Thursday, August 25, 2011

My sister Ruth Ellen Gruber has recently been traveling in Slovakia with our friends Maros Borsky, Rabbi Andrew Goldstein and others. Read her thoughts about the trip, and check out her blog for more reports. In May, 2011, not knownig Ruth was taking this trip, I encouraged people to do the same and wrote about some of Slovakia's outstanding Jewish buildings, including the ones Ruth writes more on here.

Slovakia -- Trencin and the mixed emotions of visiting Jewish sites

Synagogue in Trencin, 1993. Monotype by Shirley Moskowitz (c) estate of Shirley Moskowitz

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

There usually comes a time when you visit sites of Jewish heritage in Eastern and Central Europe when the impact of the past -- the destruction wrought in the Holocaust -- breaks through and grabs you. I have experienced this often: I love looking at the synagogue buildings and admiring the architecture and recalling the richness of Jewish history and recognizing their importance to the cultural heritage of society at large and applauding the way that many by now have been restored for cultural use. Likewise when I thrill to the wonderful carving on Jewish gravestones and appreciate the creativity and aethestic verve that produced them. Still, I sometimes find myself unexpectedly choked up, even weeping.

I wrote about these contradictory feelings at length in the introduction to my book Jewish Heritage Travel.

And Rabbi Andrew Goldstein touched on this theme in the sermon he gave after our trip to Slovakia this month following the Slovak Jewish Heritage Route (which I posted HERE). That is why he and his wife, Sharon, held informal "services for synagogues" in a couple of the synagogues we visited -- notably the still semi-ruined one in Liptovsky Mikulas and the Status Quo synagogue in Trnava, now an art gallery.

Read the entire blogpost and see more of Ruth's pictures here.

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