Other Roles: Director, Producer
Organization: Next Chapter Productions
With over 30 years of experience as a Jewish educator and administrator, in 2019 my sister Naomi Stein and I created Next Chapter Productions. We are currently working on our first documentary film, Life in Reverse. The film is about German memory work, the struggle to overcome a violent legacy, and the difficult path toward reconciliation.
I have spent 18 years in Jewish high school education, taught adults in a variety of educational and communal settings, and founded a pluralistic Jewish Day School in the city of Chicago. With a PhD in religion, I have long been interested in our sources of inspiration, the language we use, the relationships and ideas that shape us, and the ways we make meaning of our lives. I am moved by the stories traditions tell and the ways we continue to live with and challenge ancient tales. In my new chapter, I return to the power of film to tell stories and educate. In 1995 I co-produced and directed an award-winning documentary, Eugene, which tells the story of a boy born with cerebral palsy and the community and technology which helped him celebrate his Bar Mitzvah. As a filmmaker, I love the collaborative nature of the project, the team effort required to explore the richness of people’s stories.
Life in Reverse (2021)
Role: Independent Filmmaker
Prominent Jewish scholar Ismar Schorsch fled Germany in 1938. Decades later, residents from his family’s hometown of Esslingen invite him back, restoring relations brutally severed by the Holocaust. In 2019 Germany awards Ismar its highest civilian honor. What made Ismar’s reconciliation possible?
Through Ismar’s story, Life in Reverse reveals the courageous efforts of non-Jewish Germans to face the violent legacy they inherited. Their difficult memory work has broad implications beyond Germany. The struggle with their brutal past will serve as a model, particularly for America, as we have barely begun to memorialize the victims of our cruel history.
Ismar’s humane spirit and devotion to historical knowledge as a path to redemption inspires as we consider the role of memory and truth-telling in building a just society.
Life in Reverse is a film about honest confrontation with a painful history and the uncertain journey from destruction to reconciliation.