Saratoga Jewish Community Arts presents a remarkable, poignant, and emotional documentary, Back to Berlin, by Catherine Lurie-Alt, with the generous grant support of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern NY and sponsorship from the Golub Corporation. This is a special kind of road trip movie using the biker genre to explore the legacy of the Holocaust. It follows 11 motorcyclists from Israel to Germany in 2015 as they recreate the mission of the original 1931 bikers who rode through Europe to recruit players for the 1932 Maccabi Games, the first Jewish Olympics on German soil. Flying the Israeli flag and carrying the Maccabiah torch from Athens to Berlin, they trace the horrifying events of the Holocaust through nine countries before triumphantly delivering the beacon to the German games.
Among the riders, nine Israeli and two Diaspora Jews, seven are the children of Holocaust survivors, two are grandsons of the first Maccabiah Riders, and two are Holocaust survivors themselves.
The juxtaposition of the present and past is the underlying thread of this “biker meets Holocaust” film, mixing archival footage with the 2015 journey. As insurgent populism and anti-Semitism once again rear their ugly heads, this film brings an important message through the voice of those who have been personally affected by one of the darkest pages in human history. However, this isn’t simply a “Jewish” story.
It is not only Jews who have are concerned about hatred and “othering” as armed guards stand by synagogues, not only in Europe but here in the United States. Along the Hungarian-Serbian border, the travelers meet hundreds of Syrian refugees who are separated by a barbed wire fence evoking concentration camps. Even more recently, immigrants are seen caged on southern borders of the U.S., genocide is on the horizon in Syria, etc. It is a timely reminder of what can happen when we still look at our fellow man as less deserving than us.
“This film is the story of people overcoming the worst from fellow man to restating our common humanity,” says Phyllis Wang, Coordinator of JCA. “There are those who think people should be insulated against such information, but they would be wrong, and for more reasons than just blissful ignorance.”Back to Berlin reschedule showing is December 8, 7PM, at Temple Sinai in Saratoga. Panel discussion and dessert reception to follow. A $5 donation is requested. For reservations or information, call 518-584-8730, option 2.