SVC Presents “Rosenwald” with Filmmaker Aviva Kempner
Southern Vermont College will host filmmaker Aviva Kempner on Tuesday, November 15, at 7 p.m. at Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington for a community showing of her critically-acclaimed documentary, “Rosenwald.” The film tells the remarkable story of Sears Roebuck businessman/philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who in the early 1900s used his considerable wealth to build more than 5,000 schools to help African-Americans in the South. The screening will be followed by a brief talk by Kempner and opportunity for Q & A with the award-winning producer and director. The film and talk are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Kempner’s work is inspired by investigating non-stereotypical images of Jews in history and the untold stories of Jewish heroes. One of her most notable films is “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg,” a Peabody-winning and Emmy-nominated account of the Jewish slugger who fought anti-Semitism in the 1930s and 40s. She also conceived of and produced “Partisans of Vilna,” a documentary on Jewish resistance against the Nazis and produced and directed “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg,” a humorous and eye-opening story of television pioneer Gertrude Berg. “Hank Greenberg” grossed over $1.7 million at the box office while “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg” grossed over $1.2 million.
Kempner lives in Washington, DC, where she plays a prominent role in the artist and film community. She started the Washington Jewish Film Festival in 1990. She is also an activist for voting rights for the District of Columbia. Kempner is the child of a Holocaust survivor and US Army officer and was born in Berlin after WWII.
Kempner was intrigued by the story of Rosenwald, who never finished high school, but rose to become the President of Sears. Influenced by the writings of the educator Booker T. Washington, this Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African- American communities during the Jim Crow South to build over 5,300 schools during the early part of the 20th century. Inspired by the Jewish ideals of “tzedakah” (charity) and “tikkun olam” (repairing the world), and a deep concern over racial inequality in America, Rosenwald used his wealth to become one of America’s most effective philanthropists. Because he was a modest man, his philanthropy and social activism are not well known today.
“I greatly admire Rosenwald’s philanthropy,” Kempner said. “He gave away $62 million to various causes, which in today’s dollars is closer to $1 billion. At a time when financial hardships abound and civil rights issues unfortunately still exist, it is imperative that Julius Rosenwald’s story be told now. It is a vital part of the great story of Jewish and African-American partnership.” This film is provided by the National Center for Jewish Film, www.jewishfilm.org. The running time is approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes. Kempner’s visit to SVC will also include time spent with SVC Humanities students and members from the community and local Temple Beth El.
For more information, call Southern Vermont College’s Office of Communications at 802-447-6388/4041 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.