The Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey (JHS), an agency of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, seeks documents demonstrating the changes wrought by Covid-19 on the Jewish communities of Morris, Essex, Sussex, Union, and parts of Somerset counties.
“The goal is to understand how life is changed,” said Linda Forgosh, JHS executive director.
JHS is part of national and international efforts by Jewish institutions to collect a variety of original documents that create a record of this moment to preserve for future generations and for historians to use in their research.
For example, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has launched a link on its website that people can access to document, through a directed questionnaire, the ways in which their Jewish lives have changed (visit yivo.org/share-your-story).
In Jerusalem, the National Library of Israel is soliciting contributions ranging from emails about online synagogue services to appeals for isolated community members to announcements about innovative Jewish law rulings.
Ironically, in the last year, long before the pandemic became a reality in New Jersey, an academic tapped JHS’ archives to research the impact of the 1918 Spanish flu on the Newark Jewish community. JHS archives, housed on the Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany, include letters between prominent families that discuss the pandemic.
JHS is seeking diary entries, social media posts, newsletters, emails, photographs, videos, audio recordings, announcements, and other documentation of how the Greater MetroWest community has been affected by Covid-19.
Plans include the creation of a searchable digital archive.