Valley Jewish organizations to co-host April 17 Scottsdale event

Coming on the heels of Scottsdale Community College’s fourth Annual Genocide Awareness Week, “Surviving Skokie” will have its Arizona premiere at a community event sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, Bureau of Jewish Education, Phoenix Holocaust Survivors’ Association, and Generations After.

The event is to be at 3 p.m. on April 17, at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Center in Scottsdale.

Director Eli Adler’s deeply personal film follows the path of his father, Jack, a Polish immigrant and concentration camp survivor who tried to rebuild his post-World War II life in the film’s titular Midwest city. Capturing a dark and ugly time in America’s past, the film is the story of a father who didn’t want to remember his haunted past until something so awful forced his hand and a filmmaker son who wanted to understand what made his father stay silent for so long, according to a press release.

Jack Adler’s entire family died in the Holocaust, and after being liberated, he found his way to Skokie, Ill. Almost 7,000 Holocaust survivors — the largest concentration of survivors in the United States at the time — made over their lives in this small Chicago suburb. These men and women came to America to put the tragic past behind them. For decades they kept the awful memories secret, even from their families. But in 1977, when a group of neo-Nazi members led by Frank Collin (ironically himself the son of a Jewish Holocaust survivor) threatened to march through their town “because that is where the Jews are” – the survivors broke their silence.

“The co-director and I made this film to not only honor my father, but to honor all survivors,” stated Eli Adler in the release. “We believe its message of speaking out against intolerance in all forms is as pertinent today as it was in 1977.”

The death in February of outspoken Valley resident Helen Handler, a Holocaust survivor who shared her personal experiences with thousands of people, silenced one more voice. The film looks at the significance and longer-term impacts of that tumultuous episode, especially from the perspective of Holocaust survivors.

“Here in Greater Phoenix, we have quite a large number of Jews from the Skokie-Chicago area, including Holocaust survivors and their descendants, for whom this film will be of keen interest,” stated Janice Friebaum, director of Generations After, in the release. “As it demonstrates inspiring examples of courage and catharsis in the face of hate and bullying.”

The film, which has been playing to sold-out film festival crowd nationwide, highlights the many citizens of Skokie who stood up to Collin and his band of anti-Semitic followers; Catholics and Protestants, civic and religious leaders, and World War II veterans of all ages courageously rose up against the voices and gestures of hate.

Both Eli and Jack Handler will be present to introduce the film and participate in a post- film discussion with the audience. To order advance tickets, visit www.phoenixhsa.org or call 480-792-6736.

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