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Brief Documentary on the Shoah Takes a Journey to the United Nations

January 28, 2010 By:
Aaron Passman, JE Feature
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At the United Nations in New York, Sara Keisler Greenberg is flanked by her grandparents, Reli and Joseph Gringlas, the subjects of her short film. Photo by Matthew Heineman

Sara Keisler Greenberg's first film, all of 12 minutes, might be called "The Little Class Project That Could -- and Did -- Make It All the Way to the United Nations."

The 22-year-old from Gladwyne is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and a recent graduate of Yale University. Last spring, as a senior, she opted to make a film rather than write a final paper for her "Family in the Jewish Tradition" course, taught by "Dr. Ruth" Westheimer, among other educators.

The result, "B-2247: A Granddaughter's Understanding," was culled from her grandparents' interviews with the Shoah Foundation, independent interviews that Greenberg and her siblings conducted, and footage from a 2005 family trip through Eastern Europe, revisiting the locales of her grandparents' childhoods.

Her grandfather, Joseph Gringlas, was born in Poland, and is a survivor of several concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Her grandmother, Reli Gringlas, was born in Slovakia, and was hidden there during the war.

The film takes its name from the number tattooed on her grandfather's left arm.

A portion of Greenberg's film was screened at the United Nations on Monday as part of its 2010 International Day of Commemoration.

This year's theme was "The Legacy of Survival."

Greenberg's work and family were both honored to mark the opening of an exhibit titled "Generations: Survival and the Legacy of Hope." She spoke at the U.N. event, as did her mother, Marcy Gringlas, and her grandparents.

Greenberg, whose family are members at Congregation Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley, where she became a Bat Mitzvah, observed that "there's a quote in my film, and my grandfather reiterated this [at the United Nations], that this type of genocide is still going on in the world today. It's really important that we use the events of the past to teach and apply them to the present in order to prevent these types of things from continuing to happen."

"B2247: A Granddaughter's Understanding" will screen in Philadelphia on Saturday night, May 1, as part of the Jewish Film Festival at the Gershman Y. The young documentarian plans to be on hand to answer questions. 

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