October 10, 2008
Recording and Remembering History – Toldot Yisrael
Can you imagine what it would be like to watch a DVD which features George Washington and our nation’s founders speaking about their personal experiences as they fought for independence from England? How much more "real" would our country’s birth be for all of us? What we describe is just fantasy as we all know that the technology needed to make that happen was hundreds and hundreds of years away from being developed.
Not so for the founding of another nation that plays a significant role for us as Jews.
At the time of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, there were approximately 600,000 Jews over the age of 15 living in the country. 60 years have now passed and there remain about 120,000 elders, each with unique memories from that momentous time. Some were active participants in the State’s founding-having served in the Palmach, the Irgun, the Haganah. While reading Leon Uris’ Exodus (and staring into those amazing blue eyes of the late Paul Newman), or a boring history book may fill in some of the story, nothing quite compares to hearing first-hand accounts from those who experienced the pain, the excitement and ultimately the joy of the founding of the State.
Aryeh Halivni (Eric Weisberg), the founder of Toldot Yisrael made aliyah several years ago. He knows that time is quickly running out and that recording (visual and audio) the stories of those participants is something that must be done now if that unique aspect of the story is to be preserved. He also knows that today the technology for recording and preserving those stories does exist.
Utilizing the latest tools in digital recording, Toldot Yisrael has begun the huge task of recording the reminiscences of those who played a vital role in Israel’s founding. When completed, the testimonies will become part of a huge interactive database and archive.
We write about Aryeh’s efforts for many reasons-not the least of which is the importance of what he is doing and the extraordinary time sensitivity involved as those who hold these recollections age. We also believe that a Bar or Bat Mitzvah might find this project meaningful and be moved to contribute some tzedakah to underwrite the critical interviews. Aryeh tells us that between $350-$500 would help underwrite an individual interview. How exciting and meaningful it would be to know that you helped record stories about the founding of the State of Israel.
To learn more about Toldot Yisrael, check out http://www.toldotyisrael.org/.