Morgan Elise Johnson
San Francisco Jewish 2016
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jewish fests in West Virginia, Palm Beach, Savannah, Atlanta, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Pittsburgh, Rochester, and Charlotte
A look at several small, struggling Jewish communities around America.
Outside of major urban centers known for their large Jewish populations like New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami, there are numerous small communities around the US that serve as home for approximately one million Jews. Lichtenstein and Johnson’s film explores four such off-the-beaten-track places, in Texas, Pennsylvania, Montana, and Alabama. In some cases, the Jewish community was once thriving but now is on the verge of vanishing altogether, with barely enough adult members to achieve minyan, or the official quorum needed to hold certain religious services. In other locations, forward-thinking synagogues have started programs to help grow their community by attracting Jews from outside of the state to relocate. While the film would have been stronger with a more focused profile on fewer communities, it remains an intriguing exploration of Jewish American identity, faith, and legacy.