School Initiative to Combat Antisemitism

Hatred is hatred, no matter what language it speaks. And one of the world’s oldest hatreds—the hatred of Jews—has been speaking loudly of late. Antisemitic incidents have more than doubled nationwide over the past year. Hate crimes against Jews make up over half of all religious-based crimes.

At Boston Jewish Film, we watch this latest rise in antisemitism with alarm. And we’re ready to offer a reply.

Boston Jewish Film STUDIO - School Initiative to Combat AntisemitismThe Boston Jewish Film School Initiative to Combat Antisemitism (SITCA) uses the power of film to help students recognize and counter antisemitism. Our curators work with teachers to select a film best suited to their 7-12 grade students. Filmmakers and other relevant guests—including holocaust survivors—add valuable context. We provide preparatory materials to help promote meaningful conversation. The results are always the same: eyes are opened, and hearts and minds are changed.

The BJF School Initiative to Combat Antisemitism is intended for educators and department heads who want to address antisemitism aggressively and efficiently. Our condensed program requires minimal class time: educator prep, a film screening, and a post-screening conversation where students are active learners.  SITCA uses the narrative magic of film to educate and engage. Students connect to stories in movies that often feature people their own age. And through this connection, they learn how to respond to antisemitism, bigotry, and hate in their schools and communities and in the public square.

Launched in 2019, SITCA has presented at numerous regional public and private schools and sometimes their communities. We’ve made a difference. We believe we can make a similar difference with students in your school (district.)

Founded in 1989, Boston Jewish Film is New England’s largest film-based organization. We present three annual film festivals and a wide slate of educational and outreach programs.

SITCA Featured Films:

The Children of Chabannes
Runtime: 92 minutes
Languages: English, French (with English subtitles)

Synopsis: The Children of Chabannes is the story of how the people in the tiny French village of Chabannes chose action over indifference and risked their lives and livelihoods to save more than 400 Jewish refugee children during World War Il. Inspired by a reunion more than 50 years after the war, filmmakers Lisa Gossels and Dean Wetherell travel to Chabannes with Lisa’s father, Peter, and uncle Werner, two of the saved children. Integral to the Chabannes story is the extraordinary measures taken by the local teachers and townspeople who sheltered, nurtured, and educated the children and integrated them into the local school and community until it was no longer safe for them to be there. The Children of Chabannes is not just a story about the past; it explores moral courage and goodness in the face of evil – what motivates individuals to stand against injustice, bigotry, and extremism. The film embodies the ideals of progressive education: celebrating inclusion and embracing cultural and religious differences.

Recommended for grades 7-12.

The Crossing
Runtime: 96 minutes
Language: Norwegian (with English subtitles)

Synopsis: Gerda is a 10-year-old girl with a wooden sword, an apron cape, and a big imagination. It is World War II, and just before Christmas, her parents, who are part of the Norwegian resistance, are arrested. Gerda and her brother, Otto, are left alone, and she must transition her brave play-acting into reality. When the siblings discover two Jewish children, Sarah and Daniel, in their basement, they decide to finish what their parents started and bring their new friends to safety in Sweden. The four children set out across the Norwegian wilderness, facing danger, and learning true courage. An incredible story of friendship, bravery, and righteous acts for the whole family.

Recommended for grades 6-8.

Once in a Lifetime
Runtime: 105 minutes
Language: French (with English subtitles)

Synopsis: Based on a true story, Anne Gueguen (Ariane Ascaride), a dedicated history teacher at a French high school, is determined to give the best education she can to her underprivileged inner-city pupils. However, overcoming their apathy is proving to be more difficult than expected. Frustrated but undaunted, Anne tests her multicultural classroom with a unique assignment: a national competition on the theme of child victims of the Nazi concentration camps. The project is initially met with extreme resistance until a face-to-face encounter with a Holocaust survivor dramatically changes the students’ attitudes. Despite their long-shot odds of winning, these once-rebellious teens soon begin to see one another – and themselves – in a whole new light. Once In A Lifetime demonstrates the enduring impact of the Holocaust in transforming future generations.

Recommended for grades 9-12.

Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations
Runtime: 84 minutes
Language: English

Synopsis: Antisemitism in the US and Europe is rising and worsening in ways not seen since the 1930s. It comes in the forms of vandalism, social media abuse, assault, and murder. Like a virus, it mutates and evolves across cultures, borders, and ideologies, making it all but impossible to stop. Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations explores its infectious nature through four countries with firsthand accounts from victims, witnesses, and antisemites.

Recommended for grades 9-12.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Runtime: 120 minutes
Languages: German, Swiss-German, French (with English subtitles)

Synopsis: Nine-year-old Anna is too busy with school and playing with friends to notice Hitler’s face on posters plastered around Berlin. But when her father, a well-known Jewish journalist, suddenly vanishes, Anna realizes that everything is about to change. As Anna and her family set off on a courageous adventure full of fear and uncertainty, they must navigate unfamiliar lands, and cope with the challenges of being refugees. A gentle and beautifully rendered adaptation of Judith Kerr’s semi-autobiographical bestselling children’s novel by Oscar-winning filmmaker Caroline Link (Nowhere in Africa), When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit provides a moving perspective on the experiences of German Jews who fled before the war.

Recommended for grades 7-12.

Zaida (Short Film)
Runtime: 32 minutes
Language: English

Synopsis: Henri Parens escaped from the Holocaust at the age of twelve, and went on to become a globally recognized psychoanalyst, dedicating his life’s work to the prevention of prejudice. With her documentary ‘Zaida,’ his granddaughter celebrates her grandfather’s legacy and pleads with her own generation to continue his life’s work.

Recommended for grades 6-12.

What Our Partners Say:

GISB’s grade 7 students had the exciting opportunity to meet virtually this week with Riva Krymalowski, the 13-year-old lead actor in the German movie “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.” The 2019 film is based on the well-known youth novel by Judith Kerr and directed by Caroline Link. Riva, who attends 7th grade in Berlin, Germany, talked with our students about her experience on the set, the important historical background of the story, and her plans for the future.⁣
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⁣We would like to thank the German Consulate General Boston and the Boston Jewish Film Festival for making this inspiring intercontinental conversation possible and Rivia for taking the time to talk to our students.⁣

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