Lost Treasures: The Wooden Synagogues of Eastern Europe The Lino Cuts of Bill Farran

About Bill Farran

It all started in 1968 with the need for a quick gift. I made a woodcut, and framed it. After that I created a woodcut or linocut each Jewish New Year. My two children were announced to the world via a woodcut. As the years passed and postage increased, Jewish New Year Cards became less frequent.

Then in 2011 two things happened. First I make a Jewish New Card and posted it on Youtube for my friends and family. In the past I used the usual images; apples and honey, views of the Jerusalem, Jewish men dancing in the new year, men holding the torah or blowing the shofer. This year for some unknown reason I chose the wooden synagogue in Gwoździec, Poland, nowHvizdets, Ukraine. It must have been fate.

Then I met a group of men in Century Village, who were members of the woodcarving club. They were a mixed group, liberals and conservatives, religious Jews and non-religious Jews, Americans and Canadians. I decided to make a Jewish New Years video, and would carve and print my linocuts with them each Tuesday morning. I never did make the video, but I have created over 20 linocuts of Lost Treasures: Wooden Synagogues of Eastern Europe.

My wooden synagogue series has become a labor of love. It brings together many aspects of myself. My love of history and geography, my love affair with Jewish genealogy, my love of art, and my love of my wife who helps me research and write.

The process begins with finding a photo or drawing of a wooden synagogue. They were all destroyed by the end of World War II, and very few images have survived. We research the history of the towns or shetles, to learn about the synagogue, how the people lived and finally how the Jewish presence came to an end. We often become very emotional, but it is my way of not forgetting the past. Then I transfer the image to a linoleum block and carve. I work backwards, only "what I leave behind" prints. The next stage is to make a print from the block. I have to ink the block and place a sheet of acid free paper over it and burnish the image. All my prints are hand printed. Each print is ever so slightly different. I do limited editions.