(a friend and blogger that attended the premiere writes to me:)
Last night I attended the premiere of JEM's latest production, "My Encounter with the Rebbe: The Early Years II (1931-1938)"
Buy It Here, Watch the Intro to Part I
Unlike the first DVD (that I did a bit more work on) I had very little idea of what this edition contained as far as specific interviews and information. I generally enjoy this kind of thing, and I found it to be tastefully done and interesting. The intro is the same as the first, and although it's understandable – perhaps necessary – to dramatize it, I'd rather that it was more understated (I have an allergic reaction of sorts to PR and hype) – nevertheless I applaud the project and the product.
On my way out someone asked me if I thought Jews in Boro Park or Flatbush would buy it. I wonder – I don't really know if non-Lubavitchers have much of an interest. I think that an oral history project – like this – has real value, but as a marketable production, do people that belong to other groups and communities care? Lubavitchers care (although, I don't know how many buy these things) and this, of course, raises a number of questions about what Lubavitch means to anyone outside of Lubavitch, but from an objective standpoint what does a DVD like this really mean?
For starters it's not about documentation of factoids – these are interviews with people repeating personal information that they, or their families, share. They definitely try to find both Lubavitcher & non-Lubavitcher voices, and they try to be as accurate as possible about the facts, but I am sure that the critics will question and reject whatever doesn't fit their perception. Does the fact that the segements contain inviduals who were there, or at least not far removed from the Baal HaMaayseh, make this stronger than a lifeless bit of black & white information? I suspect it depends on what the viewer's preconcieved notions are.
I wonder, though, since history is basically a collection of subjective stories anyway, why would or wouldn't a project this be as compelling as personal experiences related about any man? Would it be possible for people to lay aside the axes they have to grind for a minute to hear it? I dunno. I hope that all us "experts" in the blogosphere will at least seek out a copy and give it a look; I'm curious to hear what you think!
Some of the highlights from this production:
* We heard about how the Rebbe made R' Baruch Ber cry.
* We heard that the Frierdiker Rebbe insisted that the Rebbe continue and complete college in Paris, when the Rebbe was ready to devote his time to Torahdike pursuits (after Berlin).
* We heard that the Rebbe was kvater and babysat on at least one occasion.
* We heard how the Rebbe passed 20-25 shuls in Berlin to daven by the Dombrover Rebbe – and held him in high esteem (does that makes Lubavitchers supporters of the M.D.U camp in Bobov?).
* We found out that the Rebbe preferred a French studio apartment over a fully furnished larger living quarters.
* We learned a lot more about the Rebbe's college affairs in France, and that he managed to fair well, excelling in mathematics, while missing an enormous amount of class time.
*I noticed that the Rebbe's college documents in Berlin list his name Schneersohn, and in France the name was written Schneerson...
Some photos from the "premiere": HERE