Return to Calais is a short documentary film linking refugees past and present. In 1940, Paulette Szafran was a Belgian-Jewish teenager who fled the Nazi invasion of Brussels. She crossed into France and arrived as far as Calais, where her family found temporary shelter during the catastrophic bombing. After the siege of Calais, the family was compelled to return to Belgium, where Paulette spent the war years in hiding. In 2018, after Paulette died, her daughter Edith Goldenhar embarked on a journey to retrace her mother’s exodus using her vivid wartime diary as a guide. In Calais, she met with today’s refugees and with Care4Calais volunteers, showing how empathy connects the dots of displacement across geography and generations. (more…)
Eva Zelig‘s documentary An Unknown Country tells the story of European Jews who fled Nazi persecution to find refuge in an unlikely destination: Ecuador. This small South American country, barely known at the time, took them in when most had closed their doors. Featuring first hand accounts, family photos and archival material, the film opens a window on the exiles’ perilous escape and difficult adjustment as they remade their lives in what was for them an exotic, unfamiliar land. (more…)
There are few figures in world history like Hannah Senesh. Possessed at a young age by the mission to save the Jewish people, she was an ardent Zionist who moved to Palestine to help establish a Jewish homeland. Then, in the midst of the Nazi genocide in Europe she volunteered to parachute into Yugoslavia en route to Hungary in an effort to warn and rescue Hungary’s Jews. Today she is remembered and revered in Israel — the land she helped build. Her poem “Eli, Eli” was set to music, and is widely known. This program will include a screening of Roberta Grossman‘s Blessed is the Match about Hannah’s life and action. Then meet the filmmaker who will be in dialogue with historians Dr. Michael Berenbaum and Dr. Mordecai Paldiel. Also joining the program will be the Israeli pop singer Avaya to speak about what Hannah Senesh means to her. A story everyone should know! (more…)
Caught within the ever-approaching steel jaws of Nazi exterminators, 19-year-old Leah Steppel from Dusseldorf successfully escapes Europe via Portugal — thanks to a precious visa from Aristides de Sousa Mendes. More than seven decades later, her daughter Rebecca Barber retraces Leah’s footsteps to freedom. (more…)
The Rosenstrasse Protest is the nearly-forgotten story of a group of women in Berlin who faced down the Third Reich — and won! In February of 1943, several hundred non-Jewish wives of Jewish men faced down Hitler’s genocidal policy and the SS to secure the release of their captured husbands. Nathan Stoltzfus is the world’s expert on this history, and he will be in dialogue with historian Mordecai Paldiel as well as Ruth Wiseman, whose family lived this story. (more…)
Billionaire activist George Soros is one of the most influential and controversial figures of our time. Famous for betting against the Bank of England in 1992 and making a billion dollars in one day, he is maligned by ideologues on both the left and the right for daring to tackle the world’s problems and putting his money behind his fight – from free elections and freedom of the press to civil rights for minorities. With unprecedented access to the man and his inner circle, filmmaker Jesse Dylan, the son of music icon Bob Dylan, follows Soros across the globe and pulls back the curtain on his personal history, private wealth, and public activism. The resulting filmed portrait reveals a complicated genius whose experience as a Jew during the Holocaust gave rise to a lifelong crusade against authoritarianism and hate. (more…)
In 1940, a ship called the S.S. Quanza left the port of Lisbon carrying several hundred Jewish refugees to freedom. Most of them held life-saving visas issued by the Holocaust rescuer Aristides de Sousa Mendes. But events went terribly wrong, and the passengers became trapped on the ship when no country would accept them. Nobody Wants Us tells the gripping true story of how Eleanor Roosevelt stepped in to save the passengers on board. Other heroes of the Quanza were the lawyers Jacob and Sallie Morewitz and members of the National Council of Jewish Women. This is an episode in American history that everyone should know!
In 1943, during the darkest times of human history, a handful of people in tiny Bulgaria stood up against Hitler… and succeeded. This is a true story about the remarkable rescue of 49,172 people — the entire Jewish population of Bulgaria. Plamen Petkov‘s documentary film 49,172 tells the story.
(Please note: Daylight Savings Time in the United States)
“We Jews don’t have saints, but we do have tzaddikim, righteous people, people of tzedek, of justice. Perhaps the word could also be translated as ‘decency.’”
– Zuzana Růžičková, Holocaust survivor, speaking about Fredy Hirsch
Hava Nagila (The Movie) is a documentary romp through the history, mystery and meaning of the great Jewish standard. Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Leonard Nimoy, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Regina Spektor and more, the film follows the ubiquitous party song on its fascinating journey from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the kibbutzim of Palestine to the cul-de-sacs of America. High on fun and entertainment, Hava Nagila (The Movie) is also surprisingly profound, tapping into universal themes about the importance of joy, the power of music and the resilient spirit of a people.
“When you find a song that says ‘Let us rejoice,’ there’s no better song to leave an evening with. Hava Nagila tells us who we should be and what we, in a fundamental sense, aspire to be – peoples of love and joy and peace.” – Harry Belafonte