ISJM: Continuing Our Mission
Precisely because of the explosion of new information and efforts, there remain important roles for the International Survey of Jewish Monuments to play. These functions include: acting as an open forum for the interchange of information, ideas opinions and methods between scholars, curators, activities, funders and the religious community concerning the fate of Jewish monuments worldwide; serving as an umbrella organization for the many extremely valuable independent research, exhibition and preservation efforts that continue to develop without the aid of major institutions; and facilitating the initiation of new research ventures that cross institutional, organizational, political, religious and geographic boundaries.
The purpose of the organization is not to supplant or subvert the efforts of the existing organizations, but to better tie these efforts together into a synthetic whole. It is the experience of many of ISJM members, most who whom are affiliated with other organizations, that too often institutions become too invested in their own agendas (for natural and expected reasons) to be sufficiently aware, considerate and appreciative of what others are doing in the field. The result is often unfortunate; fostering insularity and competition instead of cooperation.
ISJM doesn’t believe that it can smooth all differences in a field where resources are often limited and competition is intense, but it does believe that it can serve as a bridge for greater discussion and interaction. ISJM has had many partnerships with organizations in the fields of art, architecture, planning, preservation, museums, genealogy, religion and more.
The great strength of ISJM lies in its members. ISJM has no regularly paid staff; it operates as a members cooperative. While members are encouraged to raise money (especially for the Research and Publication Funds) they are also asked to contribute their knowledge and skills in order to help the field. This takes the form of sharing information; location and access to resources; photographic collections; bibliographic citations; technical assistance in preservation; language skills; and host of other talents.
Among our distinguished membership are many of the foremost scholars in the fields of Jewish art and architecture, as well as preservationists, foundation officials, journalists, and rabbis. As the Jewish Heritage Report expands its coverage over the next few issues, we anticipate a significant increase in an educated lay membership, many of whom are eager to offer pro bono services.