Joel A. Zack papers
Scope and Content Note
The Joel A. Zack papers consist of research notes, correspondence, oversized architectural site drawings, slides, and photographs of various synagogues, mellahs, and Jewish cemeteries in various areas of Morocco and Turkey. Along with his own personal documents and images, this collection also includes several sets of photographs (and corresponding negatives) that became part of the World Monuments Fund Photo Archive (1989, 1994). The majority of Zack’s research notes consist of hand-drawn site maps and empirical data forms that were used to collect physical building and location information while on site visits.
Several dozen photographs from the World Monuments Fund Photographic Archive of the Synagogues of Morocco have previously been digitized. Links to these photos appear in Series II, Subseries 3.
- Creation: undated, 1986-1999
- Zack, Joel A. (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is in English with some Hebrew and French.
The collection is open to researchers.
There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact: American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 email: ASFinquiries@cjh.org
Joel A. Zack is an architect and an architectural historian. Zack has a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree specializing in Islamic architecture from the University of Virginia. In 1986, Zack began documenting and studying Jewish sites in Morocco, surveying not just the landscape (cemeteries, synagogues, etc.), but the histories of communities that thrived around the now-decaying structures. Before his surveys began, it was assumed that Morocco's Jewish community and its architecture had all but vanished. Zack’s investigations uncovered several once-thriving Moroccan walled cities, or mellahs, and his photographic evidence encouraged the Moroccan government to once again historically recognize their past Jewish populace. Photographs and historical commentaries related to this work in Morocco were the basis for his publication, The Synagogues of Morocco: An Architectural and Preservation Survey, which was organized and sponsored by the Jewish Heritage Council and the World Monuments Fund.
In 1996, Zack traveled to Turkey to conduct similar research on forgotten Jewish sites. He used his historical research, site interviews, and photographic documentation to publish The Historical Synagogues of Turkey, with support from the American Sephardi Federation/Sephardic House.
Zack is the founder of and currently serves as the President of Heritage Tours, a New York-based tourism company that specializes in custom-designed private travel packages to Europe and Northern Africa.
10.75 Linear Feet
The Joel A. Zack papers consist of research notes, correspondence, oversized architectural site drawings, slides, and photographs of various synagogues, mellahs, and Jewish cemeteries in various areas of Morocco and Turkey.
This collection is organized into three series based on item type.
- Series I: Research, undated, 1989-1999
- Series II: Photographic materials, undated, 1986-1996
- Subseries 1: Zack collection, undated, 1986-1996
- Subseries 2: World Monuments Fund Photographic Archive of the Synagogues of Morocco, 1989, 1994
- Subseries 3: Digitized photographs and slides, 1989-1996
- Series III: Architectural site plans, undated
The original donation of the Zack papers consisted of 4 bankers boxes of his correspondence, hand-drawn site plans, research, data sheets, three tubes of oversized architectural drawings, and various slides and photographs of Morocco and Turkey. Another three binders of slides, one binder of negatives, and 2 boxes of oversized contact sheets associated with the work Zack did with the World Monuments Fund were added to the collection at the time of processing due to their direct relevance.
Several receipts and tax documents were deaccessioned from this collection due to their sensitive nature. Upon additional surveying of the materials, a selection of contact sheets from the World Monuments Fund project were deaccessioned due to the availability of corresponding photographic prints and digitized images.
- Guide to the Joel A. Zack papers undated, 1986-1999 ASF AR 78
- Processed by Janine Veazue
- © 2012
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.