So, here’s my current excuse for not posting for ages:

On Wednesday last week, the Jewish Women’s Archive launched an exciting (to me as a staffmember, especially) new project called “Katrina’s Jewish Voices.” The project lets us dive into something we call “online collecting” – the ability of individual people to participate in an exhibit by contributing their own images, documents, thoughts, media files, etc. It also lets viewers of the exhibit, as well as participants, do something that is increasingly common elsewhere in the web world: tag items, as well as to store favorites onsite.

As an archive dedicated to uncovering, chronicling, and transmitting Jewish women’s experiences, it is especially exciting to be extending the concept of “archive” beyond the limits imposed by internal resources and whatever selection process. And, by having this particular archive address the stories of both men and women, we are able to focus on the issue itself—the history of Jewish communities along the Gulf Coast, as well as the changes hastened or created by the impact of Hurricane Katrina last year (yahrzeit in two weeks).

Members of the Jewish community in New Orleans and across the country may now contribute their stories and photographs to an interactive website and browse the existing collection. Documents such as emails describing people’s experiences of evacuation, resettlement, and rebuilding efforts; photos of their homes and businesses; High Holiday and Shabbat sermons; and blogs and web pages are all important parts of the historical record.

Here’s the press release part: ‘If there is one message JWA wants to communicate, it is DON’T DELETE ITEMS—CONTRIBUTE THEM! “We encourage everyone to search their computers for materials they think may be of interest,” says Jayne Guberman, the archive’s Director of Oral History. “We can accept any digital file or people can type in their story directly.” Contributors can categorize, or tag, their items with search terms ranging from “dreidel” to “displacement” and “acts of heroism” to “Katrina fatigue.”’

‘JWA has also partnered with the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Mississippi on the oral history component that complements the website. Dr. Rosalind Hinton, project oral historian, will conduct 100 digital video interviews with members of the local Jewish communities. The public is invited to suggest names of family, friends and colleagues by using the nomination form at www.jwa.org/research/kjv.’

Do come visit katrina.jwa.org and let us know what you think!