The Lost Shul Mural project shares one of Vermont's unparalleled Jewish and artistic treasures with the world. By rescuing, interpreting and celebrating this distinctive work, we inspire memories of ancestors, help illuminate a vanished world - Eastern Europe before WWII - and forge connections with those inspired by the mural's story.



I am honored to serve as Chair of the group that is raising funds to restore and interpret Burlington's unique "lost shul" mural. We are fortunate to have inherited this work of art, which gives a glimpse into the past of the Vermont Jewish community, but which also has meaning for everyone who sees it. I'm happy to report that we  are well along on a remarkable journey, thanks to you. The mural is now in place in the lobby of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue. Today we announce the next two phases of our campaign: restoring the mural to its original 1910 condition and constructing exhibits to help visitors follow the mural's story from its Lithuanian artist's roots to Burlington's once vibrant "Little Jerusalem." 


If you happened to miss all the excitement last year when we relocated the historic mural from its original home, the former Chai Adam synagogue, to its new one, Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, in Burlington, you can read more about it and watch a video here . (Left, the mural on the move.) We are proud - but not surprised - that Engineering Ventures received an Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC (American Consulting Engineers Council of Vermont) for their design and execution of that complex move. In fact, the firm won in the highest scoring category for the engineering solutions and the quality of execution.


Since the mural was moved into its new home in the public lobby of Ohavi Zedek's synagogue, work has been ongoing to protect this priceless treasure, whose images suggest the Biblical tent containing the Ark of the Covenant. To learn more about the mural's 1910 colors, conservators Constance Silver (left) and Rick Kershner initiated preliminary cleaning in a few small selected portions of the mural. Those efforts continue to inform and excite us about the vibrant nature of the original hues. To protect  the valuable work, we have situated temperature and humidity monitors around it, along with fans to protect the mural from heat; and we have placed drapes over the protective glass in the lobby to guard against exposure to direct sunlight.


Following up on this impressive article published in the May 9, 2016 edition of the Times of Israel , the Consul General of Israel to New England, Yehuda Yaakov , and his wife Ofra, visited the mural on September 1st. Mural Co-Directors Aaron Goldberg  and Jeff Potash joined with Rabbi Amy Small in welcoming these distinguished guests and educating them about the mural's past, present, and future.


Ben Zion Black (seen here as a young man, together with a still-younger one), the artist responsible for creating our unique 21' long, 11' high,three-tiered mural, was born in Kovno, Lithuania in 1886. We are indebted to him for his vision and marvel at his renaissance-man qualities: professional artist, mandolin player, actor and director, Yiddish poet and playwright, and commercial sign maker. ... We are "in the black" in another sense:  With the recent receipt of two generous gifts, all expenses associated with the first phase of our project, which included the conservation, preservation, and complex move of the mural, have been paid in full! Now, onward toward completion.


We invite you to come see our renowned artwork, as have so many people from around the world - including, last spring, a particularly special guest, Vilna-born art Samuel Bak. We encourage you to visit our website, filled with information and imagery, to learn about our progress. And, finally, we appeal to you for financial support so that we can carry out the restoration and educational initiative efficiently, economically, and in ways that are certain to inspire!


We are delighted to announced that on March 5, 2017, best-selling author Chris Bohjalian will be our special guest for a talk about his writing, the Lost Shul Mural, and  the Armenian Genocide. Further details to follow. We hope that you will join us then.


Lost Shul Mural Project
188 North Prospect St., Burlington, VT 05401