The Lost Mural project shares one of Vermont's unparalleled Jewish and artistic treasures with the world,  forging connections with all those inspired by its story. As we rescue, interpret and celebrate this distinctive work, we inspire memories of ancestors, help illuminate a vanished world - Eastern Europe before WWII - and preserve an immigrant symbol ... for all immigrants.

MURAL MUSINGS | Spring 2017


Learn more secrets of the mural: reserve your seats now. From May 19-21, our friends at Theatre Kavanah are premiering a concert reading of a new play by Joy Cohen. Set in 1910 Burlington, it takes place the day before artist Ben Zion Black is to unveil his Chai Adam interior mural. The community is aflutter as rumors abound, preparations are made, and nerves are frayed. Will the mural be a cause for rejoicing ... or something else? A 14-member cast presents this tale of artistic passion, assimilation, and cultural survival, under the direction of Margo Whitcomb. Performances take place at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center. There'll be post-show live music and a nosh on Saturday evening. Visit for more information or purchase tickets here.


Our mural is a complex work, and it can be a nexus for learning about life in Eastern Europe before the  H olocaust, u nlocking symbols that are unique in Jewish art, or imagining Burlington more than a century ago. That's one reason local educators have wanted to find out more and to introduce the mural to their students. Recently classes visited from the Community College of Vermont and the University of Vermont.   Dr. Felicia Kornbluh, Associate Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at UVM, wrote, " It was just invaluable to see the artifacts, which gave texture and local dimensions to the history we have been learning about Eastern European Jewish migration to the U.S. Our discussion of the lost shul mural was very moving and illuminating. I know that the history we learned is still percolating with the students, and will do so for a long time yet."  If you'd like to arrange a group tour, or would like one of the  Project Co-Directors to speak at your school or community organization, please contact Jeff Potash. 


Writer Chris Bohjalian was our featured speaker for a fascinating and very moving program on March 5th. Ninety people joined us as the prolific, award-winning author interwove world history and family stories to illuminate the Armenian Genocide and links between the 1915-1918 atrocities and the Holocaust. Bohjalian revealed how German allies of the Ottoman Empire supported the Young Turks (key officials in power) and later borrowed their rhetoric and methods under Hitler. The writer also shared a personal discovery he made while visiting Armenia and researching his book The Sandcastle: the great-grandfather he had understood to be a tailor was, in fact, a major poet and folk hero of 19th-century Armenia. Bohjalian concluded, "Whenever we talk about genocides, we begin with the numbers, but all of us gathered in this synagogue know that it's not just about numbers. It's about souls. It's about our families who were brutally taken from us and the notion of ancestral connection and story." 


If you're a local, you're probably familiar with "Everyone Loves a Parade," Canadian muralist Pierre Hardy's large-scale work for the Church Street Marketplace. If not, definitely put it on your to-do list for your next trip to Burlington. Completed for the Marketplace's 30th anniversary, and honoring Sen. Patrick Leahy, it employs trompe-l'oeil (trick of the eye) techniques and features a cast of ... well, dozens: average citizens and notables associated with the city over 400 years. Our two murals have mainly location in common, but we'd like to think that we're mutual admirers! 


We should mention another recent partnership with Theatre Kavanah. On May 11th we jointly presented the remarkable film Raise the Roof, which documents the massive effort, by two artists and 300 artisans and students, to reconstruct the elaborate (note elephant left!) roof and painted ceiling of the former Gwozdziec synagogue, now the centerpiece of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Our mural project is of a less colossal scale; even so, we will need a similar number of "helpers" to reach our fundraising goal for the remaining restoration work. We hope that you'll be one of them. We invite you to come see our renowned artwork. We encourage you to visit our website . And, finally, we welcome your  financial support so that we can carry out the restoration and educational initiative efficiently, economically, and in ways that are certain to inspire!


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