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October 17, 2003 - Image 79

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

cent in a way that people one genera-
tion older had been," says Green.
As The Weather Underground makes
clear, the government's pursuit of war
in Vietnam and its attacks on the
Black Panthers — exemplified by the
murder of Fred Hampton by
Chicago police — reeked of fascism
to those on the left.
Green, who came of age at a time
when American youth was decidedly
apolitical, was attracted to men and
women of an earlier generation who
put their necks on the line for their
principles.
"I grew up in a household that was
very culturally Jewish," he says. "My
parents are nice liberal people in the
best sense of the word. My mother was
an antiwar activist and is still involved
in political stuff. We often argue about
politics. So my interest comes out of
that background."
Jewish moviegoers will detect the dis-
tinct spirit of tikkun olam, or repairing
the world, in Green's interviews with
former and current radicals in The
Weather Underground, most of who con-
tinue to work for eqimlity and justice.
Another quintessentially Jewish aspect
of the film is the questioning by the

years with her second stepfather. "That
was one bonding too many I was asked
to do, and it just didn't work."
In 1965, Slesin moved to Manhattan,
she said, "to start my grownup life in a
place with no history or baggage from
my family."
Because of her refugee experience, she
was "never a joiner," but she was a good
observer — which in part led her to
become a filmmaker.
Over the next 30 years, Slesin made
movies that were anything but personal,
whining the Oscar for her 1987 docu-
mentary, The Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit

and Legend of the Algonquin Round
Table.
The change came after she attended a
convention of hidden children in 1991;
two years later, she set off for Salenekas'
Kovno, Lithuania, home with a transla-
tor.
"I wanted to see if I could get some
memories or any kind of clues into my
character," she said. "I also wanted to
find out why she risked her life to save
me, but she just sighed a lot when I
asked her that. She wasn't really able to
answer."
Slesin hoped to learn more by
quizzing survivors who, like herself, had
been hidden by rescuers without appar-
ent ulterior motives.

Weathermen to this day of their own
accomplishments, and a painful recogni-
tion of their mistakes even as the Jewish
kids in SDS were uniquely and acutely
sensitive to the gulf between what
America stood for and its government's
actions.
"I grew up knowing there was us (the
Jews) and them (the Americans)," Rudd
writes. "One response as an outsider is
to be critical of the existing mores and
culture of the insiders.
"At Columbia, we tended to be intel-
lectuals, or at least have intellectual pre-
tensions. So we could easily see the con-
tradictions in the American pretensions
around freedom and democracy."

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"Her questions were penetrating," the
film's co-producer and writer, Toby
Appleton Ped, recalled. "Aviva was very
much driven by her need to understand
certain things about her experience."
During interviews, conducted in Israel
and Europe, Slesin said, she was deeply
touched by a Dutch woman who also
had been hidden as a small child. Erica
Polak recounted the "difficult relation-
ship" she had with her mother and the
great joy she had experienced upon
reuniting with her rescuer.
"She moved me enormously because
she had no memory either of this
woman, yet her feelings about her were
so strong," the director said. Interviews
like Polak's were revealing for Slesin.
"What I have come to understand is
that our rescuers were also our parents,"
she said. "When you are a child, the
people who feed you, protect you and
care for you in essence are your parents.
That explains why the bonds are so
emotional and lasting, even after more
than 50 years."



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79

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