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Raise the Roof (2015)

They set out to reconstruct a lost synagogue. They recovered a lost world.


Yari Wolinsky


Yari Wolinsky, Cary Wolinsky (co-writer)
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Inspired by images of the magnificent wooden synagogues of 18th century Poland--the last of which were destroyed by the Nazis--artists Rick & Laura Brown of Handshouse Studio set out to reconstruct a replica of the stunning, mural-covered Gwozdziec synagogue. Working with a team of 300 artisans and students from around the world, using only period hand tools and techniques, the Browns finally realized their dream. In 2014, the show-stopping reconstruction of the Gwozdziec synagogue roof was unveiled as the centerpiece of the new POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw. Filmmakers Yari and Cary Wolinsky's beautifully photographed and rendered film Raise the Roof, tells the story of this remarkable 10 year project against the backdrop of the 1000 year history of Jews in Poland.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Official Sites:

Official Site


USA | Poland


English | Polish

Release Date:

3 February 2015 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Trillium Studios See more »
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User Reviews

Record of a remarkable Polish synagogue reconstruction
8 February 2016 | by normspenSee all my reviews

A well-depicted record of a remarkable undertaking. Two designer/architect/sculptors (a married American couple who incidentally are not Jewish) are inspired to recreate part of a wooden 17th-18th century Polish synagogue which was burned by the Nazis in WW II. All other of the many such wooden buildings in Eastern Europe were also destroyed by the Nazis.

Owing to unique circumstances, black and white records of the exterior and of the interior rich ornamentation of only this synagogue had survived.

Hundreds of skilled craftsmen, dedicated interns and volunteers, and paid workers executed construction of the 22 ton framework using 18th century tools. Likewise, painting the interior decoration was guided by well-explained scholarly guesswork of appropriate color choices.

The photography is excellent. The background klezmer music reaches one's soul. One could quibble that judicious editing would have saved some film time to answer inevitable questions about managing such a large and diverse non-corporate operation over several years.

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