In 1910 the interior of Chai Adam synagogue in Burlington, VT was gloriously painted from ceiling to floor by Ben Zion Black, who was brought from Lithuania by the congregation to paint the synagogue in the prevalent style of the wooden shuls of Eastern Europe. Decades later the synagogues in Burlington merged and the Chai Adam building was sold several times before ultimately being converted into apartment units. Much of the painting was destroyed during the renovation but the mural over the ark was covered by a wall and forgotten until 2012 when the Lost Shul Mural was uncovered for the first time in nearly thirty years.
The Lost Shul Mural is part of a widespread tradition of Eastern European synagogue wall paintings that was almost entirely obliterated during the Shoah (the Holocaust) by the Nazis. Few of these treasures survived in Europe and most of those were located in Jewish communities that simply no longer existed. Time and the elements have nearly wiped out this type of Jewish folk art, but the Lost Shul Mural is a remnant of the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe, transplanted to the US by a Jewish immigrant artist. It may be the only surviving example of its type which adorned an American synagogue sanctuary.
Now, a hundred years later, we have the once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve this priceless treasure before it too is lost to history. As we honor the lives of all those lost in the Shoah, we here in the Burlington, VT Jewish community, led by Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, have taken upon ourselves the role of preserving this art and protecting it for future generations. We hope that you can lend your support to this cause before the Lost Shul Mural is lost forever.