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Greenberg Center Program to Explore “Yiddish Film in the Aftermath of the Holocaust”


Posted 11/22/2011
Posted by David Isgur

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The University of Hartford's Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies will continue its 25th anniversary celebration with its annual Yiddish film lecture, sponsored by the Waltman Family Fund in honor of the 100th birthday of the late David Waltman. The topic of this year’s program will be “Yiddish Film in the Aftermath of the Holocaust,” featuring a lecture by the University of Hartford’s Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History Avinoam Patt, and clips from Lang iz der Veg (Long is the Road), 1949 and Unzere Kinder (Our Children), 1948, the first movies to represent the Holocaust after World War II. The program will take place in Mali I auditorium in Dana Hall at the University of Hartford, at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4. The film screening is free and open to the public.

Patt’s lecture will examine the role of Holocaust survivors in creating the first cinematic representations of the Holocaust, examine the reasons why these films have remained largely unseen for more than 60 years, and discuss how representations of the Holocaust on film have evolved since World War II.  The lecture will also feature clips from both films.

Written by Israel Becker, Lang iz der Weg is the first feature film to represent the Holocaust from a Jewish perspective. Shot on location at the Landsberg Displaced Persons camp, the largest DP camp in U.S.-occupied Germany, the film follows a Polish Jew and his family from pre-war Warsaw through Auschwitz and the DP camps. The young hero (played by Israel Becker) is deported in the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, jumps an Auschwitz-bound transport to take his chances in the countryside, and ultimately survives the war with a band of Jewish partisans to search for his family in the ruins of liberated Poland.

Unzere Kinder, which would be Poland’s last Yiddish feature film, stars the comedy duo Szymon Dzigan and Israel Shumacher who had recently returned from the Soviet Union, and focuses on their encounter with Jewish children who had survived the Holocaust (played by actual young Holocaust survivors).  Directed on location by Nathan Gross and Shaul Goskind at the Helenowek Colony, an orphanage/school near Lodz supported by the AJDC, this film includes rare footage of the Yiddish comedy stars playing all the characters in Sholem Aleichem’s Kasrilevke Brent (Kasrilevke is Burning), as well as a remarkable exchange of roles where the two actors become the children’s audience, as the children teach the adults about the healing possibilities of music, dance and storytelling.

For further information on the exciting programming planned for the Greenberg Center’s 25th anniversary year, please visit the Greenberg Center or call 860.768.4964 or write mgcjs@hartford.edu.

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