Monday, July 6, 2009

JTS Puts on a Show: The Eternal Light Broadcasts

We are often asked for transcripts and recordings of The Eternal Light broadcasts—the Jewish Theological seminary’s radio and TV programs from the 1940’s through the 1980’s.

An article outlining the history of this broadcasting project is: Shandler, Jeffrey, and Elihu Katz. “Broadcasting American Judaism: The Radio and Television Department of the Jewish Theological Seminary” in Tradition Renewed: A History of the Jewish Theological Seminary, ed. Jack Wertheimer (New York: JTS, 1997) pp. 363-401.

In 2006, JTS produced a documentary DVD about The Eternal Light programs, which includes excerpts of particularly significant broadcasts. The DVD is available in The Library. A more detailed description, plus purchase information is at:

A transcript of 26 radio plays from The Eternal Light was published in book form, entitled The Eternal Light, edited by Morton Wishengrad, with a foreword by Louis Finkelstein (New York: Crown Publishers, 1947)

A condensed transcript of the program from 2/4/73, an interview with A.J. Heschel, was published in Response, vol. 6, no. 4 (Winter 1972/73), p. 23-34.

The Library also holds transcripts of additional programs:

A Conversation with Dr. Gerson D. Cohen: with Carl Stern (1982)

The State of Morality in America
(1975). This is a panel discussion with Edwin Newman, Newton Minow, Rita Hauser and Gerson Cohen.

On Our Minds: Radio Conversations with Ambassador Sol M. Linowitz, with an Introduction by Gerson D. Cohen was published by JTS in the mid-1970’s. This transcript includes iinterviews with Nelson A. Rockefeller, Simon H. Rifkind, Andrew Heiskell, Isaac Stern, John W. Gardner and Charles Frankel.

The Role of the Jew: an Eternal Light Interview with Simon H. Rifkind was published in 1945. This includes excerpts of the interview by Edwin Newman.

The JTS Music Archive holds the liberetto of the cantata The Alphabet of Life by Peter Lyon, aired on March 25, 1951.

The Days of Awe: Their significance and Relevance, a presentation by Dr. Seymour Siegel (aired 10/4/81)

The Maccabees, by Morton Wishengrad, a radio play (aired 11/29/1964)

The JTS Library also holds a selection of video recordings of the Eternal Light television broadcasts:

The Tender Grass, a Passover drama about a man and his seven mute sons (aired in the 1960’s).

Home for Passover, based on the Sholom Aleichem story of Fishel, the melamed , who overcomes obstacles in order to be home in time to celebrate the Passover holiday with his family.

A Conversation with Abraham J. Heschel (1973).

A Talent for Life, on the Jewish experience during the Italian Renaissance (1979).

The Golden Jubilee of Jan Peerce (1980). Martin Bookspan interviews Jan Peerce on the fiftieth anniversary of the entertainer’s career.

The Jew of Hungary: a Study in Survival (1980)

Golda Meir Remembered (1981). Elie Wiesel recalls his friendship with the late stateswoman and Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, with excerpts from his 1970 interview with her.

From Cambridge to Cairo (1983). The story of how Solomon Schechter acquired the Cairo genizah fragments.

Additional recordings, transcripts, photographs and other Eternal Light materials are held by the JTS Communications Department ( ) and the Archives of the Ratner Center ( ).

In addition, selected broadcasts are available in the Library of Congress Audio Collection and from National Broadcasting Company .

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