Behind the Scenes: Restoring Purim 5718

Record Restoration in Progress

Last week, Ashreinu released newly restored audio of the Rebbe’s Purim farbrengen 1958.  The audio was compiled from seven recordings, and restored from the original reel to reel records.

Often, recordings of the Rebbe’s talks are incomplete. Recording in those days, particularly the earlier years, was a cumbersome, expensive process, and those doing the recording wouldn’t necessarily record every minute. On some recordings, the niggunim weren’t recorded, on others  conversations the Rebbe had were not, and on others the recording simply cuts out or becomes unclear at certain points.The Ashreinu team works tirelessly to find the best and most comprehensive audio of the Rebbe.

Rabbi Zalman Wilhelm

Headed by Yisroel Slonim, the Ashreinu team go through the archives to dig out the master recordings, have them converted to a digital format, spend tens of hours listening to different recordings, and piece together the complete audio. For Purim 5718, Ashreinu tracked down seven recordings of the farbrengen.

The original farbrengen was recorded on a reel to reel recorder, so the Ashreinu team enlisted the talents of  Rabbi Zalman Wilhelm, of Burlington Vermont. Rabbi Wilhelm is an expert at reel to reel record restoration, and was instrumental in converting the records to digital formats. “Recording on reel to reel tapes is difficult,” explains Rabbi Wilhelm, “sometimes the actual tape gets ripped or stretched, and the audio is barely audible. Also, because these recordings have been in storage for so long, often they don’t work properly or have gotten damaged.” Rabbi Wilhelm sometimes has to pour alcohol on the recordings to clean them , or bake them in an oven to reactivate the magnetic strip. For the farbrengen of Purim 5718, he restored 4 reels, one of which was ripped in many places. He spent many hours painstakingly and carefully taping the strip back together.

Hard at Work

In all, the Ashreinu team uncovered close to one hours worth more of content, including niggunim, conversation the Rebbe had with people, and the Rebbe instructing people, by name, to say l’chaim. One of the most beautiful nuggets discovered was when the Rebbe announced that since 5718 was 18 years from the Previous Rebbe’s establishment of Tomchei Temimim in America, therefore the original founding group of 10 students should say l’chaim.  The Rebbe then instructed them to dance, but not on the table. and that since not all of the original 10 were in attendance, the Rebbe instructed the teachers of the yeshivah to complete the minyan.Hear that clip here.

Listen to the entire farbrengen here on

Here the Rebbe singing here, here, and here

The restoration was made possible by Rabbi Naftali and Rochel Leah Marasow.

Recordings of Purim 5718

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