This document answers the questions raised by our users following the announcement on Dec 31, 2002.
1. How does JewishGen benefit from this new relationship with the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust?
In seeking to take the next step in our development, JewishGen realized over two years ago that a significant change in infrastructure was necessary if we were to grow and prosper. We determined the best course of action was to become affiliated with an organization that was financially sound and operational at a level much beyond what we could ever hope to accomplish with a wholly volunteer staff. The Museum will be taking over the daily business operational needs of JewishGen in the areas of Administration & Finance, Communications & Public Relations, Human Resources & Volunteer Management, Education, Development & Fundraising.
2. Who will make the decisions involving the operations of JewishGen and the projects it has undertaken all these years?
Susan E. King, as the Managing Director of JewishGen, will continue to oversee the day to day operations and will be the conduit for new projects and programs. Ms. King reports to Dr. David G. Marwell, Director of the Museum.
3. What precipitated the need to become affiliated with the Museum?
We determined that without the support of an entity like the Museum, we would require far greater financial support than we were ever able to attract. It also allows for the growth and implementation of additional programs and entering into new areas we had envisioned for years but were never able to accomplish. The alliance with the Museum ensures a fully professional staff to handle the day to day business needs as described in the answer to Question 1. This will allow us to continue doing what we do best and to pursue the programs and projects to which we are committed, and which enjoy the full support of the Museum. In addition, the Museum has embarked on a wonderful and important capital expansion. To be involved with an organization of this size and vision, to help in articulating the Museumís message is good work for us to be pursuing.
4. Will the information posted on JewishGen remain freely accessible to those who cannot afford to pay for its use?
No change in access has been contemplated. JewishGen has always been committed to the free sharing of information, but the voluntary financial support has never reached the level which allowed for current maintenance and additional programs. We are hopeful that with the fundraising expertise available through the Museum staff, this situation will change.
5. Knowing this partnership was imminent, why did you solicit funds at the end of the year?
Negotiations with the Museum were ongoing, and JewishGen had to be fiscally vigilant in planning for the future. Requests for funding were necessary to see us through to the end of 2002 and ensure our financial health for the first quarter of 2003. Funding for projects will still be sought among those most interested. We also anticipate the opportunity of reaching an entirely new constituency, thus expanding funding opportunities.
6. Who will actually receive the monies contributed to JewishGen in the year 2002?
Money donated to JewishGen for either operations or projects will be used to support those functions.
7. How much independence will JewishGen retain?
JewishGen will continue to operate as it has in the past as a free-standing entity, invigorated by the Museumís support, enthusiasm, and wisdom.
8. On the upside, will we be able to interact with the Museum in ways previously not possible, sharing information and projects, creating resources for the public heretofore unthinkable? Are there projects already envisioned? Enhancements of JewishGen's current projects?
Our first task is to get all completed projects online. Having Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias as full-time employees will ensure that this is accomplished. We are working through the organizational issues so that all projects currently underway are given priority. Next we will deal with those that have been approved but not yet begun. Finally we will turn our attention and effort to the projects that have been on our wish list for years. Through this relationship, both the Museum and JewishGen look forward to benefiting from new perspectives and new resources.
9. Will JewishGen become more narrowly focused on aspects of the Holocaust rather than its current broad approach to Jewish genealogy?
The Museum, contrary to public perception, is a museum of 20th century Jewish history, technically beginning in the 1880s. Both organizations now have an opportunity to broaden their scope. If the governing Boards of both organizations did not see the potential for a mutual enhancement, the affiliation would not have taken place.
10. How does my membership with the Museum of Jewish Heritage relate to JewishGen? I recently signed up for a monthly donation to JewishGen.
The Museum is looking into the possibility of joint membership benefits in the future.
11. Was this approved by unanimous vote of the board?
The boards of both organizations voted unanimously to support the move.
12. Was the agreement between JewishGen and the Museum reviewed by legal counsel to make sure it met IRS and state law requirements? Did legal counsel issue an opinion to you?
After a full year of negotiations and "getting to know" each other, both organizations were comfortable with the fit before the legal documents were signed. Legal counsel for both organizations were intimately involved at every step along the way.
13. Is this a good move for JewishGen?
Not only is this a good move for JewishGen, it is an excellent move! It ensures the survival and continuance of the JewishGen mission in a healthy financial environment. JewishGen was being strangled by its own success and it was taking the full time and energies of Susan King to raise the necessary funds to keep us on line and pay ever-increasing bills. The Museum afforded us the opportunity to professionalize a heretofore volunteer staff and enabled us to take the long sought next step towards even greater accomplishments.
14. Will there be any formal or informal relationship with the Center for Jewish History (also located in New York City)?
The Museum has a long-standing and collegial relationship with the Center for Jewish History. All parties will benefit from this relationship.
15. Who will determine JewishGen's legal policies, in the face of concern that these policies have overly restricted acquisition and posting of data on the JewishGen web pages?
JewishGen legal policies were put in place to protect JewishGen and donors of material for display online. We will continue to respect and honor international copyright and intellectual property rights. The Museum has its policies for conveying information to the public, and these policies will need to be taken into consideration as well.
16. Will the affiliation in any way affect existing JewishGen partners, affiliates, and subsidiaries, such as the SIGs, the Yizkor Book Project, the JGFF, the burial registry, JRI-Poland, etc.?
JewishGen does not have any partners. We do have partnering agreements for specific projects with a variety of organizations such as Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The JewishGen SIGs, Yizkor Book Project, JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF), the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), and the online Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) are all "JewishGen". Our contractual hosting agreements with independent organizations may be subject to revision sometime in the future.
JewishGen/MJH Press Release
Version 1.02 Last Updated: July 8, 2003 WSB
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