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Burlington, VT - 30-Year Dream Comes True In Unveiling Of "Lost Shul" Mural At Burlington Synagogue

Published on: August 4, 2015 08:25 PM
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Burlington, VT - On Sunday, a 30-year dream came true for local archivist and historian Aaron Goldberg with the official unveiling of the now-restored, one-hundred year-old “Lost Shul” mural at the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington.

VTDIGGER.org (http://bit.ly/1KONBpp) reports that in finally presenting “Lost Shul” publicly, Goldberg said the event brought to a close his vision of preserving Lithuanian-born artist Ben Zion Black’s 1910 EasternEuropean Jewish folk art “treasure,” which now stands alone as the only one in existence in both the U.S. and Lithuania.

“Four years of hard work, and decades of dreaming,” a beaming Goldberg said.

“Lost Shul’s” creator, Ben Zion Black, emigrated to Vermont from Lithuania back in 1910, allegedly in pursuit of a local actress he’d met while directing a play in his native homeland.


Once on U.S. soil and settled into Burlington’s tiny East-European Jewish community known as Little Jerusalem, Black—-a musician, poet, playwright, and commercial sign-maker—-was commissioned to paint the mural for $200 inside Chai Adam Synagogue.

However, once completed the mural drew the ire of many traditional Orthodox Chai Adam congregants, their objections being that Black’s love for music had spilled over into the mural with his depictions of angels playing musical instruments, a taboo on the Sabbath.

Despite Black’s creative gifts, he was black-listed from creating further works inside the community.

A merger of Chai Adam Synagogue with Ohavi Zedek in 1939 left the work of art behind, and for many years it served simply as a conversation piece adorning the wall of various and sundry retail shops in Burlington.

Aaron Goldberg first fell in love with the piece when he saw it on the back wall of a rug store in the 1970s.

“It was pretty surreal,” Goldberg admitted.

Keeping a keen eye on the piece, Goldberg said the time came to act when the building became destined for apartments in 1986, and that’s when he, art conservator Rick Kerschner and architect Marcel Beaudin got serious about preserving the treasure.

The trio preserved the piece by hiding it behind a false plaster wall.

With technological and financial limitations finally taking shape, Goldberg said the time was finally ripe in 2010 for the trio to extricate the mural from its original home and move it to Ohavi Zedek.

After removing a good chunk of the old building’s roof, a 50-foot crane began the tedious move of the piece after treating it with a series of restorative precautions.

Finally resting in its permanent new home inside Ohavi Zedek, conservator Connie Silver is now tasked with finalizing the mural’s restoration.

Silver says a series of forensic analyses—-including painting, cleaning, and touch-up, will be undertaken to restore the color and vibrancy to its original form.

Goldberg also said that the synagogue will need to raise additional funds to achieve his plans of constructing a feature exhibit around the history of both the piece and its artist inside Ohavi Zedek.

Online : http://lostshulmural.org 

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Read Comments (2)  —  Post Yours »


 Aug 05, 2015 at 12:08 AM Conservative temple Says:

Ohavi Zedek Synagogue is a  
Conservative Temple


 Aug 05, 2015 at 08:37 AM shimonyehuda Says:

Reply to #1  
Conservative temple Says:

Ohavi Zedek Synagogue is a  
Conservative Temple



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