Paul Weinberg has owned Alden Films since 1984, which is a distributor of Jewish and Israeli films. Prior to that, he managed the Elmira Symphony and Choral Society, and produced concerts for the Queens Council on the Arts.
You Never Know (Film)
Shlomo Carlebach's career as the leading singer and songwriter of Orthodox Judaism spanned 40 years. He recorded more than 25 albums and performed in countless concerts, and his musical legacy continues even to this day. Carlebach was also an ordained rabbi with roots both in Misnaged (Lithuanian) Judaism at the Lakewood Yeshiva, as well as in Hasidic Judaism at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Brooklyn.
He combined this eclectic grounding in Orthodox Judaism to help disenchanted Jewish youth to re-embrace their Jewish heritage. This outreach, eventually known as the Baal Teshuva Movement, has had a wide and salutary effect on Jewish life today. In You Never Know, Shlomo Carlebach's life and religious influence are retold by his friends and followers.
It's Not In Heaven: The Comedy of Yisrael Campbell (Film)
a.k.a. Circumcise Me
Identity & Responsibility
How do you combine standup comedy, conversion to Orthodox Judaism (having previously converted to Reform and Conservative Judaism), and aliyah to Israel in one film? Easy! You watch Yisrael (a.k.a. "Chris") Campbell, formerly of Philadelphia and now a resident of Jerusalem, guide you on a journey filled with humor and genuine pathos, from his upbringing in the United States to his life today as a standup comedian living in Jerusalem.
Although a convert, Yisrael Campbell has a genuine Jewish "tam" (flavor, sensibility) to his take on the world, and particularly on the world of Israel today. His humor bridges the gap between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jew, and the American and Israeli Jew. Talking about everyday life in Israel— with its joys and tragedies—both reverently and humorously, and at the same time commenting on the underlying important concepts of Judaism, Campbell gives us a unique must-watch film about Judaism and Israel today.
Global Culture & History
The ancient city of Thessaloniki, now called Salonica, was the center of Greek Jewry for 500 years, until it was destroyed by the Germans in World War II. Paolo Polini's film, "Salonica," documents the remnants of the once strong community, showing the survivors of the Holocaust who returned, and the very few Jewish children still living in this formerly "Judeo-Greek" community, which is today a city totally cleansed of its Jewish life and character.
Until 1912, Salonica was part of the Ottoman Empire, with Jews constituting on e third of the population, and the other two thirds made up of Greeks, Turks, Slavs and other ethnic groups. The Jewish community, originally from Spain, maintained its distinct identity, speaking a Spanish Jewish dialect called Ladino. After the German takeover of 1941, aided by Greece's neighbors who like jackals plundered Jews' properties, the formerly cosmopolitan and open character of the city was replaced by a religio-nationalist policy, marking the Jews for eventual destruction and systematically marginalizing the Jewish community. After the War, when the small remnant of Greek Jewry returned to their homes, like much of Europe they were met with outright hostility. All traces of Greek Jewry were eliminated by the government. A prime example of this is the Jewish cemetery which today serves as the ground for Greece's second largest university.
"Salonica" shows the Jewish remnant which hearkens back to its tragic history and its eventual dissolution.
"No. 4 Street of Our Lady" (Film)
In 1939, the town of Sokal, Poland (now Ukraine) had 6,000 Jews. By 1945, there were only 30 survivors. Of this number, 16 were hidden in the hayloft and cellar of Franciska Halamajowa's house and barn, at No. 4 Street of Our Lady. What was extraordinary about this incredible act of heroism is that she hid them from the Germans and their collaborators for more than 2 1/2 years.
To do this required constant vigilance and work for Mrs. Halamajowa. She had to prepare enough food for all the people, but disguise it as animal feed. She also had to dispose of their human waste by mixing it with the waste of her pigs. In this film, survivors of No. 4 Street of Our Lady meet the grandchildren of Franciska Halamajowa and reminisce about her generosity and humanity in saving them from certain death.