6 2023

Preserving Lost Worlds

7:00PM - 9:30PM  

Holy Blossom Temple
Register here to attend: Holy Blossom Temple
1950 Bathurst Street
Toronto, ON M5P 3K9

Contact Sharoni Sibony

with Manuel Herz

The Schwartz/Reisman Centre for Adult Jewish Learning, the Koffler Centre for the Arts, and Elevation Pictures present a special commemorative double bill featuring Swiss architect, Manuel Herz, lead architect of the new synagogue at Babyn Yar, and a screening of the documentary film, Three Minutes: A Lengthening.

On September 19, 1941, Babyn Yar — a ravine area outside of Kyiv, Ukraine — was the site of the first and worst single-day massacre of Jews during the Holocaust, a “genocide by bullets”. Eighty years later, after years of Soviet suppression of this story, a synagogue has been erected by Swiss architect Manuel Herz on the same site, to memorialize the history and horror of the place and to create a sanctuary of hope for humankind.

Before 1939, Europe boasted 17,000 synagogues, most built of wood because laws in several countries restricted the Jewish community from building with stone or masonry. By the end of World War II, only 3,300 synagogues remained. Wooden synagogues were mostly destroyed as a result of antisemitic activity, fire, or natural decay; however, thankfully, architectural plans and photographs were safeguarded. To preserve this lost tradition of wooden synagogues, and because wood requires a degree of care and maintenance more so than other building materials, award-winning Basel-based architect Manuel Herz was determined to build the Synagogue at Babyn Yar of wood. During this richly illustrated talk, learn more about how the centuries-old tradition of wooden synagogues in Eastern Europe influenced Herz’s design.

Following Herz’s talk, we’ll have a rare opportunity to view the film, Three Minutes: A Lengthening, which recovers the stories of the vibrant Jewish community of Nasielsk, Poland, from a short piece of amateur silent footage taken by David Katz in 1938, found years later among his effects in Florida. Filmmaker Bianca Stigter expands these three minutes of film into a feature-length documentary, transforming a community lost to Treblinka into a shimmering testament to their memory. Holy Blossom member, Laurie May, of Elevation Pictures, will introduce the film.

Please note that only Manuel Herz’s illustrated lecture will be accessible both in-person and virtually, while the film screening of Three Minutes: A Documentary will be on view in the synagogue only.

Based in Basel, Switzerland, Manuel Herz’s practice is embedded in research, covering a wide range of typologies, locations and scales. Completed works include a housing project in Zürich described in the New York Times as “A Building that Dances”, a large hospital in Tambacounda in eastern Senegal, the Synagogue of Mainz and the Synagogue for the Babyn Yar memorial site in Kyiv, Ukraine, among many other acclaimed projects across Europe, Asia and Africa. Manuel Herz has also been active in furniture and exhibition design, and in urban master planning and research. He has taught at leading architectural schools including the University of Basel where he was co-founder of the Institute of Urban Studies, Switzerland’s first interdisciplinary institute for urban research. His research focuses on the architecture and urbanism of migration.

His book “From Camp to City: Refugee Camps of the Western Sahara” shows how refugee camps can be places of social emancipation. His award-winning book “African Modernism – Architecture of Independence” presents the architecture of Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Zambia, and the parallel exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum has been shown at museums and cultural institutions in Europe, the US, and across Africa.

His work has won numerous international awards, been exhibited in museums worldwide, and acquired by such collections as New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). For the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennial, he created the National Pavilion of Western Sahara, and his office has now been invited to design the Swiss Pavilion for the World-Expo 2025 in Osaka.

Sponsor: Schwartz/Reisman Centre for Adult Jewish Learning at Holy Blossom Temple, Koffler Centre for the Arts, and Elevation Pictures

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