Published On: Tue, Nov 11th, 2014

Joseph Sitt and Diane von Furstenberg behind $12 Million Venice Ghetto Renewal

Entrance of Jewish Museum

Thor Equities CEO Joseph Sitt and the designer Diane von Furstenberg are spearheading the fundraising effort for the $12 million renovation of the historic Venice Jewish Ghetto. The two lead the Venetian Heritage Council.

Venice’s historically-significant Jewish Museum and its three synagogues will receive a multi-million restoration on the 500-year anniversary of the creation of the city’s Jewish Ghetto. The restoration is expected to both ease traffic and flow through the museum as well as restore the centuries-old Synagogues.

Established in 1516 when the Republic of Venice decreed that Jews had to live in a defined area of the city and follow specific rules, the Ghetto would become one of Europe’s most culturally-rich communities. Three synagogues – German, Canton, and Italian – dating back to the Ghetto’s founding now carry hundreds of years of history and disrepair.

The $12 million raised will go to the repair and reinforcement of walls and structures through the entire building, as well as the restoration of gilded wooded panels bearing carved biblical features. Numerous adornments and design elements that have suffered the weight of a half-millennium will also be renovated.

It will also expand and modernize its exhibition space, completely reorganize the exhibition routes, the connection of the ancient Italian synagogue to the exhibition route, and add additional museum wing,

“This is a project long overdue and hugely important to European and Jewish identity. There are 500 years of cultural and religious importance residing within this community and it’s imperative that we revive and revitalize it, ” said Joseph Sitt.

“As much as this renovation is about preserving the past and the rich history of the Venetian and Jewish communities, today is about the future. All of us are responsible for making sure that future generations – 500 years from today – have access to these stories of human culture and progress, ” said Diane von Furstenberg.

Venice’s “official architect”, under the UNESCO Program for Venice, Renata Codello, Head of Italian Ministry of Culture office in Venice, will execute the entire restoration, with input and direction from some of the world’s leading designers and architects.

“In addition to the structural revitalization of the synagogues, we are vastly improving and upgrading the museum space, adding space and streamlining room-to-room flow to accommodate the incredible interest in this piece of history. This is a huge component of European culture and it can’t be ignored, ” Venetian Heritage Council Director Toto Bergamo Rossi added.

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