Jewish Heritage Report
Issue No. 1 / March 1997


This is the first issue of Jewish Heritage Report, the new newsletter of the International Survey of Jewish Monuments (ISJM). Since the founding of ISJM by Philipp and M. Raina Fehl in March 1977, much has changed in the world, and in the world of Jewish monuments. Many other organizations and institutions are now engaged in a wide variety of documentation, research, and preservation activities related to Jewish sites throughout the world. They range from small, local initiatives with modest budgets to projects complex in design and funding and, in some cases, worldwide in scope. Study of Jewish monuments, still on the periphery of established fields in the 1970s and 1980s, is now firmly part of accepted, and even encouraged, research. The establishment of so many university Jewish Studies programs, and the growth of Jewish museums, are among the major reasons for this.

At the Fehls invitation, I have accepted the task of reformulating ISJM in the context of these new activities. I am certain that the organization still has a major role to play as an independent, nonprofit, membership-based, educational organization. Precisely because of the explosion of new information and efforts, the need for an information clearing house and exchange is greater than ever. A flexible nonprofit organization that can solicit and distribute funds for deserving documentation, research, exhibition, and publishing projects is also needed.

The success of the ISJM will rest on its members. By consolidating knowledge and energy we will be able to publish a quarterly newsletter, sponsor exhibitions, review grants, and distribute teaching aids. We will continue to organize sessions at professional conferences, and will establish a list of speakers willing to address the topic of Jewish monuments to a broader public. Plans under consideration include establishment of a ISJM e-mail listserve and an ISJM Web site; preparation of an inventory and index of archival, photographic, and architectural materials pertaining to synagogues and cemeteries in American collections (as a continuation and expansion of ISJM's 1982 Jewish Buildings and Cemeteries: A Guide to Visual Resources, Vol. I: International Holdings in Israel by Ethel Hirsch); and more importantly, the establishment of a grants program to channel research, exhibition, and publication funding to individuals and institutions.

For now, Jewish Heritage Report will serve as the primary means of communication. Look forward to special features on countries, artists and architects, and issues. Thank you for joining us in the effort!

Samuel Gruber, ISJM Acting President

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B. Berman
Updated: 24-Jul-98