Sunday, May 3, 2009

Belarus: Photos of the Demolition of the Luban Synagogue

Belarus: Photos of the Demolition of the Luban Synagogue A Wake-up Call or Business as Usual?

Dovid Katz in Vilnius has forwarded photos by Alexandr Astraukh of the destruction of the Luban Synagogue. Can this be a wake-up call for better policies in Belarus and elsewhere? This was not a derelict building. It was not a ruined. It was not a forgotten site. It was sacrificed to the demands of contemporary development pressures where expediency and short term gain (to the public tax rolls or to a local politician's campaign war chest or private account) mean more than protecting history and architecture. No community in the world is immune to these pressures. Nor should every old building be saved. But there needs to be in place - in every community - procedures that allow time for review and reflection, and time for world to get out that a building is imperiled.

I call on all my readers to keep their eyes and ears open. Development deals are mostly hatched in secret and sprung quickly. Make sure the historic sites in your communities are documented and well known, so ignorance cannot be cited as an excuse for demolition and neglect. If a building is in trouble - physical or financial, or some other threat looms - let the world know.

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