Raise the Roof

“How often do you get a chance to reach deep into history and bring something back?” asks Rick Brown, a professor whose work encompasses both art and archaeology. For Brown, connecting with the past is a physical gesture that requires time and teamwork. In the early 2000s, Brown and his wife were captivated by a series of now vanished but once resplendent synagogues whose painted interiors captured the pulse and color of Jewish life in 18th-century Poland. Each of these synagogues was ultimately destroyed by the Nazis; they are preserved only in photographs. Determined to restore the splendor of these wooden structures, the husband-and-wife team recruited a group of 300 artists and students from around the world (many of whom are not Jewish) to reconstruct a life-sized model of one such synagogue. Raise the Roof chronicles this collective undertaking. To faithfully reproduce each Hebrew letter and stylized animal, the artisans learned how the synagogue’s art and architecture reflected the cultural and political contexts in which the building was constructed like the Torah itself. Today, the reconstructed version stands in Warsaw, as part of the permanent collection of a museum dedicated to Poland’s Jewish heritage. This inspiring film tracks the labor and love that illuminate a glorious piece of that history.
w/English Subtitle
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