VHS announces special event: 'Vermont Eats: Eastern Europe to Burlington'

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Historical Society is pleased to announce a new installment of its fundraising series “Vermont Eats” a cultural event that focuses on the food and communities that make up Vermont’s diverse history and story. This year’s dinner is in partnership with Burlington’s Lost Mural Project and Ohavi Zedek Synagogue and will take place at the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue on June 6th at 5:30 PM. The event will feature Samuel D. Gruber as the evening’s keynote speaker, who will give a talk titled “Picture This: Art and Life for Vermont's Jewish Immigrants.”

In the late 19th century, Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe began to arrive in Burlington, Vermont, where they formed a tight-knit community centered on a trio of synagogues in what’s now the Old North End. Known as “Burlington’s Little Jerusalem,” this community maintained many of the religious and cultural practices of the Old World until it began to drift apart around the time of the Second World War. The community was home to a vibrant mural at the former Chai Adam synagogue. Created in 1910 by Ben Zion Black, the mural is a rare example of Eastern European folk art and was painstakingly restored in 2022.

In this talk, Dr. Gruber will discuss the life of the synagogue, and what the works can tell us about their makers and patrons. But we’ll look beyond the synagogue, to the taste of life of immigrant Jews in their homes and businesses: what they made, what they sold, and—importantly—what they ate.

Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the Vermont Historical Society's Annual Fund and the Lost Mural Project. Tickets cost $50 and are now on sale on the Vermont Historical Society’s website: https://vermonthistory.org/vt-eats

About the Partners

Vermont Historical Society

Established in 1838, The Vermont Historical Society (VHS) is a nonprofit organization that operates the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier, the Vermont History Center in Barre, and programming throughout the state. Its purpose is to reach a broad audience through outstanding collections and statewide outreach. The Vermont Historical Society believes that an understanding of the past changes lives and builds better communities. Visit the VHS website at www.vermonthistory.org/.

The Lost Mural Project

The Lost Mural Project preserves and interprets a rare and important example of early 20th century Jewish Art (“The Lost Mural”) painted by an immigrant for a Vermont immigrant community and uses this singular and powerful artifact to explore the contributions of indigenous and immigrant communities which have created Vermont’s broad cultural heritage.

Ohavi Zedek Synagogue

Ohavi Zedek is Vermont’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. Founded in 1885 by 18 Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, it is today a growing community of about 300 member households located in Burlington, Vermont. 

Samuel D. Gruber

Samuel D. Gruber has been a leader in the documentation, protection, and preservation of historic Jewish sites worldwide for thirty-five years. Dr. Gruber was founding director of the Jewish Heritage Program of World Monuments Fund (WMF) (1988-1995) and Research Director of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad (1998-2008). Today he is a cultural heritage consultant and president of the not-for-profit International Survey of Jewish Monuments. He is author of American Synagogues: A Century of Architecture and Jewish Community (2003) and Synagogues (1999) and scores of published reports and articles. Gruber has been involved with the study and preservation of the Lost Mural since 2012.