2013 News and Events

Bridwell Celebrates Digital Access and Preservation of Rabbi Olan Recordings


March 27, 2013

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Dallas, Texas – Rabbi David Stern from Temple Emanu-El in Dallas will speak at the Rabbi Levi A. Olan Digital Collection Celebration May 5, 2013, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. in Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall on the SMU campus. At this event Bridwell Library at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University will celebrate completion of a major project to preserve and provide digital access to 210 audio recordings featuring Rabbi Levi A. Olan.

Addendum: Read Rabbi Stern's article about this event in the June/July 2013 edition of The Window, newsletter of Temple Emanu-El [PDF] [Link from Temple Emanu-El website]. 

Bridwell Archivist Tim Binkley with Rabbi Olan's Daughter Liz Hirsch

Bridwell Archivist Tim Binkley (l) shares archived
audiotape with Liz Hirsch, daughter of Rabbi Levi A. Olan


Olan served Temple Emanu-El as Rabbi from 1949 until his retirement in 1970. He also served as lecturer on Judaism at Perkins School of Theology from 1952 until 1978. Bridwell Library’s archival collection on Rabbi Olan includes audio recordings of The Temple Emanu-El Program, a radio show broadcast for many years by WFAA-AM in Dallas. The recordings at Bridwell Library date between 1961 and 1970 and originally were on reel-to-reel tape.


Concern about the 40-50 year shelf life of magnetic tape, along with a desire to make the recordings more easily accessible to the public, led Bridwell Library Archivist Tim Binkley to contact Rabbi Olan’s daughter, Elizabeth Hirsch, in 2010. Hirsch then formed a committee that ultimately secured donations to fund migration of the recordings into digital format by SMU’s Norwick Center for Digital Services.

As a theologian, Rabbi Olan was respected and prolific. His publications included On the Nature of Man (1948); Rethinking the Liberal Faith (1949); Judaism and Modern Theology (1956); Reinhold Niebuhr and the Hebraic Spirit (1956); Judaism and Immortality (1971); and Prophetic Faith and the Secular Age (1982). Olan served as president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis from 1967 to 1969.

Rabbi Levi A. Olan 
 Rabbi Levi A. Olan
Image courtesy of the
Dorothy M. and Henry S. Jacobus
Temple Emanu-El Archives,
Dallas, Texas

As part of the celebration, attendees will hear one selection from the digital collection, Rabbi Olan’s brief sermon, “The First Anniversary of a Tragedy.” Originally broadcast November 22, 1964, the sermon reflects on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Dallas’s response to it, and the need to eradicate hatred.

There is no charge to attend this event, but reservations are required. For more information or to RSVP, contact Brittany Morgan, bemorgan@smu.edu, 214.768.3483. The event will be held in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall, 5901 Bishop Boulevard, Dallas, Texas. For a map of the SMU campus, visit smu.edu/maps.


 Images from the May 5, 2013 Event:


Rabbi David Stern, Temple Emanu-El 
Rabbi David Stern
Temple Emanu-El
Read Rabbi Stern's article about this event
in the June/July 2013 edition of
The Window,
newsletter of Temple Emanu-El


 Roberta A. Schaafsma, Director and J.S. Bridwell Foundation Endowed Librarian, join the audience in applause
Roberta A. Schaafsma,
Director and J.S. Bridwell
Foundation Endowed Librarian,
leads the audience in applause


 Program Cover - Larger Image
 May 5, 2013 Event Program [PDF]


John Holbert (foreground) listens to Dean William B. Lawrence's Introduction 
John Holbert, Lois Craddock Perkins
Professor Emeritus of Preaching,
listens to remarks by Perkins Dean
William B. Lawrence