Toldot Yisrael - Oral History of Israel Video Archive

Toldot Yisrael is preserving individual stories of the founding of the State of Israel for future generations by recording video testimonies from those who were part of this era. These unedited oral histories form an extensive archive and interactive database that will be used by scholars, educators, and documentary filmmakers the world over. The material in this archive serves as an important reminder of the Jewish people’s legitimate right to a sovereign state in the Land of Israel, particularly at a time when that right has been called into question. 


The veterans associations of the Haganah, Palmach, Etzel (Irgun), and Lehi have committed their assistance in locating potential interviewees. Associations such as World Machal and American Veterans of Israel will help in locating volunteers from overseas who fought in 1948, including those currently living outside Israel. Advertising and media coverage will bring the project to the attention of other interview candidates. The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation (Steven Spielberg's monumental undertaking) has provided background information and knowhow, including interviewer guidelines, legal and copyright advice, and production experience. Furthermore, their former CEO has joined Toldot Yisrael’s team in an advisory capacity.  

Interviewing has begun on a select basis; 150 interviews have been conducted thus far with men and women in Israel and the United States. In the coming months, Toldot Yisrael will launch a full scale operation. These interviews will form the basis of an extensive permanent archive numbering thousands which will be assembled over the next five years. The content of the interview will be reviewed and catalogued by subject and keywords will be inserted making interview fully searchable. During this stage subtitles in English and Hebrew will be added to all testimonies. 
Web based technology affords the greatest opportunity for Toldot Yisrael to bring the founders’ testimonies to the general public. Once users have the opportunity to search for and select specific segments for viewing, the full educational potential of the archive will be realized. This process will open the door to a myriad of educational possibilities for museums, classrooms, and libraries. In a subsequent stage, curricular material, films, and short documentaries will be produced by Toldot Yisrael, as well as other independent bodies, bringing these accounts to the widest possible audience.
150 interviews have been conducted thus far with men and women in Israel, the United States, and Canada, ranging from 20 minutes to almost 12 hours, with the average interview approximately 2 - 2.5 hours.  Filming is conducted in the interviewee’s home by professional videographers in the language chosen by the interviewee.
Interviews are not scripted and cover recollections of Aliyah to Israel, home life, education, community, youth movements, with a focus on the interviewee’s personal account of the period up to and including the War of Independence and the founding of the State of Israel.
Select video clips are currently available online on the Toldot Yisrael YouTube channel.
Updated: Sep. 19, 2010