Raise the Roof


Artists Rick and Laura Brown inspire an international team of students and craftsmen to travel to Poland intent on rebuilding Gwozdziec, a magnificent 18th century wooden synagogue that had been destroyed by the Nazis. As they hew the complex log structure and recreate the elaborately painted ceiling, they discover a little known period of history when Jews and Poles worked side-by-side to create a stunning, mysterious, and profoundly meaningful building.

Raise the Roof provides a window into a time period that is often clouded by fictional representations like Fiddler on the Roof, and overshadowed by the tragic realities of the 20th century. The film tells the story of the reconstruction of the Gwozdziec synagogue against a backdrop of a revived interest in Polish Jewry and challenges entrenched attitudes about Polish-Jewish relations.

Gwozdziec’s reconstructed roof and elaborate ceiling painting will soon be the centerpiece of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews when it opens in 2014 on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Website: PolishSynagogue.com

About the Filmmakers


Peabody and Emmy award-winner John Rubin turned to documentary filmmaking after completing his Ph.D. in cognitive science at MIT. A writer-producer-director, Rubin has made a wide variety of films for television, often mixing the genres of history, science, and natural history. Rubin’s Peabody was for Ape Genius, an hour for NOVA, a film that explores the cognitive gap between apes and us. The same film earned Rubin his fifth and sixth Emmy nominations. The Living Weapon, a history of the American bio-warfare program, aired on American Experience (PBS) in 2007 and earned Rubin an Emmy for outstanding achievement in research. Rubin won the television writing prize from the National Association of Science Writers in 2002 for scripting Clone! for National Geographic Explorer. www.johnrubin.com


Cary Wolinsky began working as a photojournalist for the Boston Globe in 1968 while completing a degree in journalism at Boston University's School of Communications. Wolinsky is known for his international, historical, scientific and cultural photographic essays published regularly in National Geographic magazine since 1977. His numerous stories include: "Sichuan: Where China Changes Course", "Inside the Kremlin", "Australia: A Harsh Awakening", "New Eyes on the Oceans", "Diamonds - The Real Story" and "The Down Side of Being Upright". Wolinsky's articles and photographs have been printed in publications throughout the world. In 2006, he began collaborating with his son, Yari Wolinsky, to produce documentary films. www.trilliumstudios.com


After graduating from Bard College in 2004, Yari Wolinsky worked for John Rubin Productions, Inc. on three one-hour, PBS documentary films: Raptor Force, The Living Weapon and Ape Genius. He has worked as director and editor on narrative and documentary films for educational, editorial, nonprofit, and commercial clients that include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, National Geographic, PBS, AARP, Issey Miyake, Helping Hands Monkey Helpers, Life is Good, and Marriott Hotels. Wolinsky began documenting the Browns efforts to rebuild a Polish wooden synagogue in 2007. www.trilliumstudios.com


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