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Film ‘Rosenwald’ recounts Jewish man’s contributions to civil rights era

Film ‘Rosenwald’ recounts Jewish man’s contributions to civil rights era

When it comes to audience endorsements, it’s more powerful and meaningful than a couple of thumbs up. After watching Aviva Kempner’s documentary “Rosenwald,” a young Jewish man told the filmmaker, “Now I know what I need to do with my life.” A woman said, “I learned more in this film than I ever learned about African-American history.” A third person noted there are films about slavery and the civil rights era but few bridging the two. “Rosenwald” does that in a graceful, inspirational manner as it tells the story of a man who never finished high school, became the president of Sears and gave away $62 million before his death in 1932. That is the equivalent of more than $1.1 billion today. JFilm and Hotel Indigo are presenting the 96-minute movie “Rosenwald” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday  and 3 p.m. next Sunday at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. Tickets through jfilmpgh.org are $10 in advance or $12 at the door, with students paying half-price. Julius Rosenwald was the son of Samuel Rosenwald, a German-Jewish immigrant who arrived in Baltimore with $20 in his pocket and became a peddler, first carrying his wares door to door and then hauling them by horse. His son, Julius, born Aug. 12, 1862, in Springfield, Ill., grew up across from the Abraham Lincoln family home. Although Julius never finished high school, he eventually became the president of Sears, where he took customer service, innovations and efficiency to new heights. Inspired by Booker T. Washington, Mr. Rosenwald helped to build more than 5,300 schools in the Jim Crow South. He also funded and supported... read more


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JFilm presents independent films from around the world to deepen both Jewish and general audiences’ understanding of Jewish culture, tolerance, and our common humanity. JFilm offerings attract those interested in international, independent and/or Jewish-themed films. A broad range of programming is designed to reach people of all races, religions, ages and abilities, and emphasis is placed on collaboration with other organizations. The organization was started 22 years ago by a community volunteer.