A new web portal has been launched to help American Jews and Jewish institutions gather and preserve materials on Jewish life during the coronavirus pandemic.
Called "Collecting These Times: American Jewish Experiences of the Pandemic," the portal was developed by George Mason University's Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, in partnership with the Berman Museum, Hebrew Theological College, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Capital Jewish Museum, Council of American Jewish Museums and Prizma: Center for Jewish Day Schools.
Users are able to find and contribute papers, images, videos, documents, oral accounts and audio recordings to various institutions across the US, with the collection being curated to show everything from schools and summer camps to Jewish ritual practices and businesses in various communities.
It currently connects users to around 70 collecting projects. However, the list of collections will expand as the project goes larger.
The site can be accessed in its entirety at no cost, with funding coming from the Chronicling Funder Collaborative, which supports efforts to document Jewish experiences in the pandemic.
“Collecting These Times is accessible to anyone who wants to share their experiences or better understand how Jewish life in the US has changed over the past year,” Roy Rosenzweig Center's Jessica Mack said in a statement.
“We have much to learn about how individuals, families and communities have used creativity and tenacity to reimagine so many Jewish experiences during the pandemic, and we hope that the site will be an educational resource both now and in the future," she said. "The collections will continue to grow as more people contribute content and tell their stories.”
“The website represents an extraordinary confluence of interest and determination by everyone involved,” Hebrew Theological College chief academic officer Zev Eleff said. “Our shared aim is to democratize our knowledge and wisdom of the current pandemic to deepen learning and scholarship on contemporary Jewish life.”
The portal can be accessed at CollectingTheseTimes.org.
But the web portal is not the only significant historical effort made to preserve and document Jewish life during the pandemic.
In April 2020, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research launched a similar initiative to gather and compile stories of Jewish life amid COVID-19. It primarily focuses on first-hand accounts on how Jewish life has changed due to the pandemic.
YIVO is a leading organization in the field of studying, preserving and teaching Jewish history, and has the world's single largest collection of Yiddish-language works. It is also one of the five institutions that make up the Center for Jewish History, which itself is affiliated with the Smithsonian and has the biggest collection of records and archival works of Jewish history in the US.