A just-released video that is being screened by Jewish communities around the world chronicles a 1972 Chasidic gathering made famous by a request from the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, to open 71 new Chabad-Lubavitch institutions in the ensuing year.
Small clips of that gathering, held in celebration of the Rebbe’s 70th birthday, have circulated for some time. But the new release by Jewish Educational Media – timed to coincide with the 108th anniversary of the Rebbe’s birth, beginning Thursday night – goes further than previously-available footage. According to Yossi Bendet, an organizer with the global network of Lubavitch yeshiva students that partnered in the effort, viewers will be able to see all four hours of the historic gathering assisted by subtitles in six languages.
“We wanted viewers to get a good picture, a good feeling, of what it was like to be there,” explained Bendet. “It is the closest thing to experiencing it live.”
All told, 109 locations across the globe will screen the video, and study a pamphlet published by the students’ organization – Vaad Talmidei Hatmimim Haolami – containing the Yiddish, Hebrew and English text of the four Chasidic discourses the Rebbe delivered at the gathering.
At the 1972 celebration, the Rebbe explained that although the attainment of 70 years was typically synonymous with retirement, the nature of Jewish existence was to always continue to grow stronger and greater. Human beings enjoy the fruit of their labor more than what they’re given as a gift, he said. The task, therefore, is to partner with G‑d to bring the world to completeness and an ability to experience full satisfaction.
The video was restored by JEM’s Living Archive Preservation Project, which is sponsored by a grant from the Rohr Family Foundation and Ben Federman. Funding for the DVD release was provided by the Lapidus family of Buenos Aires and by Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in Thailand.
Preservation manager Dekel Hamatian, who flew to Burbank, Calif., with the original 38-year-old film reels in hand, said that tremendous effort went into restoring the historic materials.
“It took three full days to transfer the video” said Hamatian. “We worked minute by minute, frame by frame.