JEM

Online access to The Living Archive photo collection enabled by the GAN Foundation

Halberstam, Chaim B.

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As a bochur in yeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Boruch Halberstam worked in the home of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin. Having recently acquired a camera for personal recreational use, he managed to take a few photos of the goings on. On motzoei Yom Kippur 5729, Chaim Boruch discreetly snapped a photo during the seuda. The Rebbe noticed and sent a message through Rabbi Shalom B. Ganzburg to Rabbi Halberstam saying, “It’s enough if you take downstairs.” From this he understood that the Rebbe was giving him permission to take photos downstairs.

Though he did not know anything about photography, Rabbi Halberstam then began photographing the Rebbe in 770. When he was assigned the job of videotaping the broadcasted farbrengens in 5730, he increased in his photography as part of the archiving package.

Though previously the Rebbe had frequently objected or expressed discomfort with being photographed (though never with Rabbi Halberstam), with the passing of time, the Rebbe seemed to become more welcoming of it. Rabbi Halberstam began photographing people as they received a dollar or kos shel brocha from the Rebbe and was soon known as the official Dollars photographer.

Halberstam’s collection numbers nearly 1,000.000 photographs, with 70 percent taken at Dollars alone. Alternating between a few cameras, Halberstam was aided by Rabbi Avi Goldberger, who would empty the cameras of their film and reload them with fresh rolls. Halberstam employed the use of a messenger service to transport the films to a one-hour developer as soon as the films were completely used, and he had the newly developed prints sent to a storefront on the corner of Kingston Avenue and Union Street where they were made available for purchase to those who had been photographed.

Rabbi Halberstam’s collection comprised of Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides, as well as 35mm negatives, can be credited for aiding thousands in reliving their most precious moments with the Rebbe.

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