Just in time for the month of Tishrei, a full collection of privately-commissioned films of the Rebbe were published for the benefit of Chassidim worldwide.
“Levi Yitzchak Freidin was the closest 770 had to an in-house photographer,” says Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, JEM’s executive director.
Every year from 1975 through 1991, the Russian-Israeli photographer would film the special moments of Tishrei with the Rebbe on his 8 mm film camera. When he returned to Israel, he’d travel to dozens of cities, villages and kibbutzim, sharing the sights and sounds of the holidays with the Rebbe with diverse audiences.
Starting in 1975, when he first arrived in 770, Freidin formed a special connection with the Rebbe. Over seventeen years, he photographed over 150,000 high-quality photos of his renowned subject. In the early 2000s, his photographs were published online by JEM. And a generation of Jews have experienced Tishrei with the Rebbe through the hundreds of scenes he captured on motion film.
However, not all of Friedin’s films were included in the reels he created for public screening. From 5738 -1977, during each visit, he’d create separate reels which he would give to the Chosid Rabbi Zalman Gurary, who commissioned Freidin to film additional scenes.
Rabbi Gavriel Schapiro, a relative of Freidin who would host him during his New York visits, recalls sitting at the dining room table with Freidin each night, holding up film strips to the light, as the two worked to splice the films — one set of reels for the public viewings, and a separate set for Rabbi Gurary.
In honor of Gurary’s yahrzeit on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, his family has gifted the priceless collection to JEM.
His request to have the moments recorded for posterity was driven by his deep desire that his offspring be able to experience these moments forever. “He always said that he commissioned these moments for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to see,” recalls a family member. “That is a level of foresight not many had, at a time when it was not very popular.”
Now, that bond with the Rebbe can be experienced by millions of others, as well. “We are pleased to work with JEM and make these moments accessible for every Chosid to experience,” concluded the family member.
Included in the scenes are many portions of scenes with the Rebbe that were omitted from Freidin’s public reels and many shots of Gurary and his family at events with the Rebbe.
JEM’s archival experts say these scenes complement the previous Freidin collection and the team has been working for several months to restore the treasured footage and to catalog the scenes.
For a sample of several scenes painstakingly reconstructed from the two sets of film, click here. To browse the entire collection, visit JEM.tv.
Through this month, join vlogger Sholom B. to experience a Tishrei with the Rebbe in real time, including footage from these films. Follow here: TishreinTheMoment.com or subscribe to the Whatsapp status here
The Freidin Razag collection is dedicated by his family לע”נ הרה”ח ר’ שניאור זלמן ע”ה בן הרה״ח נתן ע”ה גורארי
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