On the sidelines of the International Conference of Shluchim, a group of Shluchim and lay-leaders gathered quietly for a special breakfast. Dubbed the “JEM Curators,” the invitation-only conference was attended by individuals who have assisted JEM’s efforts to record, preserve, and share the video, audio, and photographic recordings of the Rebbe’s life – and by Shluchim who have assisted on their own or invited others to assist.
An emotional opening video named “My Encounter Goes to School,” presented the impact of JEM’s project to involve children directly in the live interview project, followed by a brief update of the status and plans for the My Encounter project delivered by Rabbi Yechiel Cagen, director of the My Encounter with the Rebbe project.
A special compilation of the Rebbe’s advice on personal matters – ranging from intermarriage to Shidduchim to business dilemmas, with private details omitted – provided a breathtaking glimpse into the Rebbe’s keen vision and a view of his personal advice on a range of topics.
A presentation of highlights of JEM’s “year that was,” followed, with an overview of JEM’s $2.7 million budget alongside key statistics such as viewership and major accomplishments of the year.
The centerpiece presentation, dubbed “The Next Frontier” was a vision of how access to recordings of the Rebbe will change in the future. Comparing the current DVD releases to “little pebbles of content being thrown across a river,” Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, JEM’s Executive Director, explained JEM’s plans to “build bridges across the river, so that people can access these mountains of treasures on their own.”
“Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been invested in the building of systems to do just that – contributed by individuals who both treasure thus precious material, and have a vision of the possibilities being opened up by technology – and millions more will be needed. But we’re on the way.”
As the first two by-products of these efforts, he unveiled two major new platform which “will change the way people access material of the Rebbe.”
The first platform, which drew enthusiastic responses, was a working version of the Living Torah app for Iphone, Android, Ipad and Android Tablet. As previewed, the platforms offer immediate access to over 1,800 clips of the Rebbe, fully subtitled, and searchable by topic, date and name. JEM is in the final stages of updating the metadata, etc., with only a few months remaining until launch.
The second was a website where people can tag, access, share, and order from JEM’s massive photo archive, enabling every user to browse the collections directly from their homes.