Seminar guides work on Jewish heritage sites


BRATISLAVA (JTA) — Participants in an international seminar on historic Jewish property agreed on a set of principles to guide their work preserving and managing heritage sites.

Representatives of Jewish communities in 15 countries in Eastern and Central Europe took part in the seminar on the care, conservation and maintenance of historic Jewish property, which was held last week in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava.

The seminar aimed to help Jewish communities learn to manage synagogues and other historic properties that have been restituted to Jewish ownership or were already held in communal hands.

"Proper care of these properties, often involving substantial costs, difficult planning and use issues, and demanding historical and architectural preservation concerns, have preoccupied many Jewish communities for years," a seminar statement said. "In many cases, and especially for smaller communities, the needs of these properties continue to stretch professional and financial resources."

Participants agreed on guidelines for dealing with Jewish heritage sites in general, the preparation of inventories and documentation of sites — the care of synagogues and former synagogues in particular — and the importance of cooperation and trust in carrying out objectives.

"Honesty and transparency are Jewish values and should be especially apparent in the handling of all matters concerning Jewish property, which is held as a communal trust," the guidelines said.

The seminar was organized by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the International Survey of Jewish Monuments and the Slovak Jewish Heritage Center, with support from the World Monuments Fund and the Cahnman and Rothschild foundations.

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