Collecting These Times Seeks Materials to Document Jewish Experiences of the Pandemic
June 3rd, 2021
As the Jewish community and the country begins to reenter life, a new web portal is dedicated to gathering and preserving materials related to Jewish life during the pandemic. The interactive website, Collecting These Times: American Jewish Experiences of the Pandemic (CollectingTheseTimes.org), was developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) at George Mason University in partnership with the Council of American Jewish Museums.
The Center asks individuals and organizations to share photographs, videos, documents, and memories about Jewish life from the last year and a half so that these materials can be collected and preserved.
During the pandemic, many communities drastically changed the ways in which they experienced and offered Jewish life—how they celebrated, gathered communally, prayed, and mourned. Today’s digital age poses unique challenges. On the one hand, a Tweet might circulate long after its author has disavowed it. On the other hand, media files and webpages are ephemeral. Much of this material will be lost if a record of it is not retained.
Collecting These Times offers an easy way for people to find collecting projects and upload images, videos, audio recordings, documents, and oral histories to be preserved by institutions in different parts of the U.S. Users can also browse curated contributions from different Jewish communities, covering everything from Jewish ritual practices to schools, summer camps, businesses, and many other aspects of Jewish life during Covid. Communities and individuals can participate in a variety of ways:
We have much to learn about how individuals, families, and communities used creativity and tenacity to reimagine so many Jewish experiences during the pandemic, and we hope that the Collecting These Times site will be an educational resource both now and in the future. Future Jewish community researchers and leaders will be able to view these collections and learn about the rapid transformation of Jewish life during this time. We hope that the collections will continue to grow as more people contribute content and tell their stories.
– Jessica Mack of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University
Efforts to elevate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are integral to this project. Its organizers seek to engage communities that are less often included in this type of collecting and interpretation, lending valuable insights into a diverse range of Jewish pandemic experiences. The project partners will be working with DEI consultants and an advisory board to approach this work with an inclusive lens and strategy.
Collecting These Times is supported by Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Jim Joseph Foundation, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, and The Russell Berrie Foundation.