In 1910, members of the immigrant Jewish Community of Burlington, Vermont paid $200 to a little-known Lithuanian painter for the purpose of painting the Chai Adam Synagogue. Little did they know that within a few decades, their synagogue mural would be one of the only ones left in the world to bear testimony to the beautiful and unique immigrant folk art of the Eastern European Jewish community. For years, this mural was lost to our Burlington community, hidden behind the wall of an apartment building.
The Lost Shul Mural depicts the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) flanked by rampant lions and surmounted by a floating crown, all bathed with the rays of the sun, and framed by architectural elements and elaborate curtains. It is a visual representation and local icon of Burlington’s immigrant and historical legacy.
The Lost Shul Mural committee is seeking the support of local residents and the business community, as well as the worldwide community to raise at least an additional $150,000 by February 2015 to complete fundraising for the actual move of the Lost Shul Mural and to begin the post-move restoration and education project. “Lost Shul Mural Movers” who donate an amount of $10,000 or more will be recognized on a marble and brass plaque located just outside of the mural’s new home. All donors will also be recognized online and listed in the educational kiosks to be located within the lobby and at the University of Vermont. Donations are welcome and are tax-deductible.
The Lost Shul Mural Educational Project will tell the multi-faceted story of the mural, in the contexts of immigrant art, the history of the artist, Burlington and Vermont’s immigrant history, and the Lost Shul Mural’s historical context.
Preservation of the mural has been endorsed by internationally renowned museum and art experts and has received local and national attention. Mark S. Hudson, Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society, states, “The Lost Shul Mural is a cultural treasure that should be preserved for the enrichment of Vermonters today and for generations to come. It shares a rich story of the immigrant experience and the religious diversity of our state.”
Mayor Miro Weinberger, City of Burlington, Vermont, issued the following testimonial: “The Lost Shul Mural is a unique icon of the American immigrant experience and a local treasure…. Promoting and celebrating the history and stories of Burlingtonians highlight the vibrancy and diversity of our City. The effort to preserve the Lost Shul Mural fosters our commitment to diversity and deserves the generous support of our community.”
PHASE I is nearing completion: Stabilization of the paint on the plaster on lath was completed in 2014. The mural must be moved to protect the stabilization and first cleaning that has been done, placing it in an environment where temperature and humidity can be controlled. To date, the project has raised over $300,000, allowing us to do the intricate work of preparing the mural to be moved to its new home, Ohavi Zedek Synagogue’s public vestibule, less than half a mile away, in May, 2015. Photos of the work are shown on the project website.
PHASE II will commence immediately following the move. The Lost Shul Mural will be installed for public viewing and be a part of a larger educational exhibit. We seek to preserve a very rare visual guide, a guide that will connect Vermonters to the depth of Vermont’s immigrant history, art and cultural diversity that created this work of art. All work is being documented and will be shared with schools, universities and museums around the world.
The project website is www.lostshulmural.org Please spread this link to support this community project! All photos, press links and testimonials are online at the project website.