Archived Events

Book & Author Talks

Book Talk – Setsuko’s Secret: Heart Mountain and the Legacy of the Japanese American Incarceration

Jewish Museum Milwaukee November 1, 2022 1:43 pm

David Zucker, director of such classic off-the-wall comedies like Airplane!, The Naked Guns, and Scary Movies, discusses his recently published book, "Before the Invention of Smiling," described as part family history, part scrapbook, part autobiography and part Zucker’s “rantings.”

From as early as he could remember, growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1950s, David would listen as his grandmother, Sarah Zucker, would tell tales of her upbringing in a tiny village in turn-of-the-century Hungary. He was fascinated hearing of her escape overnight across the border, and journey to America. After moving to Los Angeles to establish his film career, David returned to Milwaukee for a weekend in 1976 to sit down with his grandmother, then 86, to record the whole story. It wasn’t until twenty years later, during post-production of Scary Movie 3, when he happened to review the transcript, that he was struck with the extent to which his own family’s journey had shaped who he was and influenced the career he had embarked on.

Like everything David Zucker does, Before the Invention of Smiling, throws out any previous notions and does not follow a traditional book format, resulting in a unique and original creation that combines Sarah’s story with accompanying family and contemporary period photographs. The book also features illustrations by award-winning artists Cynthia Angulo and Gary Thomas to complete the visualization of the family’s history. David’s original notion of attributing special value to “photolooms,” (objects appearing in old photographs) and incisive commentary by other family members add a colorful dimension to the storytelling. Of course, the author doesn’t hold back his often outrageous and unorthodox views on architecture, history, decorating, genealogy, and of course, a generous dose of Zucker humor!

David Zucker, director of such classic off-the-wall comedies like Airplane!, The Naked Guns, and Scary Movies, discusses his recently published book, "Before the Invention of Smiling," described as part family history, part scrapbook, part autobiography and part Zucker’s “rantings.”

From as early as he could remember, growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1950s, David would listen as his grandmother, Sarah Zucker, would tell tales of her upbringing in a tiny village in turn-of-the-century Hungary. He was fascinated hearing of her escape overnight across the border, and journey to America. After moving to Los Angeles to establish his film career, David returned to Milwaukee for a weekend in 1976 to sit down with his grandmother, then 86, to record the whole story. It wasn’t until twenty years later, during post-production of Scary Movie 3, when he happened to review the transcript, that he was struck with the extent to which his own family’s journey had shaped who he was and influenced the career he had embarked on.

Like everything David Zucker does, Before the Invention of Smiling, throws out any previous notions and does not follow a traditional book format, resulting in a unique and original creation that combines Sarah’s story with accompanying family and contemporary period photographs. The book also features illustrations by award-winning artists Cynthia Angulo and Gary Thomas to complete the visualization of the family’s history. David’s original notion of attributing special value to “photolooms,” (objects appearing in old photographs) and incisive commentary by other family members add a colorful dimension to the storytelling. Of course, the author doesn’t hold back his often outrageous and unorthodox views on architecture, history, decorating, genealogy, and of course, a generous dose of Zucker humor!

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Virtual Book Talk – Before the Invention of Smiling with David Zucker

Jewish Museum Milwaukee June 24, 2021 12:49 pm

In September 1941, a handful of isolationist senators set out to tarnish Hollywood for warmongering. The United States was largely divided on the possibility of entering the European War, yet the immigrant moguls in Hollywood were acutely aware of the conditions in Europe. After Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), the gloves came off. Warner Bros. released the first directly anti-Nazi film in 1939 with Confessions of a Nazi Spy. Other studios followed with such films as The Mortal Storm (MGM), Man Hunt (Fox), The Man I Married (Fox), and The Great Dictator (United Artists).

While these films represented a small percentage of Hollywood's output, senators took aim at the Jews in Hollywood who were supposedly “agitating us for war” and launched an investigation that resulted in Senate Resolution 152. The resolution was aimed at both radio and movies that "have been extensively used for propaganda purposes designed to influence the public mind in the direction of participation in the European War.” When the Senate approved a subcommittee to investigate the intentions of these films, studio bosses were ready and willing to stand up against the government to defend their beloved industry. What followed was a complete embarrassment of the United States Senate and a large victory for Hollywood as well as freedom of speech.

Author of 'Hollywood Hates Hitler! Jew-Baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures,' Chris Yogerst examines the years leading up to and through the Senate Investigation into Motion Picture War Propaganda, detailing the isolationist senators’ relationship with the America First movement.

In September 1941, a handful of isolationist senators set out to tarnish Hollywood for warmongering. The United States was largely divided on the possibility of entering the European War, yet the immigrant moguls in Hollywood were acutely aware of the conditions in Europe. After Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), the gloves came off. Warner Bros. released the first directly anti-Nazi film in 1939 with Confessions of a Nazi Spy. Other studios followed with such films as The Mortal Storm (MGM), Man Hunt (Fox), The Man I Married (Fox), and The Great Dictator (United Artists).

While these films represented a small percentage of Hollywood's output, senators took aim at the Jews in Hollywood who were supposedly “agitating us for war” and launched an investigation that resulted in Senate Resolution 152. The resolution was aimed at both radio and movies that "have been extensively used for propaganda purposes designed to influence the public mind in the direction of participation in the European War.” When the Senate approved a subcommittee to investigate the intentions of these films, studio bosses were ready and willing to stand up against the government to defend their beloved industry. What followed was a complete embarrassment of the United States Senate and a large victory for Hollywood as well as freedom of speech.

Author of 'Hollywood Hates Hitler! Jew-Baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures,' Chris Yogerst examines the years leading up to and through the Senate Investigation into Motion Picture War Propaganda, detailing the isolationist senators’ relationship with the America First movement.

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Virtual Book Talk - Hollywood Hates Hitler with Chris Yogerst

Jewish Museum Milwaukee May 13, 2021 12:41 pm

'Franci's War: A Woman's Story of Survival' is an engrossing memoir of a spirited and glamorous young fashion designer who survived World War ll, presented by her daughter, Helen Epstein. 

In the summer of 1942, twenty-two year-old Franci Rabinek–designated a Jew by the Nazi racial laws–arrived at Terezin, a concentration camp and ghetto forty miles north of her home in Prague. It would be the beginning of her three-year journey from Terezin to the Czech family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, to the slave labor camps in Hamburg, and Bergen Belsen. After liberation by the British in April 1945, she finally returned to Prague.

Franci was known in her group as the Prague dress designer who lied to Dr. Mengele at an Auschwitz selection, saying she was an electrician, an occupation that both endangered and saved her life. In this memoir, she offers her intense, candid, and sometimes funny account of those dark years, with the women prisoners in her tight-knit circle of friends.

___________________________________________________________________________
Helen Epstein (helenepstein.com) is a veteran journalist and author who has published ten books of non-fiction, including the trilogy Children of the Holocaust, Where She Came From, and The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma. Her annotated edition of her mother’s memoir Franci’s War has been published in nine countries. She lives in Massachusetts.

'Franci's War: A Woman's Story of Survival' is an engrossing memoir of a spirited and glamorous young fashion designer who survived World War ll, presented by her daughter, Helen Epstein.

In the summer of 1942, twenty-two year-old Franci Rabinek–designated a Jew by the Nazi racial laws–arrived at Terezin, a concentration camp and ghetto forty miles north of her home in Prague. It would be the beginning of her three-year journey from Terezin to the Czech family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, to the slave labor camps in Hamburg, and Bergen Belsen. After liberation by the British in April 1945, she finally returned to Prague.

Franci was known in her group as the Prague dress designer who lied to Dr. Mengele at an Auschwitz selection, saying she was an electrician, an occupation that both endangered and saved her life. In this memoir, she offers her intense, candid, and sometimes funny account of those dark years, with the women prisoners in her tight-knit circle of friends.

___________________________________________________________________________
Helen Epstein (helenepstein.com) is a veteran journalist and author who has published ten books of non-fiction, including the trilogy Children of the Holocaust, Where She Came From, and The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma. Her annotated edition of her mother’s memoir Franci’s War has been published in nine countries. She lives in Massachusetts.

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Virtual Book Talk - Franci's War, with Helen Epstein

Jewish Museum Milwaukee February 2, 2021 2:22 pm

Social Justice-Themed Events

Three years ago, neo-Nazis and white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, VA for a weekend of violence. This violence was no accident — rather, it was the result of months of planning. And it served as a harbinger of the cycle of extremist terror that has followed.

Integrity First for America (IFA), in partnership with a world-class legal team, is uniquely taking on the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups at the center of this violent movement, holding them accountable in federal court for the violence they brought to Charlottesville in 2017.

IFA’s lawsuit details how these extremists conspired online to orchestrate a weekend of violence, which resulted in Heather Heyer’s death and extensive injuries. It provides a tangible way to take action against the white supremacy and extremism that’s poisoning this country and has the potential to bankrupt and dismantle the leaders and hate groups at the center of this movement — which is key, given their disturbing connections to the broader cycle of violence.

Taking on, and taking down, these violent extremists is all the more critical as we see them try to exploit recent protests to spread disinformation, hate, fear, and violence.

Join IFA Executive Director Amy Spitalnick, attorney Michael Bloch, and Reggie Jackson, co-founder of Nurturing Diversity Partners, for an overview of this landmark case and the broader fight against white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of hate. The panel will be moderated by Hannah Rosenthal, former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, U.S. State Department; former President and CEO, Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

The program will begin with a screening of the short film, ‘Reawakening’, by Alexandra Horowitz in which rabbis and members of Charlottesville’s only synagogue voice responses to the 2017 Unite the Right rallies and discuss how the anti-Semitism they experienced transformed their community, including how it led them to become more involved in social justice, and the DC-based independent filmmaker’s comments about the project.

Three years ago, neo-Nazis and white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, VA for a weekend of violence. This violence was no accident — rather, it was the result of months of planning. And it served as a harbinger of the cycle of extremist terror that has followed.

Integrity First for America (IFA), in partnership with a world-class legal team, is uniquely taking on the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups at the center of this violent movement, holding them accountable in federal court for the violence they brought to Charlottesville in 2017.

IFA’s lawsuit details how these extremists conspired online to orchestrate a weekend of violence, which resulted in Heather Heyer’s death and extensive injuries. It provides a tangible way to take action against the white supremacy and extremism that’s poisoning this country and has the potential to bankrupt and dismantle the leaders and hate groups at the center of this movement — which is key, given their disturbing connections to the broader cycle of violence.

Taking on, and taking down, these violent extremists is all the more critical as we see them try to exploit recent protests to spread disinformation, hate, fear, and violence.

Join IFA Executive Director Amy Spitalnick, attorney Michael Bloch, and Reggie Jackson, co-founder of Nurturing Diversity Partners, for an overview of this landmark case and the broader fight against white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of hate. The panel will be moderated by Hannah Rosenthal, former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, U.S. State Department; former President and CEO, Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

The program will begin with a screening of the short film, ‘Reawakening’, by Alexandra Horowitz in which rabbis and members of Charlottesville’s only synagogue voice responses to the 2017 Unite the Right rallies and discuss how the anti-Semitism they experienced transformed their community, including how it led them to become more involved in social justice, and the DC-based independent filmmaker’s comments about the project.

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Virtual Panel - CRITICAL Conversation Starters: Charlottesville and the Case Against White Supremacy

Jewish Museum Milwaukee October 12, 2020 8:12 am

Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling

To Paint is to Live: The Artwork of Erich Lichtblau-Leskly

Stitching History From the Holocaust

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