Raise the Roof
Raise the Roof: Viewing Rights to the Award-Winning Documentary and A Behind-the-Scenes Conversation about Reconstructing History
November 30, 7:00 pm
Guest Speakers: Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Curator Evelyn Tauben
Join us in-person or online for this inspiring program!
Sincere thanks to Joe and Marilynne Cass for their sponsorship of this program.
Program registrants will have an opportunity to view the inspiring and visually stunning film Raise the Roof (85 minutes) between November 21 and December 5.
As the festival of Chanukah brings light to the darkest days of the year, discover how a determined group of artists shed light and wonder on one of the darkest periods of Jewish and human history. Come for a behind-the-scenes conversation that illuminates the incredible story behind the documentary, Raise the Roof, which was an official selection at over 50 film festivals. Raise the Roof follows the improbable dream of Rick and Laura Brown, Massachusetts-based artists who are neither Jewish nor Polish, but who embarked on a ten-year project to reconstruct the elaborate roof and painted ceiling murals of the Gwozdziec synagogue, part of the greatest wooden architecture in history which was destroyed by the Nazis. The final Gwozdziec roof was unveiled in 2014 as the centrepiece of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, after involving over 300 students and professionals from 16 countries. Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at the POLIN Museum, will be joined in conversation by local curator and producer Evelyn Tauben, of FENTSTER window gallery, who joined the reconstruction project as part of a summer’s long journey across Poland to reconnect with her roots. Sharing clips from the film, our guests will talk about why they were drawn to this project, what it’s like to work with ghosts at your back, and how this project has influenced ongoing conversations about Poland and the Jews.
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is University Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University. She is currently Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Her books include Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage; Image before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864–1939 (with Lucjan Dobroszycki); They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust (with Mayer Kirshenblatt), The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times (with Jonathan Karp), and Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory (with Jeffrey Shandler), among others. She was honoured for lifetime achievement by the Foundation for Jewish Culture, received the Mlotek Prize for Yiddish and Yiddish Culture, honorary doctorates from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and University of Haifa, the 2015 Marshall Sklare Award for her contribution to the social scientific study of Jewry, and was decorated with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for her contribution to POLIN Museum. She was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She serves on Advisory Boards for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Council of American Jewish Museums, Jewish Museum Vienna, Jewish Museum Berlin, and the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. She also advises on museum and exhibition projects in Lithuania and Israel.
Evelyn Tauben is a Montreal-born, Toronto-based producer, curator and writer. She is a leader in the field of contemporary Jewish arts and culture, founding and curating FENTSTER – a window gallery that explores the Jewish experience through contemporary art. Over the last 20 years, she has worked at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of American History, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Koffler Centre of the Arts. She also produces theatre, concerts and cultural conversations featuring local and international luminaries, and collaborates with festivals including KlezKanada and the Ashkenaz Festival. Tauben has a MA in Art History from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. She has presented at conferences in Poland, New York, Montreal, Toronto, and England as well as to international audiences online and her writing on Jewish arts and culture has been published in the Canadian Jewish News, The Forward and the forthcoming Association of Jewish Studies “Art Issue”. Tauben was a fellow in the Toronto Arts Council’s Leader’s Lab presented together with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is devoted to catalyzing nuanced conversations through art on vital issues of our day.