'The Jewish Journey: America'
(DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)
Overview: Narrated by Martha Teichner, the film follows the trajectory of Jewish American life from the earliest arrivals in the mid-17th century through the impact of the Nazi regime in World War II, the creation of Israel, and the new challenges of 21st century assimilation.
DVD Verdict: Well, this was another documentary that I thought would just simply be an hour in, reviewing, and nothing more - being British and "seemingly" aware of what was about to unfold, be told before me. Man, was I wrong, for 'The Jewish Journey: America' explores what it meant to be part of a tight-knit Jewish community. Moreover, what it meant to actually make the heartbreaking choice to leave family behind, whether for economic opportunity or to escape persecution.
I knew nothing, I will freely admit that, and so was totally blown away by the length and depth, the historical knowledge laid out by this incredible, heartbreaking (for the most part) documentary. I mean, the first hand, "second hand," and family interviews that they manage to group together are themselves, enough to have you reaching for a hankie!
'The Jewish Journey: America' features incredible archival photographs and footage to bring to life the personal stories of first to fourth generation Americans who took a leap of faith and made it to America however they could. And, aside from those noted first hand and "second hand" family encounter interviews, we also get interviews with top scholars in Jewish history and notable Jewish-American writers.
But it's, for me, and I can only assume you also, those many immigrants themselves detailing their varied stories of migration through the last five centuries; "revealing" an ever-changing "Old Country" (including South America, Europe, Russia, North Africa, and the Middle East), with a rarely-explored look at the actual journeys to get here, that had me at each and every turn.
I mean, at one point, Holocaust survivor, and master tailor Martin Greenfield, who was on the very last transport out of Auschwitz, offers one answer to the continually posed question of, Why?, when he quotes his father" "You survive, you honor us by living.” It is a statement that can be attributed to many groups who came to America.
Also among those interviewed in the film are two American-born rabbis whose own “Jewish Journey” took them from an assimilated household with no real roots in the rituals of the religion back to a life of observance.
Narrated by Emmy Award®-winning journalist Martha Teichner, basically put, 'The Jewish Journey: America' follows the trajectory of Jewish American life from the earliest arrivals in the mid-17th century through the impact of the Nazi regime in World War II, the creation of Israel, and the new challenges of 21st century assimilation. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:
Over 20 Minutes of Moving Bonus Interviews!