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Students, craftsmen and artists working together to rebuild the Gwozdziec Synagogue destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.
Students, craftsmen and artists working together to rebuild the Gwozdziec Synagogue destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.
441 backers pledged $56,691 to help bring this project to life.

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RAISE THE ROOF GETS A SPECIAL SCREENING IN WARSAW

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SPECIAL SCREENING IN WARSAW

ATLANTA JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 2015

YOUR COPY OF THE DVD

October 26, 2014: After an all night flight, we landed at the Chopin Airport in Warsaw and headed down to the baggage claim. 

POLIN Museum banner at the baggage claim at Chopin Airport in Warsaw. Photo by Cary Wolinsky.
POLIN Museum banner at the baggage claim at Chopin Airport in Warsaw. Photo by Cary Wolinsky.

There, on a huge backlit billboard was a photograph of the Gwoździec synagogue’s bimah and ceiling. It was an announcement for the Grand Opening of the Core Exhibition of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. We got in a taxi and headed into town and the same poster appeared again and again all over the city of Warsaw. The Gwoździec synagogue roof and ceiling had clearly become the star attraction of the new museum and an iconic symbol of the city of Warsaw.

October 28, 2014: A sunny autumn day. There was outdoor seating for the huge crowd at the Grand Opening of the POLIN Museum. It was a spectacular event. The presidents of Poland and Israel spoke. Program Director, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Executive Director Robert Supeł were finally able to breath a sigh of relief and enjoy the breathtaking results of their years of hard work and undying belief in the new Museum.

A museum goer passes through the "Encounters with Modernity" gallery which focuses on the years between 1772 and 1914.  Photo by Rachael Cerrotti.
A museum goer passes through the "Encounters with Modernity" gallery which focuses on the years between 1772 and 1914. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti.
School groups were among the first visitors to experience the core exhibit of the museum. The eight interactive galleries, and the focus on life, rather than death, offers a kid friendly environment. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti.
School groups were among the first visitors to experience the core exhibit of the museum. The eight interactive galleries, and the focus on life, rather than death, offers a kid friendly environment. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti.

October 29, 2014: On this day the Museum’s Core Exhibition was opened to the public. As part of the opening events, our film, Raise the Roof, was shown at a special screening. Our US and Polish crews and volunteers were there at 10:30 helping set up the reception and getting the special projector and the 500 seat auditorium ready for the screening. At 3:00 pm the auditorium doors opened and the audience began to arrive. This would be the first and possibly the only time so many of the people who were directly involved in the reconstruction of the Gwoździec synagogue roof and ceiling and people who made the film Raise the Roof would gather in the same room.

Many of the students, timber framers, and painting leaders were there for the screening as were Handshouse Studio’s Rick and Laura Brown, Core Exhibition Director Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, historians Antony Polonsky and Thomas Hubka, and Irene Pletka whose generous donations made the Gwoździec reconstruction possible.

Dariusz Stola, the Director of POLIN Museum introduced the film. The lights went down. The screening began and the remarkable story of the Gwoździec synagogue unfolded before our eyes. Even for those of us who had worked on the film every day for many months, it was a magic moment. We wished only that all of our donors could have been there.

Rick, Laura, Cary, Yari and John answer questions after the film screening. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti
Rick, Laura, Cary, Yari and John answer questions after the film screening. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti

After the screening we were pleased to have the opportunity to honor architect and historian Maria Piechotka. She and her husband Kazimierz scoured many archives after the war and wrote the first and most definitive histories of the Polish wooden synagogues.

John, Wiktoria, Laura, Rick, Babs, Amber and Yari celebrating with hot cocoa at E. Wedel in Krakow. Photo by Cary Wolinsky.
John, Wiktoria, Laura, Rick, Babs, Amber and Yari celebrating with hot cocoa at E. Wedel in Krakow. Photo by Cary Wolinsky.

ATLANTA JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 2015

Within a few days of the Warsaw screening we received word that Raise the Roof had been selected for screening at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in January and February, 2015. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is one of the largest Jewish film festivals in the world, attracting an audience of more than 31,000 filmgoers.

YOUR COPY OF THE FILM

The special Kickstarter Donor’s copy of the film is now in production and will ship to you in December if your donation was $50 or more. When we began this project we planned to make a 10 to 20 minute documentary of about the Gwoździec synagogue reconstruction. The story grew and grew. More donors came forward and the film is now a feature length documentary. Thank you for helping make this possible! 

More information about purchasing commercial copies of the DVD will be available soon. Please visit PolishSynagogue.com. 

FACEBOOK!

We’ve launched a Raise the Roof Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/raisetheroofmovie

Please Like us on Facebook to get updates on where and when the film will be screening in the near future.

Cary, Yari and Babs Wolinsky

Rick and Laura Brown

John Rubin

You are invited!

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Our film, Raise the Roof, is now a feature length documentary and will be screened as part of the Grand Opening program of the Core Exhibition of the Museum for the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland. 

All of our Kickstarter donors are invited to the screening! If you plan to be in Poland, please join us. Raise the Roof will be shown in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw on October 29th at 3:00pm. There will be a private reception in the Museum starting at 2:00pm. Meet the filmmakers and the artists who built the roof!

If you would like to attend the film and reception, please RSVP here. Be sure to fill in all the information. Your name and your guests must be on our list to attend the private reception and reserve seats at the screening. 

We will be sending Raise the Roof DVDs to our donors of $50 and more after the screening in Poland. 

Thank you for helping to make this film possible!

Cary, Yari and Babs Wolinsky 
Rick and Laura Brown
John Rubin 

Hello Kickstarter friends!

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We are in the second round of editing Raise the Roof, our film about the reconstruction of the eighteenth century Gwoździec Synagogue in Poland. With the help of your donations, we now have a feature length documentary including interviews with noted scholars, animations illustrating the remodeling of the 1731 synagogue, wonderful historical materials and, of course, footage of Rick and Laura Brown, the Handshouse team and the Timber Frame Guild craftsmen as they build and paint the roof and ceiling and install it in the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

So What’s New?

In early March 2014, we returned to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews with Rick and Laura Brown to film a team placing finish touches on the ceiling mural and installing the bimah. In June we filmed new interviews with the Browns at Handshouse Studio to refine parts of the narration where we needed transitions. In July we hope to travel to Warsaw again to get additional footage before the Gwoździec exhibition opens to the public.

The Bimah is Installed!
The Bimah is Installed!

Later this month we will begin showing rough cuts of the film to small groups to get reactions and begin the tweaking that will be needed before we can finish the final cut. We will continue scheduling rough cut reviews throughout the summer. If you are in the Boston area and would like to sign up to be a rough cut reviewer, please watch for updates in the events section of the polishsynagogue.com website. 

With our current schedule we will complete the film in late August or early September, in time to show the film in Warsaw during the October 28th opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. At that time we will send a special edition of Raise the Roof to those who donated $50 or more to our Kickstarter campaign. Thanks again to our four hundred and forty one Kickstarter donors and to the many donors who have come forward to help since the Kickstarter campaign ended. We continue our search for donors who would like to help us finish, distribute and publicize the film. Visit polishsynagogue.com to make a donation or to purchase cards and posters that support the project. 

Thank you from John Rubin, John Rubin Productions, Cary and Yari Wolinsky, Trillium Studios and Rick and Laura Brown, Handshouse Studio.


Completing the Film

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When we began filming the The Reconstruction of an 18th Century Polish Synagogue project we raised enough money through our Kickstarter campaign to make a short (ten to fifteen minute documentary). Your contributions helped put our film crew on location as the project was built. Thank you! 

As the Gwozdziec reconstruction gained international recognition, the synagogue’s symbolic importance became ever more apparent and the project took on a life of its own. We saw that our film could interest a new generation in the 1000 years of Polish-Jewish history and reveal much of the robust culture that was lost. We shot additional footage and extended the interviews to include more important scholars who have been attracted to the project. 

We are very close to completing a compelling one-hour documentary. We need just $35,000 to complete the post-production work (color and sound optimization and the licensing of historic materials). We are determined to finish the film in time for the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw in 2014 and continue our search for donors who will help make it possible. 

As you may know from our e-mail updates, our film Raise the Roof about the rebuilding of Gwoździec, was named as a finalist for a $35,000 grant from the Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Films. The winners were to be announced in December. Last week we received word from the Kroll Fund that the Kroll Foundation had collapsed and that no grants are to be awarded this year. 

Despite the setback we are moving ahead full steam. Last weekend we created a new dedicated website to raise the $35,000 we need to complete the film. Your name is included on the list of donors on the site. Please visit PolishSynagogue.com

We also made a live presentation at the Sha'aray Shalom in Hingham, MA. The live event received an enthusiastic response and we raised nearly $10,000. Please let us know if there might be interest in having us make a presentation in your community. You can download a pdf about the presentation here. 

Prints from the Gwoździec synagogue— You can now purchase detail prints of the Gwoździec synagogue’s ceiling painting from the Raise the Roof website (polishsynagogue.com) for $25.00 each. All proceeds from the sale of prints will offset the film’s post-production and distributions costs. 

Thank you, 
Rick & Laura Brown, Handshouse Studio
Cary, Yari & Babs Wolinsky, Trillium Studios
John Rubin, John Rubin Productions

The Bimah Goes to Poland

Here is the latest news about Raise the Roof,a film about the replication of a 17th century wooden synagogue.

News about the Handshouse Gwoździec synagogue project:

The ceiling and roof are in place in the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw! Please visit our website to see photos and get links to articles about the installation. 

Now Rick and Laura Brown are back in the Museum with a team of experts and students as they begin painting the Gwoździec bimah. Handshouse Studios replicated the elaborately carved Gwoździec bimah during a 2006 workshop. In July 2013, Handshouse donated the bimah to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. A generous grant from the Kronhill Pletka Foundation made it possible for the bimah to be shipped to Poland and for this new round of painting workshops to begin.

News about our film Raise the Roof:

The Museum of the History of Polish Jew is scheduled to open in the first half of 2014. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Program Director of the Core Exhibition, has expressed interest in showing the film in the Museum’s beautiful auditorium and including it in the Museum’s archive. We are already receiving requests from venues that would like to show the film when it is released.

We plan to coordinate the release of Raise the Roof with the opening. The Museum’s delayed opening has given us the opportunity to expand the scope of the film, taking advantage of many more of the interviews and of the rich footage we made on location. Our donors will be the first to see the film on DVD.

In this preview scene, Evelyn Tauben, a student painter working with the Handshouse team in Szczebrzeszyn, talks about why she wanted to visit Poland in a “generative” way.

Raise the Roof is in post-production — we are editing, selecting music, tracking down historic paintings, photographs, and film footage to include in the film. The licensing of this art is expensive. To acquire the quantity and quality of work that we need, we have applied for a $35,000 post-production grant from the Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film. Wish us luck!

$100+ Donor Update

To our donors who gave $100 or more to our Kickstarter campaign, the prints are finished! They are beautiful! The prints will be mailed to you as soon as we receive your address.

We need your address to be able to mail your prints.  PLEASE WATCH FOR AN ADDRESS REQUEST FORM FROM KICKSTARTER.

Many thanks for your support. Watch for more updates—they may contain more excerpts from our film.