Born in 5697 in Tel Aviv, Mr. Yossi Melamed began taking an interest in photography at age 16, when a friend taught him how to develop film. After serving in the IDF, he came to New York and worked for Rabbi Gershon Jacobson and the Algemeiner Journal. Yossi photographed events in the courts of Ger, Munkatch, Belz, Bobov, and Satmar, as well as visits to New York by Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi Kaduri, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, and others. There was, however, one place where he kept coming back more than anywhere else: 770. Mr. Melamed spent most of his time in Crown Heights, photographing farbrengens, yechiduyos, panim, lekach, kos shel brocha, Tzivos Hashem rallies, and the Rebbe’s biannual addresses to N’shei Ubnos Chabad. When a special contingent of soldiers who had been injured while serving in the IDF came to the Rebbe, Mr. Melamed was the only photographer present. He also photographed Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s visit to the Rebbe in 5737, the historic 5738 farbrengen on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, and many Chanukah Live events.
The artistry of Melamed’s photos is unique, and he worked to capture scenes that could tell a story, putting his heart and soul into his photos. He developed his black and white negatives on his own, while he sent his color films off to a lab for printing.Melamed stored his collection of 30,000 still films in his Boro Park apartment, the tale of a special relationship between the Rebbe and his photographer-Chossid hidden within the towering stacks of cardboard boxes that lay collecting dust. Shortly before his passing, he sold his collection to JEM’s Living Archive, and the staff immediately got to work retrieving them. Mr. Melamed passed away on 11 Iyar, 5772. In honor of the shloshim, JEM presented a gallery of Yossi’s photos to the general public. The hundreds of photos on display gave a glimpse of Mr. Melamed’s great contribution Mr. Melamed in preserving the memories of __ years with the Rebbe.