Archives and Manuscripts Blog 6, Archives and Trauma

The Atlantic this week published a profile of Eric Lidji, the archivist who has taken on archiving the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting. He is the archivist for the Ruah Jewish Archives but as the piece points out, has added the Pittsburgh Shooting to his workload. At the time I’m writing this we’re two days from the one year anniversary of the shooting that killed eleven Jewish people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. I was surprised but heartened to find out about the active efforts made to preserve the materials following the immediate incident.
The article is something I would recommend that everyone check out; the attention to archival practices as well as the personal investment and labor put into creating archives is striking. It also provides a small primer on the formation of Jewish archives, specifically as a result of continuous communal trauma and persecution. I would like to push back on this a bit but do see validity in analyzing Jewish archives through this lens. Historical precarity makes the importance of being able to tell these stories clear. Still, the focus on the connections to the community that Eric Lidji has made, his methods in collection of materials, and his own documentation of his process may give the public a better understanding of the diversity of archival material as well as an understanding of their importance.

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