Who speaks for Jews today? How wide are the boundaries of pluralism? In this thought-provoking personal essay, Berkeley-based filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman (Blacks and Jews, SFJFF 1997) embark on an intimate, far-ranging exploration of the ideological fissures running through contemporary Jewish life. Snitow and Kaufman (the latter founding director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival from 1980 to 1993) turn their searching questions and camera on some recent flashpoints in American Jewish identity, from campus debates over divestment from Israel to the explosive controversy stemming from SFJFF’s 2009 screening of the film Rachel. They interview a cross-section of Jewish leaders and activists in an attempt to better understand what Jewish engagement means today and, in particular, to measure the imprint of Israel—its politics and culture—on young Jews. In stimulating personal perspectives, the directors reveal their own fraught and touching family histories—Kaufman the daughter of an esteemed poet-translator and an ardent Zionist; Snitow the son of a left-wing activist with secrets—as they search for clues about how Jewish identity is transmitted and how each generation reshapes, reclaims or rejects its parents’ definition of community values.
Producer, director, writer Deborah Kaufman was Founder and Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the first, largest, and most prestigious Jewish film showcase in the world. She has been a programmer and board member of the multicultural Living Room Festival of Bay Area public television station KQED. She organized numerous seminars on Black/Jewish relations and ethnic stereotypes in film as well as film programs on intergroup relations. She has produced numerous short videos and a music video. She has been a consultant for film and video productions and a board member for multicultural arts and video organizations, including the Los Angeles Festival.,