In 2021 the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) awarded the Brooklyn College Library’s Archives and Special Collections unit a grant to digitize and share with the public unused footage from the creation of the 1997 landmark documentary A Life Apart: Hasidism in America, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
The project, overseen by Brooklyn College Archivist Colleen Bradley-Sanders, digitized approximately 69 hours of outtakes, which are now available at tinyurl.com/A-Life-Apart-Collection-Guide The footage, cataloged by Project Archivist Roberta Newman, can also be accessed from the Archives website: tinyurl.com/A-Life-Apart-Digital-Content, along with a finding aid to the collection.
Described by producers Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky as “audiovisual field notes” on the religious practices, cultural mores, communal organization, family life, inter-communal relations, and the Americanization process of a distinctive immigrant community from 1936-1996, the film and the outtakes include interviews with scholars (Ann Braude, Yaffa Eliach, David Fishman, Samuel Heilman, Arthur Hertzberg, Martin Marty, Zalman Schachter Shalomi) community members and neighbors from the Brooklyn neighborhoods where the majority of America’s Hasidim live.
The material has great potential for enriching scholarship in a broad range of humanities disciplines, including religious studies, immigration history, urban studies, sociology, anthropology, ethnology, folklore and ethnomusicology. It also has the potential for adaptation for use in secondary school and university classrooms.
See the PBS website for information about the original documentary film:
Questions about the collection may be sent to:
For information about arranging a screening of the full-length documentary A Life Apart: Hasidism in America, contact Menemsha Films at https://www.menemshafilms.com/ or Oren Rudavsky at firstname.lastname@example.org