New Blog: Through young immigrants’ eyes

There’s a new blog, Half-Remembered Stories, written by more than a dozen young Jewish immigrants, aged 16-25. If you have immigrant ancestors – don’t we all? – readers should relate to the words of these young people.

“I am up to my ears in bits and pieces. I am immersed in parts of my family’s story, in clues to follow-up on, in tales that must continue to be reinvented, imbued with life. But because there is so much, so much, so much time gone by and so much family I must consult …,” writes Hannah, one of 16 young Jews invited to blog for the New Jewish Filmmaking Project (NJFP).

The NJFP project is subtitled, “Emerging media from the borderlands of Jewish identity.”

For the past seven years, 50 young Jews (ages 16-25), have collaborated with a team of documentary filmmakers to create sophisticated, personal documentaries; 16 are blogging.

The NJFP project, sponsored by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF), also creates films about and co-directed by these new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Latino Jews and Jews of North African origin, who are “coming of age at the intersection of multiple ethnic and national identities.”

In July 2010, the projected multi-media exhibit will launch under the auspices of the SFJFF’s New Media Initiative.

It will be about lost people, lost places and the quest to reclaim lost memory, and will combine films, text, photographs and audio to show what it means to come of age on the border between Jewish identity and mainstream American life.

Some of the young bloggers are Adam, Alex, Ashley, Corey, David, Hannah, Jason, Klaira, Lee, Mayana, Samantha, Yelena, Yenny and Zoe.

Samantha writes, “The streets you resided in as a child stick with you for life. Your childhood home, so to speak, is where memories reside. I bet almost all of you reading this can remember the address, or at least the street name of the house where you began your life. For myself, and those around me … .”

“We’re all familiar with the timeless adage ‘write what you know,’ and it continues to guide writers both young and old. The NJFP has long offered a unique opportunity for young Jewish filmmakers to ‘film what they know,’ taking us on tours of their homes, histories, streets, and cities—exploring their fears, passions, and dreams….,” shares Lee.

See the videos here, including “Four Short Films About Love,” where a Latino-Jewish couple strolls through San Francisco’s Mission district, a triad of sisters laze on a sunny Sunday morning, four grandmothers face off at a Russian family dinner. It demonstrates how families come together and sometimes fall apart. The film won the 2004 Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Produced by documentary production company Citizen Film, the NJFP is a program of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival which provides showcase venues. More than 300,000 people have viewed the NFJP films through public television and exhibits in classrooms nationwide.

Tracing the Tribe thinks this project and exhibit will be of interest to help young people get involved with family history research. It would be an interesting exhibit for the upcoming international conferences on Jewish genealogy.

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