From a Restored Synagogue in Lithuania to the Big Screen in Tel Aviv
Documentary about Yiddish Poet and Partisan Fighter Screened for International Holocaust Remembrance Day
(Amherst, MA) January 23, 2023—The film VER VET BLAYBN? (WHO WILL REMAIN?), about Yiddish poet Avrom Sutzkever, will be screening in both a recently restored Pakroujis synagogue in northern Lithuania and a Tel Aviv Cinematheque in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, January 27.
The award-winning documentary, a production of the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, features Sutzkever’s granddaughter, Israeli actress Hadas Kalderon, as she travels to Lithuania using Sutzkever’s diary to trace his early life in Vilna and his survival of the Holocaust.
“These two screenings are symbolically meaningful, echoing the trajectory of Sutzkever’s life from Lithuania to Tel Aviv, as well as his descendants’ journey back as represented in the film,” said Emily Felder, co-director and editor of the film.
Sutzkever (1913–2010) was an acclaimed Yiddish poet—described by the New York Times as the “greatest poet of the Holocaust”—whose verse drew from his youth in Siberia and Vilna, his spiritual and material resistance during World War II, and his postwar life in the State of Israel.
Kalderon, whose native language is Hebrew, relies on Hebrew translations of her grandfather’s work and is determined to connect with what remains of his bygone world and confront her personal responsibility of preserving her grandfather’s literary legacy. Woven into the documentary are family home videos, newly recorded interviews, and archival recordings, including Sutzkever’s testimony at the Nuremberg trials.
Recitation of Sutzkever’s poetry and his personal reflections on resisting Nazi forces as a partisan fighter reveal how Sutzkever tried to make sense of the Holocaust and its aftermath. As Kalderon strives to reconstruct the stories told by her grandfather, the film examines the limits of language, geography, and time.
The Pakroujis Synagogue, originally built in 1801, is one of just a few wooden synagogues that survives to this day. Restored in 2017, it features rare painted depictions of animals and trees that date back to around 1900. It was previously used as a cinema in the 1970s in then Soviet Lithuania.
Open since 1973, the Tel Aviv Cinematheque is one of the premier cinemas in Israel, with over 1,500 films screened each year, and host to several film festivals. It was also where VER VET BLAYBN? (WHO WILL REMAIN?) had its cinematic premiere, in April 2022.
“These locations are important in Jewish history, and they are personally meaningful, too, representing the city (Tel Aviv) where I met Hadas and the idea for the film was born, and northern Lithuania, near where my own family comes from and where Emily and I toured last summer with the film,” said Christa Whitney, co-director and producer of the film and of the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project.
Watch the trailer: yiddishbookcenter.org/whowillremainfilm
This film is in Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, and English with subtitles in Lithuanian for the Lithuanian screening and Hebrew and English for the Israeli screening. Running time: 57 minutes.
Program: Special screening of Ver Vet Blaybn? (Who Will Remain?),
an award-winning documentary film about Avrom Sutzkever,
in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Event in Pakroujis, Lithuania:
When: Friday, January 27, 2023, 2:00 p.m. (EEST)
Where: Pakruojo Sinagogue Community Center
Krantz g. 8
Lt 83150 Pakruojis, Lithuania
or via the office: +370 670 85612
Event in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel:
When: Friday, January 27, 2023, 2:00 p.m. (IST)
Where: Cinematheque TLV
KHaArba’a St 5
Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
or via the office: +972 360 60 800
Cost: ₪40 or free for cinema members
The Antonio Ripoll Award for Best Editing (of a feature film) at the St. Andrews Film Festival
Best Documentary Film Editing for a Featurette at the Madrid International Independent Film Festival (Spain)
Best Documentary at the MELECH Tel Aviv International Film Festival
Best Documentary at the Switzerland International Film Festival
Best International Documentary for the Northern London Documentary Film Festival
About the Filmmakers
Originally from Northern California, Christa P. Whitney (producer and co-director) discovered Yiddish while studying comparative literature at Smith College. She has studied Yiddish language at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, the Workmen’s Circle, and the Yiddish Book Center. For the past dozen years, she has directed the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, traveling near and far recording oral history interviews, managing a video archive, and producing documentary films and web features about all aspects of Yiddish language and culture.
Emily Felder (editor and co-director) is a documentary film editor whose work has been screened in museums, libraries, and schools across the country. She studied anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she became invested in archaeology, visual ethnography, and nonfiction storytelling. She worked as the premier technical assistant for the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project and as an assistant editor at Florentine Films/Hott Productions on feature-length documentaries broadcast on PBS. She is now an editor and videographer based in Los Angeles, where she continues to make films.
About the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project
The Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project is a growing collection of more than 1,000 in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture offer a rich and complex chronicle of Jewish identity. Learn more about and explore the Wexler Oral History Project collection.
For more information about the Wexler Oral History Project, an initiative of the Yiddish Book Center, please contact Christa Whitney, Wexler Oral History Project director, at [email protected] or 413.256.4900 x145.
About the Yiddish Book Center
The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture.
The million Yiddish books recovered by the Yiddish Book Center represent Jews’ first sustained literary and cultural encounter with the modern world. They are a window onto the past thousand years of Jewish history, a precursor of modern Jewish writing in English, Hebrew, and other languages, and a springboard for new creativity. Since its founding in 1980, the Center has launched a wide range of bibliographic, educational, and cultural programs to share these treasures with the wider world. Visit YiddishBookCenter.org to learn more.
For more information contact the Yiddish Book Center’s Director of Communications & Marketing, Rebecka McDougall, at [email protected] or 413.256.4900 x118.