In recent years, Jewish Educational Media - known as JEM - has become one of the most important organizations in Chabad.
Each Motzei Shabbos, people at Shuls, Chabad Centers and congregations around the world gather to watch priceless videos of the Rebbe, which JEM restores, curates, and reproduces at their modern editing facility in Crown Heights.
During the past 20 years, JEM has gathered, catalogued, preserved, restored and organized thousands of hours of video and audio, and hundreds of thousands of photos that make up the recorded legacy of the Rebbe’s life and teachings, and has served them up for consumption.
"Interest in watching the Rebbe’s talks is growing steadily," says Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, executive director of JEM, "and the demand for content featuring the Rebbe on social media has grown tremendously.
"We project that our videos will be viewed more than 8.5 million times this coming year on Chabad.org, Facebook and YouTube alone. Between the DVDs, social media, mobile app and the web, we’re on track for more than 20 million views in the next 12 months," he says.
The increased demand for the production of social media content is straining the budget, projected to reach $3.2 million this year (only 30 percent of which is covered by sales), of the organization whose operations are already humming at full capacity.
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George Rohr, a philanthropist who provided funding for several of JEM’s major preservation and production initiatives, serves as one of three “challenging donors.”
Asked why he feels the preservation and production of the video treasures is so important, Rohr said: “I know from personal experience how the Rebbe’s leadership, scholarship, vision—and his very presence—profoundly impacted those who met him. Twenty years after his passing, I find that the videos of his talks and interactions, in a way, ‘recreate’ that experience.”
To Rohr, the videos serve as much more than a nostalgic escape to times past. “The fact is, these distilled teachings are now being experienced by a whole new generation of Jews,” he notes. “They’re also inspiring a new generation of Lubavitch leaders.”
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