Historian Simon Schama joined TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky at the launch in Parliament of a project to map and preserve the historic synagogues of Europe.
They are among dozens of names from the worlds of politics, heritage, the arts and religion to add their support to the initiative which aims to bring the current state of these historic synagogues to a wider audience.
Commissioned by the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, the mapping project inventories 3,318 synagogues, mostly pre-dating World War Two, in 48 countries all across Europe.
The buildings have been catalogued based on their artistic, urban and historical significance and their condition rated – the aim being to focus preservation efforts on the most important sites at risk.
Of the 3,318 synagogues identified, the findings have highlighted 160 which the Foundation believes urgently need attention if they are to be safe-guarded for future generations, so this rich cultural history is not lost for ever.
Michael Mail, founder and Chief Executive of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, said: “While other religious buildings have suffered during the 20th Century, with many of these synagogues it was the catastrophic loss of their communities of users during the war which makes the challenge of preserving Jewish cultural heritage so much harder.
“We commissioned the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to carry out this extensive research so that we could address this challenge from a comprehensive and strategic perspective.”
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