The year 1997 was an extremely exciting and productive period for Center researchers who traversed three continents from North Africa to Europe and Central Asia in their quest to find and document Jewish art. Extensive documentation of synagogue architecture and interior design, ritual objects and tombstones characterized this fruitful year of exploration.
The year began with an expedition to Poland where researchers have traveled every year since 1990 in their thorough investigation of the artistic tradition of this once considerable Jewish community. This was followed by an engaging excursion to Tunisia where researchers delved into the ancient community of Jews on the island of Djerba. The expedition to Azerbaijan provided a fascinating glimpse of a disappearing community of Jews in the southern regions near the mountains of Iran.
Researchers' second trip to Romania revealed the multi-cultured traditions of Jewish communities in the western regions of Romania. Returning to the Ukraine proved to be productive as researchers explored the shtetls and towns for remnants of the once flourishing Jewish community. And finally last Fall, researchers conducted an expedition to war-torn Georgia where, according to tradition, Jews have resided since the destruction of the First Temple.
The journeys were productive, but mostly full of anguish as researchers often were able to view no more than remnants of what were once thriving, vibrant communities.
The Center for Jewish Art concentrates all its efforts to document the unprotected, fast disappearing cultural remains, so that each Jewish community worldwide will have a name and a cultural witness to its rich past, at least in virtual reality.