Biographies of Featured Commentators and Composers/Musicians

Handshouse Studio
Founded in 2000 by Rick and Laura Brown, Handhouse Studio is a non-profit educational organization that initiates adventurous, hands-on projects that move beyond the boundaries of traditional classroom learning. Handshouse projects bring history to life through the reconstruction of large historical objects using traditional techniques and methods. Rick Brown is president of Handshouse; Laura Brown is director. Several of their projects have been featured on major media broadcast outlets.
     Beginning in 2004, they organized and directed Making/History, the Wooden Synagogue Replication Project. In 2011, Handshouse Studio partnered with the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews to initiate the Gwoździec Re!construction project, now the centerpiece exhibit of the museum and the subject of the film, Raise the Roof, by Trillium Studio. 

Rick Brown
Rick Brown is a professor of sculpture at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He received a Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a Master of Fine Arts from Washington University School of Fine Arts, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia. Rick is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Fulbright Scholars Research Grant to Poland, Award for Distinction in Art, Washington University Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, and many others.

Laura Brown
Laura Brown is a faculty of sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She earned a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a MFA from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Laura has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, Massachusetts College of Art and Design; Lillian Heller’s Curator’s Award, Massachusetts College of Art; and a Ford Foundation Grant, and many others.

Thomas C. Hubka
Thomas C. Hubka is a Professor Emeritus from the department of architecture, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Author of the award-winning book, Resplendent Synagogue: Architecture and Worship in an 18th Century Polish Community (2004, Univ. Press of New England and Brandeis University Press), Hubka is highly acclaimed as a leading scholar on the history of the Gwoździec Synagogue and other Polish wooden synagogues of the 17th and 18th centuries. Hubka's scholarship and collaboration with Handshouse Studio formed the basis for the building of Gwoździec Re!construction, a core exhibit of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Hubka continues to teach in Portland, Oregon, at the University of Oregon, Portland State University and Portland Community College.

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is the Program Director, Core Exhibition of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Ms. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, who holds the position of university professor at the Department of Performance Studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, is a scholar and museum professional steeped in Polish-Jewish culture. She is the award-winning award author of numerous books and articles including, They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust, with Mayer Kirshenblatt, and Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage (University of California Press, 1998). In 2007, after an inspired meeting with Handshouse Studio founders Rick and Laura Brown, she initiated the collaboration with the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland together with the Museum of the History of Polish Jews to create Gwoździec Re!construction.

Antony Polonsky
Antony Polonsky, an award-winning author, editor and scholar on Polish and Jewish history, is chief historian of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Polonsky, the Albert Abramson professor of Holocaust studies at Brandeis University, in Boston, Massachusetts, is a leading authority on Polish-Jewish history and an important voice on the emergence of Jewish life in today’s Poland. He is the author of the monumental, three-volume book, The Jews in Poland and Russia, and a founder and vice-president of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies in Oxford, UK, and of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies in Cambridge, Mass. Polonsky’s affiliation with the museum is part of the museum’s Global Education Outreach Program, which will establish academic partnerships between the museum and universities and research institutions in North America, Europe, Israel, Russia and Australia.

Maria Piechotka
Maria Piechotka is Poland's leading authority on the country's historic wooden synagogues of the 17th and 18th centuries. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her architectural achievements. Ms. Piechotka and her late husband, Kazimierz, architects affiliated with the Department of Polish Architecture of the Warsaw University of Technology, are the authors of two foundational books about Poland's wooden synagogues, Wooden Synagogues, (1957; English, 1959), and later, the equally groundbreaking Heaven's Gates, Wooden Synagogues in the Territories of the Former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1996; English, 2004). Over the course of more than 50 years, along with their work as award-winning architects, the Piechotkas devoted their lives to documenting Poland's historic wooden synagogues. Their contributions were recognized by the Institute of Jewish Research (YIVO) for their work that “rescued from oblivion, the art and architecture of the Polish wooden synagogues."  The Piechotkas were invaluable advisers to Handshouse Studio during the decade-long endeavor that led to the creation of Gwoździec Re!construction, at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. In January, 2013, Maria Piechotka participated in a ceremony at the museum marking the installation of the exhibit.

Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland
Educated in Jewish day schools in the New York City area, Schudrich graduated from Stony Brook University in 1977 with a Religious Studies major and received an MA in History from Columbia University in 1982. He received Conservative smicha (rabbinical ordination) from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and later, an Orthodox smicha through Yeshiva University from Rabbi Moshe Tendler. He served as rabbi of the Jewish Community of Japan from 1983 to 1989. After leading Jewish groups on numerous trips to Eastern Europe, Schudrich began working for the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and resided in Warsaw, Poland, from 1992 to 1998. He returned to Poland in June 2000 as Rabbi of Warsaw and Łódź, and in December 2004 was appointed Chief Rabbi of Poland. Schudrich has played a central role in the "Jewish Renaissance" in Poland. (Wikipedia)

Timber Framers Guild
The Timber Framers Guild was established in 1984 as a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to understanding and promoting  the centuries-old craft called timber framing. Since its foundation, the Guild has been proactive in learning through exploration, practice, and archival discovery. Guild workshops, ranging in scope from the construction of a classic 120 foot long covered bridge, to the creation of play structures built in children’s workshops, provide the opportunity to learning by doing. These events blend the talents of everyone from professional framers, designers and engineers to interested beginners. Since 1985, the Guild membership has grown sixfold, maintaining a regular program of international and regional conferences, sponsoring project workshops, and publishing a monthly newsletter, Scantlings, and a quarterly journal, Timber Framing.  

Others Featured in Raise the Roof in order of appearance:
Alicia Spence, Project Manager, Timber Framers Guild
Mikkel Johansen, Timber Framers Guild
Gerald David, Timber Framers Guild
Marcin Kamiński, Student participant
Rashin Fahandej, Painter Leader and Art Director, 2011 
Ariel Rosenblum, Painting Leader!portfolio/cacq
Jason Loik, Painting Leader and Art Director, 2012  
Krista Lima, Painting Leader
Evelyn Tauben, Student participant




Di Galitzyaner Klezmorim
The Poland-based Klezmer band, Di Galitzyaner Klezmorim, was formed in 1998 and performs widely across Europe. The popular and critically acclaimed group contributed much of the music for the film, Raise the Roof, including some of the band's original compositions, though not written for the film. Known for their virtuosity, the classically trained musicians have built on the traditions of Klezmer dances and melodies to form contemporary sounds inspired by Jewish music. The band's awards include The European Prize and the Chopin Competition in Kraków and they've performed at many world gatherings including the celebration of the first anniversary of the European Union. Band members include Mariola Śpiewak, clarinet; Grzegorz Śpiewak, accordion; and Rafał Seweryniak, bass.   CDs of Galitzyaner Klezmorim may be purchased at

John Kusiak
John Kusiak is an award-winning composer of music for film, television, advertising and live performance including collaborations with Boston-based Prometheus Dance. He has scored hundreds of projects, including feature films: Tabloid, Secrecy and The Fog of War (additional music), television documentaries for HBO, PBS and IFC, and large-screen exhibitions (Yellowstone National Park and the Smithsonian). His score for Errol Morris’s Tabloid won the 2012 Cinema Eye Honors Award for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score.

NeoKlez was founded by Stanisław Leszczyński. NeoKlez, also known as KLEZMER TEAM is a Polish based Klezmer band that performs across Europe. The group's sound blends traditional with contemporary styles and improvisation along with elements of popular music such as jazz, funk, and rock. Hailed for its high energy, the group contributed two pieces of music to the film, Raise the Roof


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Biographies of the Filmmakers

Film Credits

Gwozdziec Animals

Q&A with Yari Wolinsky, Director

Q&A with Cary Wolinsky, Producer

Q&A with Rick and Laura Brown, Handshouse Studio

Raise the Roof Archival Material


Graphics for Public Screenings