Jewish Media Service, records
Scope and Content Note
Contains material collected by the Jewish Media Service (JMS) on Jewish films, film company catalogs, resources and information from and about various media centers. The majority of the Jewish Media Service records date from when the JMS operated independently from 1975 to 1987.
Types of material found in the collection include articles, brochures, catalogs, correspondence, examination study guides, filmographies, film stills, newsletters, pamphlets, photographs, posters, publications, scripts, and slides.
The papers are valuable to researchers studying these aspects of Jewish history: Israel, Jewish education, Jewish film, Jewish identity, Soviet Jewry, Yiddish film, and Zionism.
The collection is in English, French, German, Spanish and Yiddish.
- undated, 1898, 1944, 1955, 1957, 1961-1990
- Majority of material found within 1975 - 1987
- Jewish Media Service (Organization)
Language of Materials
The collection is in English, French, German, Spanish and Yiddish.
The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.
Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011
Jewish Media Service (1975-1987)
In 1973, the Institute for Jewish Life, located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, initiated a national project with the goal of "fostering the effective use of the non-print communications media by Jewish institutions and groups."1 The Media Project assessed the extent to which audiovisual materials and equipment were already being used in the community and, on that basis, provided for unmet needs.2 The Media Project was designed "to promote increased understanding and greater effective use of media for the improvement of Jewish education and the cultivation of Jewish identity in the United States."3
There was a need for a central, professionally-run archive of media information and materials, geared towards the specific and widely shared objectives of Jewish educators, community workers and lay leaders. The Media Project began to perform many of the functions of such a center and laid the foundation for its establishment.
In March of 1975, the Institute reviewed the accomplishments of the Media Project and decided on its continuation, renaming it the Jewish Media Service (JMS). When the Institute closed up, the JMS moved its offices into Brandeis University and operated independently in 1975. The JMS was created under a mandate from the Council of Jewish Federations. The Jewish Media Service became a national clearinghouse for the exchange of audio-visual materials and media ideas that originated from national and local community experiences.4 The JMS supported independent filmmakers and video producers seeking new opportunities for their work as well as providing exposure for quality productions.
The Council of Jewish Federations and the National United Jewish Appeal became two immediate primary sponsors of the JMS in 1978. The Jewish Welfare Board became a sponsor later in 1978 and agreed to take on and house the records of the JMS. The first director of the Jewish Media Service was Sharon Pucker Rivo, who served from 1975 to 1978. Eric Goldman served as an intern under Rivo at Brandeis from 1974 to 1976 and directed the New Jewish Media Project, a student film cooperative. Bernard Timberg and David Kaufman, two Jewish film aficionados, also participated in this project. In 1978, Eric Goldman became the second director of the Jewish Media Service and served until the Spring of 1987. Under Goldman's supervision, the Service provided the intellectual leadership to educate CJF and other Jewish organizations about the potential of media to support a variety of communal objectives.5
The Jewish Media Service, in conjunction with the Jewish Welfare Board Lecture Bureau, published Jewish Films and Their Makers (AJHS Call # DS115.95.Z9 J29) in 1986, a listing of independent filmmakers/speakers and their films. The publication is a resource guide to the work of more than forty Jewish film and video artists.6
The Jewish Media Service started at Brandeis, but for much of its existence the JMS operated in the New York offices of the Jewish Welfare Board. While operating in New York City from 1978 to 1987, the JMS was funded by three main organizations: the Council of Jewish Federations, the American Zionist Youth Foundation, and the Jewish Welfare Board. Representatives of the reform and conservative movements also financially supported the JMS. In 1987 after the Jewish Media Service closed, the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) took over some of the responsibilities of the JMS, including the publication of Medium, until the early 1990s. When JESNA realized that they could no longer continue operating the JMS as well as the publishing of Medium, the records of the JMS were surrendered and somehow donated to the American Jewish Historical Society (Eric Goldman, personal communication, June 15, 2011).
The Jewish Media Service was involved with the creation of Jewish cable networks in the Jewish communities. The JMS initiated the creation of film festivals such as the American Film Festival, the Sephardic film festival, and Yiddish film festivals. The Service produced trigger films and was involved with pilot projects. The JMS also participated in many film screenings and taught media workshops in schools.
The functions of the JMS were: "to serve as a central repository and distribution center for audiovisual materials (film, videotape, slide/tape, and filmstrip/tape programs) of particular value to the community; add to the stock of such materials by facilitating new production on both the national and the local levels; provide consultative and referral services to users in the field, based on an ongoing evaluation of existing materials; inform users of new technological developments and train them in their use."7 The functions of the JMS are listed below.
Consultation and Media Referral Service
The Jewish Media Service staff answered inquiries and provided consultation on film selection, acquisition and usage of audio-visual equipment, media production, and the effective use of these materials for training and community education.8 This service was provided to local and regional Jewish media centers, Jewish community centers, educational institutions, Jewish Federations, and community organizations.
The Jewish Media Service developed a series of workshops for presentation at national conventions and for staff training to increase understanding of the creative potential of the media for Jewish programming and teaching. The workshops revealed the potential of each medium in a variety of settings and demonstrated production techniques with media such as: 16-mm, film, super-8 film, videotape, filmstrips, slide/tapes and overhead transparencies.9
Update & Review
Medium, the Jewish media review, was published three times per year by the Jewish Media Service. A specific topic of Jewish interest was explored in each issue. Medium was distributed nationally for free to Jewish communal professionals, educators and concerned lay leaders. Issues of the Medium can be found in the Jewish Educational Service for North America (I-75) collection at the American Jewish Historical Society. The Jewish Media Service evaluated existing and new media and published specialized listings and filmographies for distribution in the Medium as well as in TV in Review and TV Memo.
Film and Videotape Distribution
The Jewish Media Service began a nonprofit film and videotape distribution program. The JMS carefully selected materials of special value and prepared supplementary printed materials to meet the various needs of the Jewish community. Feature-length films, short films and videotapes were selected for catalog listing from national and international sources.
Television (Broadcast and Syndication)
The Jewish Media Service supported national Jewish programming and made television-ready programs available for lease. JMS also provided consultations to communities wanting to make use of the television medium, and offered innovative suggestions with which to program. TV Memo, the JMS TV usage advisory, was published periodically and distributed to professionals and individuals in Jewish communities.
The Jewish Media Service created the Rutenberg and Everett Yiddish Film Library in the American Jewish Historical Society to salvage, restore, and circulate films of unique historic importance.
1 Brochure: Jewish Media Service: A National Clearinghouse For Audiovisual Resources - A Project of the Institute for Jewish Life (AJHS I-513, Box 30, Folder 13)
3 Pamphlet: Soviet Jewry: A Catalogue of Media Materials, compiled by Amy W. Kronish. Institute for Jewish Life (AJHS I-168, Box 10, Folder 11: The Media Project)
4 Brochure: Jewish Media Service: A National Clearinghouse For Audiovisual Resources - A Project of the Institute for Jewish Life (AJHS I-513, Box 30, Folder 13)
5 Ukeles, Jacob D. The New Technology: Strategies for Enhancing Jewish Education. Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, 1986.
6 Jewish Media Service & JWB Lecture Bureau. Jewish Films and Their Makers. New York, NY (1986).
7 Brochure: Jewish Media Service: A National Clearinghouse For Audiovisual Resources - A Project of the Institute for Jewish Life (AJHS I-513, Box 30, Folder 13)
9 Brochure: Jewish Media Service: A National Clearinghouse For Audiovisual Resources - A Project of the Institute for Jewish Life (AJHS I-513, Box 30, Folder 13)
17 Linear Feet (34 manuscript boxes)
Contains material collected by the Jewish Media Service (JMS) on Jewish films, film company catalogs, resources and information from and about various media centers. The majority of the Jewish Media Service records date from when the JMS operated independently from 1975 to 1987. Types of material found in the collection include articles, brochures, catalogs, correspondence, examination study guides, filmographies, film stills, newsletters, pamphlets, photographs, posters, publications, scripts, and slides.
The collection is arranged into four series as follows:
- Series I: Notes on Jewish Film A-Z, undated, 1898, 1944, 1955, 1957, 1961-1990
- Series II: Film Company Catalogs A-Z, undated, 1960s-1980s
- Series III: Resources A-Z, undated, 1962, 1965-1968, 1970-1989
- Series IV: Media Centers, undated, 1972-1987
- Subseries A: Newsletters, 1979-1987
- Subseries B: Pamphlets, undated, 1973-1980, 1982-1985
- Subseries C: General Files, undated, 1972, 1974, 1977-1987
Located in AJHS New York, NY
The Jewish Media Service (JMS) collection was part of a larger collection of files donated to the American Jewish Historical Society by the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA). The JESNA records were received over a series of donations from the American Association for Jewish Education, later JESNA, beginning in 1971. It is not known in what year the JMS records were donated to the AJHS. JESNA provided additional records in 1990, 1994, 1995, 1998, and 2001.
- American Jewish Historical Society
- American Zionist Youth Foundation
- Brandeis University
- Council of Jewish Federations (U.S.)
- Examination study guides
- Film stills
- Goldman, Eric A. (Eric Arthur)
- Institute for Jewish Life (U.S.)
- Jewish Education Service of North America
- Jewish Media Service
- Jewish film
- Jewish film festivals
- Jews -- Education
- Jews -- Identity
- Jews, Soviet
- Kaufman, David, 1948-
- National Jewish Welfare Board
- New York (N.Y.)
- Publications (documents)
- Rivo, Sharon Pucker
- Slides (photographs)
- Timberg, Bernard
- United Jewish Appeal
- Weicher, Karyl J.
- Wellesley (Mass.)
- Yiddish films
- Guide to the Records of Jewish Media Service, undated, 1898, 1944, 1955, 1957, 1961-1990 (bulk 1975-1987) *I-513
- Processed by Marvin Rusinek
- © 2011
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.