Co-Sponsored by Craig Harrison and the John and Marcia Goldman Family Foundation.
There Are Jews Here is a quirky and poignant documentary that examines the challenges of Jewish life in small-town America. Focusing on four tiny Jewish communities, directors Brad Lichtenstein and Morgan Elise Johnson show in intimate detail what happens to a congregation when there are scarcely enough Jews left to form a minyan (the quorum of ten Jewish adults required for certain religious obligations), much less to maintain a vibrant Jewish community. Taking us to Latrobe, Pennsylvania; Dothan, Alabama; Laredo, Texas; and Butte, Montana, the filmmakers explore the slow death of small towns across the United States and use the Jewish communities of these towns, sometimes numbering as few as ten people, as a kind of allegory of displacement and anomie in society as a whole. The leader of the Laredo synagogue struggles with his son’s performance in a Christmas pageant, and, in an odd experiment in Dothan, an eccentric Jewish millionaire offers families $50,000 to relocate to the town in an effort to reverse the dwindling of its Jewish population. Of course, Jews in America today leave small towns voluntarily in order to join larger communities, so the effect of the film is less tragic than bittersweet. But the film offers an unusual and intriguing look at a segment of American Jewish life that is rarely examined.
Director Brad Lichtenstein in person in San Francisco and Berkeley