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Hands-On Synagogue

None of Poland’s spectacular wooden synagogues survived the war. Now a team of experts and novices is bringing one of them back to life.

by
Tablet Magazine
September 08, 2011
Art student Emma Pearl Payne works the pit saw in Sanok, Poland.(Magda Braniewska)

Art student Emma Pearl Payne works the pit saw in Sanok, Poland.(Magda Braniewska)

This past summer, architectural preservationists, master timber framers, art students, and other volunteers gathered in Sanok, Poland, to help recreate the roof and inner cupola of the Gwozdziec Synagogue. The synagogue, which was built in the 17th and 18th centuries and destroyed during World War I, is considered one of the finest examples of wooden synagogue architecture of its time. Once the synagogue components are built, they will have to be broken down and shipped off to Warsaw, where they will be installed to form the centerpiece of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is set to open in 2013. The reconstruction project is a collaboration of Handshouse Studio and the museum, with the participation of the Timber Framers Guild.

Produced by David McGuire and Ari Daniel Shapiro. Photography by Magda Braniewska.

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