Saturday, MARCH 1, 2007, 7 PM
Track 16 Gallery presents the
SCREENING OF THREE
PBS DOCUMENTARIES RELATED
TO JUDAISM IN POLAND TODAY:
A Torah Returns to Poland
Klezmer Musicians Travel “Home” to Krakow
From Kristallnacht to Crystal Day: A Synagogue in Wroclaw Glows Again
In conjunction with the CYRK Polish poster exhibition on view from February 17 to March 10, 2007, Track 16 Gallery presents three half-hour documentaries related to current Jewish life and issues in Poland. The films will be screened on Thursday, March 1, at 7 PM, and admission is free of charge. Please call the gallery to reserve a seat. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 6 P.M.
A Torah Returns to Poland (2006), narrated by Theodore Bikel, traces the journey of a Torah that had its origins in Alsace, France in 1876. Nourishing its healthy Jewish population for decades, World War II tragically altered its fate. When the Alsatian Jewish community was deported to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz built in Poland by the German army, they brought their Torah with them; it was found in tact in Poland after the war, a survivor of the Holocaust that had consumed almost all of the community it had once served. From the ruins, the Torah somehow found its way to New York's Lower East Side. There it was obtained by the Manhattan family of Harley and Marie Lippman who brought it full circle back to Poland in June 2005, contributing it to the Polish Jewish community in honor of their daughter's Bat Mitzvah, a Jewish ceremony celebrated when a child turns 13. This is a story that celebrates the continuity of Jewish life, manifested by the survival of the Torah and the rebirth of Jewish life in Poland today. This documentary’s Israeli premiere was held in January 2007 at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque and received much acclaim.
Klezmer Musicians Travel “Home” to Krakow (2004), also narrated by Bikel, intersperses traditional and nouveau-Klezmer music with introspective thoughts and feelings of some of today’s greatest Klezmer-style musicians examining why they return annually to the Krakow Jewish Cultural Festival. The documentary is book ended by an old Yiddish folktale that flavorfully sets forth the theme of Krakow as a destination for a treasure trove of Jewish history and culture.
Some of the great musicians featured in the documentary include:
Michael Alpert, David Krakauer, Andy Statman, Frank London, Cantor Benzion Miller, Sophie Solomon, Leopold Kozlowski, Steven Greenman, and Paul Brody.
From Kristallnacht to Crystal Day: A Synagogue in Wroclaw Glows Again (2001), narrated by Nina Siemaszko, looks at the cycle of a community’s destruction to rebirth through the eyes of the White Stork Synagogue. Located in what is today Wroclaw, Poland and was Breslau, Germany before World War II reconfigured the borders of Europe, the White Stork Synagogue was founded in 1829. On Kristallnacht (“night of broken glass”), November 9, 1938, the house of worship was ransacked by the Nazis. Exactly 60 years later, a ceremony was held at the White Stork Synagogue to commemorate Kristallnacht and simultaneously celebrate the reclamation and renovation of the building as well as the rejuvenation of Jewish life in Wroclaw.
All three documentaries were produced by JEMGLO, a NJ-based nonprofit multimedia company producing documentaries for PBS and educational institutions about global Jewish culture-related subjects.
The principals of JEM/GLO are director / cinematographer / editor Curt Fissel and producer / writer Ellen Friedland, who are also the principals of the NJ-headquartered commercial video company Voices & Visions Productions, Ltd. Curt and Ellen have devoted their time over the past decade to JEMGLO and Voices & Visions, and they have earned numerous Telly (silver, bronze, and finalist), Summit, Aurora, and Communicator Awards. While much of their JEMGLO work has been devoted to today’s Polish Jewish community (where they were married in 2000), they have also produced documentaries on other subjects, including the Swiss self-examination about the wartime issues of refugees, dormant bank accounts and Nazi gold as well as Kosovar Albanian immigrants to the US who fled from genocide. They are currently in production on a documentary in Uganda. Prior to their involvement with these companies, Curt was the chief photographer at NJN (NJ’s PBS station) for 18 years, where he was involved in the production of dozens of documentaries. He has received Emmy nominations, a Cine Golden Eagle, and numerous journalism awards, and he has freelanced for stations such as YES Network, HBO, ABC Nightline, CBS, The Voice of America, CNN, and the Outdoor Life Network. Ellen began her career as an attorney, and then became a print journalist. She continues to write stories for a number of publications, has had her poetry exhibited, and has been the recipient of an award from the NJ Press Association.