Jewish Heritage Report
Vol. I, Nos. 3-4 / Winter 1997-98
Sacred Places

Partners for Sacred Places Reports on How Historic Religious Properties Serve Communities

Partners for Sacred Places, a national preservation organization devoted to helping congregations maintain and preserve their historic structures has issued an important study documenting the role historic buildings play in meeting the many social needs of (mostly urban) neighborhoods. The report, Sacred Places at Risk: New Evidence on How Endangered Older Churches and Synagogues Serve Communities, demonstrates two key realities in American life: "that older sacred places are vibrant and productive centers of community service that benefit the public at large [and]...they are at risk because of their age and often fragile physical condition." While relatively few synagogue congregations still occupy historic buildings, there are still some, and most of these operate some social outreach programs. More importantly, numerous socially active churches are housed in former synagogues, and the activities of these Christian congregations continue to give the buildings life. It is hoped that the Partners' report will help assist these congregations to secure the resources they need to maintain their buildings and continue their programs. Increasingly, secular private foundations are addressing these needs, and there is currently an intensive lobbying effort in Congress to allow an increase of public funds to be used to support "faith-based" charities.

JHR readers wanting to receive a copy of the report or with information on funding sources should contact ISJM or Partners for Sacred Places, 1616 Walnut St., Suite 2310, Philadelphia, PA, 19103; tel. (215) 546-1288; e-mail; or consult the website

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Updated: 23-July-98