Television Institute for the Jewish Community Has Been Formed
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Television Institute for the Jewish Community Has Been Formed

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A television institute for the Jewish community has been formed to “provide support for the production and dissemination of high quality Jewish educational, cultural and religious programming in the United States and Canada,” it was announced by Aaron Etra, a New York attorney and philanthropist.

Laurel Vlock, a prominent television personality and cofounder/director of the Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University, said the programming of the Jewish Television Institute (JTI) will be disseminated by various means, including satellite service currently delivered by the National Jewish Television Network (NJTN) to 350 cable systems in 200 communities in North America. She said programming production is scheduled to begin this fall.

“As a people increasingly dispersed geographically, and faced with the triple threats of assimilation, intermarriage and disaffiliation, television uniquely, can provide the mechanism to reach out, educate and unify,” Vlock said. “Our aim is to create a Jewish ‘global village’.”


Among the programs the JTI proposes to support are a weekly live news and public affairs presentation. The series will include a live link-up with Israel as well as Europe and other major centers of the diaspora, Vlock said. Weekly features will include reports on the trial of John Demjanjuk, plans for the David Ben Gurion centennial, progress and news of Project Renewal, religious/secular conflicts, newsmakers of the week and issues of the week.

A second major project proposed for JTI support will be aimed at youngsters in Hebrew and day schools. The programming will be delivered via satellites to especially equipped classrooms throughout North America. “Once again a link with Israel will be stressed, creating a bond between North American Jewish young people and their counterparts in Israel,” Block said.

Another program series for young parents will demonstrate the “how-to” of celebrating Jewish holidays, family preparation for Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and other Jewish religious and secular activities.

Joel Levitch, who pioneered the use of satellite technology for Jewish broadcasting and who is to be JTI Board chairman, explained that the programs assisted by JTI “would complement efforts of Jewish Federations and other established Jewish organizations in various communities and that funds for this new effort were coming from independent efforts.” Levitch said the JTI has already received major support from a number of business firms in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

In addition Vlock said that a number of Israeli and America Jewish personalities have endorsed the JTI undertaking, including Israel’s Education Minister Yitzhak Navon, Knesset member Abba Eban, Knesset Speaker Shlomo Hillel, Communications Minister Amnon Rubinstein, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith General Counsel Arnold Forster, and Rabbi Wolfe Kelman.

Vlock said the days and the time of the JTI programming will be coordinated with the NJTN in the various communities.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund