Bridwell Library at Perkins School of Theology Celebrates
Digital Preservation and Access to Rabbi Levi A. Olan Recordings

Bridwell Library at SMU's Perkins School of Theology will celebrate completion of a major project to preserve and provide digital access to 210 audio recordings featuring Rabbi Levi A. Olan. The event is planned for May 5, 2013.

Rabbi Levi A Olan

DALLAS (SMU) – Bridwell Library at SMU's Perkins School of Theology will celebrate on Sunday, May 5, 2013, the completion of preserving and providing digital access to 210 audio recordings featuring the late Rabbi Levi A. Olan.

Rabbi David Stern from Temple Emanu-El in Dallas will speak at the celebration in Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall on the SMU campus.

As part of the celebration, attendees will hear a 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.

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.

Levi A. Olan (1903-1984) was a respected rabbi, author, educator, and community leader known as “the conscience of Dallas.” In addition to teaching at Perkins School of Theology, he was a lecturer in Judaism at the University of Texas at Arlington and at Texas Christian University, served on the Board of Regents of the University of Texas from 1963-1969 and was president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis 1967-1969. Rabbi Olan’s publications include 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).

There is no charge to attend this event, but reservations are required. For more information or to RSVP, contact Brittany Morgan,, 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

Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Church Ministries, and Doctor of Ministry, as well as the Ph.D., which is offered as a cooperative venture by Perkins School of Theology and the Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

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