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April 27, 1984 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-04-27

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26 Riday, April 27, 1984


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Continued from preceding page

paranoid about Israel —
why we look at the world the
way we do."
Selected for the prestigi-
ous New Directors/New
Films Festival, Kaddish
premiered at Lincoln Cen-
ter's 57th Street Playhouse
this month and will go on to
general distribution and
public television. The film
chronicles five years in the
life of Yossi Klein, an in-
tensely angry young man
Whose entire world view
was shaped by an event that
took place before he was
born. His father, a Hunga-
rian Jew, survived the
Holocaust by digging a hole
in the ground, then hiding
in the make-shift bunker for
more than six months.
Unlike A Generation
Apart, Kaddish is a film
about the impact of the
Holocaust on Orthodox sur-
vivors and their children.
Reared in Brooklyn's Boro
Park, the largest Orthodox
survivor community in
America, Yossi describes a
childhood far removed from
that of typical American
children. While others were
playing cowboys and In-
dians, Yossi and his friends
were planning escape
routes through the Boro
Park sewer system, prepar-
ing for an invasion by
American Nazis that they
believed inevitable.
In his teens, Yossi became
a leading figure in the bud-
ding Soviet Jewry move-
ment of the late 1960s, and
took part in a dramatic
sit-in at the Soviet immi-
gration office in Moscow.
His father, who weaned him
on bed-time tales of the
Holocaust, consciously nur-
tured this fierce activism on
behalf of Jews.
Yet, through the five
years of his life we see
documented in the film,
Yossi also struggles to
understand what the
Holocaust means for hu-
manity as a whole. The film




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traces his evolution as he of public identity," says
wrestles with the terrible Greenwald. "Many of them
tension he feels between tried to conceal — from
universalistic impulses on themselves, their kids and
one hand and his fierce their neighbors — that they
Jewish particularism on the were survivors. For one
thing, they were still over-
Klein carries on that whelmed by the question,
struggle publicly today. "Why did I survive?" Often,
Readers of the Village Voice the only way for them to
and Moment magazine will deal with the Holocaust was
have the added dimension of to pretend it didn't exist."
Because of this, most
meeting on film a writer
whose messianic-tinged, children of survivors, like
personalized articles on Is- those in A Generation
rael appear regularly in Apart, grew up with only a
vague understanding of
those publications.
Like A Generation Apart, how their lives had been
Kaddish is filled with poig- shaped- by the experience of
naht encounters between their parents. They had
parent and child. During trouble connecting the .
the making of the film, the guilt, rage, pain and sad- •
elder Klein died and Yossi n,ess they felt to the
made aliyah to Israel. Says Holocaust.
Last spring, Greenwald
Brand: "On the one hand,
Kaddish mourns the deaths and the Fisher brothers
of Yossi's father and all vic- attended the American
tims of the Holocaust. At
the same time, it's a cele
bration of those who sur-
I wanted to make

a documentary
In a sense, the same could
be said of all three films — about the Jewish
they mourn the victims of capacity to
the Holocaust and celebrate
the survivors. Moreover, survive.
the films come at a time
when there is a growing
sense of pride and kinship Gathering of Holocaust
among children of sur- Survivors in Washington,
D.C. There, the hidden con-
For many, the turning nections became starkly
point in their awareness visible in an event that
came in 1977, when the New moved all three of them de-
York Times magazine pub- eply.
"It was beautiful to see
lished Helen Epstein's mov-
ing article on survivors' that the survivors had pride
children. In an effort to in who they were," says
understand her own iden- Danny Fisher, noting that
tity, Epstein tracked down some of them carried ban-
and interviewed hundreds ners that proclaimed "I sur-
of survivors' children. Her vived." "There was no
article was later expanded shame, only a beautiful
into the critically acclaimed sense of dignity."
At the gathering, the
book, Children of the
Fishers screened A Genera-
"Helen's book brought tion Apart for the first time.
many of us out of the closet," "The response was incredi-
says Danny Fisher. "Before ble," recalls Fisher. "Spon-
it, we had no idea what a taneously, people in the
collective experience we audience started sobbing
and children got up and em-
According to Fisher, his braced their parents. Later,
own awareness of the other survivors' children
Holocaust's impact on his told me that, after seeing
family life was unexplored the film, they went back to
terrain until then, locked their hotels and called their
away "like a dark, black box parents, often for the first
time in years."
deep inside me."
On May 27, that dialogue
"Another seminal event,"
he adds, "was the 1978 tele- will continue when hun-
vision series Holocaust. dreds of members of second
When we were children, the generation groups meet in
Holocaust was a taboo topic. New York for the First In-
It barely even warranted a ternational Conference of
of ,Jewish
paragraph in the history Children
textbooks. But, after the Holocaust Survivors.
show was aired, everywhere Copyright, Jewish Student
you went people were talk- Press Service, 1984.
ing about the Holocaust.
And I realized they were
talking about the experi- ORT to cite
ence of my own family. And NJ governor
I was proud."
New York — New Jersey
That same pride was
growing among the sur- . Governor Thomas H. Kean
vivors themselves, making will receive the American
possible open communica- ORT Federation Commu-
tion between them and their nity Achievement Award at
the Jewish organization's
children for the first time.
"It's only recently that presentation dinner Oct. 27
survivors have had any sort at the Princeton Hyatt.


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