The Living Archive
Take Part
Our Supporters
The Living Archive The Living Archive The Living Archive
Preservation Blog
Archival releases
Archival partnerships
Learn more
Archival Usage
Letters of support
home  |  contact us  |  site map  |  Shop JEMbh
Letters of support
Perspectives on The Living Archive Restoration and Preservation Project

Professor Ann Braude, Harvard University Divinity School

Professor Simon J. Bronner, Pennsylvania State University

Professor William B. Helmreich, City College of New York

Professor Maya Katz, Touro College

Professor Reuven Kimelman, Brandeis University

Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, New York University

Professor Mark L. Kligman, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Professor Ellen Koskoff, University of Rochester

Professor Jack Kugelmass, University of Florida

Professor Jeffrey Shandler, Rutgers University

Professor Jenna Weissman Joselit, Princeton University

Professor Stephanie Wellen Levine, Tufts University

Professor Ann Braude
Harvard University Divinity School

"The film and video in this archive give access not only to the record of an important religious leader, but also to the lives, practices and beliefs of a significant cultural trajectory that has influenced American society, American history, and American religion. The images document many important historical events to which the Lubavitcher Rebbe brought a moral and ethical perspective through the lens of Jewish values.

“Whether one shares his perspective or not, the application of a moral framework to American society provides a valuable resource for discussion and analysis. The footage of lay participation in the Lubavitcher Movement will be invaluable to anthropologists, ethnographers, historians, and documentarians seeking to understand American religious life, ethnicity, the relation of church and state, the role of religion in economics, race relations, and a host of other topics.”

“The archive is especially valuable because of the long time frame it covers and its early preservation of moving images. For social and cultural historians it is heartbreaking to find how few moving images have been systematically preserved. We search in vain for footage of old television interviews and important historical footage that we know was filmed and aired only to learn that the video tape was simply reused or discarded. An archive like this is quite rare and needs to be preserved."

View the full letter (pdf)

Simon J. Bronner
Pennsylvania State University

Such a project would be unprecedented in Jewish language and cultural studies. I am particularly interested in the material as a folklorist devoted to the traditional expressive culture of Jews, including the rich legacy of storytelling and custom related to the performance events of farbrengen. Having unrestricted scholarly access to these invaluable images will benefit researchers in a variety of fields, including religion, linguistics, folklore, sociologists, and historians.

View the full letter (pdf)

Professor William B. Helmreich
City College of New York

"I am pleased to write a letter in support of your project. Your projected collection documenting the Chabad Movement and the Rebbe’s life and work will be a major resource for scholars and for the interested general
public. Researchers like myself, who specialize in Jewish Studies, social movements, and the sociology of religion, will find the 1,000s of hours worth of video collection extremely valuable."

View the full letter (pdf)

Professor Maya Katz
Touro College

…The archive is a media-genizah, documenting the Rebbe's talks on issues of moral life, Jewish legal thought, international politics, political activism, and the human condition. The archive consists of thousands of hours of audio- and video-recording and 150,000 photographs of the Rebbe engaging devotees in private counsel on the most intimate subjects, and addressing throngs of Hasidim, admirers, and tens of thousands of unaffiliated viewers tuning in via satellite broadcasts.

The collection provides an important window into American pluralism and how these values impacted post-Holocaust Jewry. Chabad, along with many other Hasidic groups, came to the American shores in response to repression and religious persecution in Eastern Europe before World War II. Chabad, along with other Hasidic groups that nearly collapsed during the Nazi years, rehabilitated in New York and built significant organizations and followings in the United States. Particularly in an age when anxiety over the "clash of civilizations" and religious extremism informs so many of American opinions and political positions, this archive provides a case study on how the uniquely American forms of pluralism and inclusiveness protected a vulnerable minority group, and how that group turned around to contribute so much to the American people and its cultural landscape.

…The collection of photographs, videos, writings and other documents of historical significance represent one of the most complete and important collections that document Hasidic life in the United States after World War II. While this primary source material documents a small religious group that profoundly influenced Jewish revival, the importance of the JEM collection lies also in its documentation on the history and impact of religious pluralism in the United States. I strongly support the continued collecting and preservations of these documents and I applaud JEM for their important work.

View the full letter (pdf)

Professor Reuven Kimelman
Brandeis University

Once properly preserved and made accessible the entire collection will benefit anyone having an interest in Chabad and/or the Rebbe and the value to researchers, documentary film makers and to the general public is invaluable. More broadly, for those studying religion, Judaism, or American history the convergence of these areas as captured in the film and video materials are a treasure trove.

View the full letter (pdf)

Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
New York University

The sampling that I have viewed from the vast archive is breathtaking.

There is absolutely nothing to compare with the video and audio documentation of a Jewish religious community that you have collected.

This archive is a one-of-a-kind treasure trove for scholars across the academic spectrum, speaking as it does to religious studies (one of the best self-documented religious communities in the United States); American studies (relationship of this religious movement to others in the American context); Jewish studies (modernization without secularization) and Yiddish studies (an extraordinary resource for the study of spoken Yiddish within a contemporary community); metropolitan and transnational studies (the transnational nature of the movement and use of media to create and sustain a far-flung network); media studies (the role of media in religious life); rhetoric, sociolinguistics, ethnography of communication, and performance studies (self-documentation of complete events offers a perfect resource for these fields); sociology and anthropology of contemporary religious communities; ethnomusicology (a treasure of music performed in its social contexts) and folklore (rich source for studying verbal art as performance); and education (how educators might use such an open-access electronic archive as the basis for a more research-centered pedagogy).

View the full letter

Professor Mark L. Kligman
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

"I have now used these video clips in a variety of presentations and teaching in various venues. In the various college settings that I teach in and the adult educational settings, I encounter largely non-Orthodox Jews who have an interest in observant Judaism and when I have played these video clips and other Chabad nigunim I always receive a positive reaction. More importantly it allows people to encounter the world of observant Judaism through Lubavtich in an accessible way.
Having access to this material for me as a scholar is important to future research not only for me but for my students and the many interested individuals who are searching to explore their Jewish heritage. Particularly for today’s generation of students, material made available in digitized technology over the web in a searchable fashion is certainly the way to disseminate and share this valuable material. The footage, talks, celebrations and many other contexts of films you have in your archive are most valuable for learning about Judaism and American history."

View the full letter (pdf)

Professor Ellen Koskoff
University of Rochester

"If properly preserved and made available, these materials will be of considerable value to documentary film makers and to the general public wishing to know more about the Chabad/Lubavitcher movement. “More broadly, though, they will be of interest to scholars of American history and those interested in larger social movements, such as the development of diasporic communities and how they negotiate secure niches in new places."

View the full letter (pdf)

Professor Jack Kugelmass
University of Florida

"That your organization has been able to collect these materials is quite remarkable and shows a tremendous sense of dedication, and commitment to history. If only other producing organizations were able to do the same, and realize that these documents are even more important today than they were the day they were recorded, and will only continue to appreciate as time goes by…."

View the full letter (pdf)

Professor Jeffrey Shandler
Rutgers University

"I can attest that the case of Lubavitch film, audio, and video is one of the richest resources I have encountered. The community's ongoing, creative use of media and their distinctive philosophy about the role of technology in religious life have begun to attract interest among scholars of religion in America and in the growing field of media and religion. Access to this material will enable greater understanding of a singular phenomenon of American media culture and its relation to American religious teachings and practices. The opportunity to preserve, inventory, and make available to the public this extensive corpus of media is singular and deserves support, as it promises to have a lasting and wide-ranging value for those interested in researching American Judaism, American religious life, and the impact of these media on faith communities in the modern world."

View the full letter (pdf)

Professor Jenna Weissman Joselit
Princeton University

"It is with great pleasure that I write in support of the Living Archive Restoration and Preservation project sponsored by the Jewish Educational Media. An imaginatively conceived and technologically sophisticated attempt to preserve and make accessible the wealth of audio, photographic, film and video materials which the Chabad-Lubavitch community has made a point of collecting over the course of the 20th century, the Living Archive Restoration and Preservation project stands poised to contribute significantly to how both scholars and laypeople think about religion in the modern and postmodern world."

View the full letter (pdf)

Professor Stephanie Wellen Levine
Tufts University

"This unique moving image archive, which documents the Chabad Movement and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, will be a boon for scholars and researchers across the academic spectrum. Having unrestricted scholarly access to these invaluable images will benefit
researchers like myself, along with historians, sociologists, ethnographers, filmmakers and any student of religion."

View the full letter (pdf)

Archival releases  |  Archival partnerships  |  Learn more  |  Archival Usage  |  Letters of support  |  FAQ
© 2009 Jewish Educational Media, Inc.
JEM homepage The Living Archive