish News:

A traditional carpenter who also teaches at New York University showed [MassArt professors] Rick and Laura Brown a photograph of one of the vanished wooden synagogues, asking whether they’d be interested in reproducing such an edifice full-scale. They were, and so they attended a conference where they learned about these architecturally singular constructions, which dotted shtetls around Poland and what is now Ukraine and Lithuania until the Nazis torched them.

From there, the Browns traveled that same year to Bialystok, Poland and incorporated what they found in 2004 into their coursework and the pipeline of their Norwell, Massachusetts educational non-profit Handshouse. The father-son filmmaking team of Cary and Yari Wolinski made the documentary.

There's been a lot of great press coverage of Raise the Roof in the past year. The loftiest lede belongs to Boston Globe film critic Peter Keough, who began his piece with:

The best vengeance against evildoers is to restore some of the beauty that they thought they had destroyed forever.

Raise the Roof is also screening November 3rd and 8th at the Rutgers Jewish Film Festival and will have its New York City premiere November 8th at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Q&A participants at the latter event will include artist Ariel Rosenblu and project patron Irene Pletka. A number of showings at Jewish film festivals across North America are also scheduled this month.

[Raise the Roof]

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