At ATC, something that we take very seriously is the concept of transcription as history-making; the idea that when we set down speech in writing, we are engaging in the act of creating history, setting in stone, so to speak, something ephemeral. While we’ve worked on many projects throughout the decades that we feel fit this idea, there is perhaps no project that better exemplifies it than our work for cultural and community center 92NY on the Elie Wiesel Living Archive. But before we delve into the intricacies of that project––and the great honor that it was for us to be part of it––allow us to introduce 92NY to those who may be unfamiliar with the organization and their work.
Founded as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association in 1874––often referred to as the YMHA or simply “the Y”––92NY began as a secular organization with the aim of enriching the social and literary lives of its members. Originally offering activities such as musical performances, literary readings, fitness classes, and various forms of adult education (such as ESL classes for New York’s immigrant population), the YMHA grew steadily throughout the years, eventually rebranding as 92nd Street Y, or 92Y, in 1975. Nowadays, the organization has vastly expanded its programming, offering a myriad of classes, talks, performances, screenings, readings, and resources to New York residents, both within the Jewish community as well as outside of it. This year, to better represent its roots and history in NYC, the organization rebranded once more as The 92nd St Y, New York––or 92NY for short.
The Elie Wiesel Living Archive
In 2020 and 2021, 92NY set out to accomplish something that would make history––to digitize Professor Elie Wiesel’s 180 lectures, readings, and conversations that took place over the course of over 45 years at various 92NY facilities. Elie Wiesel, a renowned political activist, Nobel laureate, author, and Holocaust survivor, is one of the most respected and influential Jewish figures of the 20th and 21st centuries, and 92NY recognized that the contents of his many lectures required careful, delicate, and accurate preservation. We at ATC are incredibly honored to have been chosen to transcribe all of Professor Wiesel’s lectures––an act of history-making that we undertook with the utmost care. With many of us having Jewish cultural backgrounds ourselves (including our founder, Sandy Poritzky, a first generation American who grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home), it’s impossible to describe the reverence with which we handled this project, as well as the pride that we take in having transcribed and captioned Professor Wiesel’s lectures with an exhaustive level of cultural sensitivity, accuracy, and consideration.
The Elie Wiesel Living Archive is now available for learners of all ages and backgrounds online at the 92NY website. We consider it a veritable treasure trove of Jewish history, Torah education, cultural education, and, in 92NY’s own words, “an essential guide in ethics, human rights, and memory in the wake of the Holocaust.” We strongly encourage you to take a look.