The Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society has received a grant from the National Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The proposal was written by 90-year-old board member, Elsie Fetterman. The grant will provide partial funding to produce a film entitled “Embracing America: Preserving the Stories of Holocaust Survivors and the United States Military Who Freed Them.” It will also provide for the creation of an electronic archive of the stories.
“The film will share a message of hope and resilience during one of the world’s darkest moments,” says Dr. David Fetterman, Elsie Fetterman’s son, who together with his wife Summer provided matching funds for the project.
David Fetterman grew up in Danielson and attended Hebrew school at Temple Beth Israel. The story is about what Beth Israel and the local community did to help the remnants of European Jewry in the aftermath of World War II, he says. It is the same story that unfolded in many American communities – both Christian and Jewish – who reached out to help Holocaust survivors make a new home.
One of many examples of ecumenical, nondenominational community support in the film involves a non-Jewish member of the community helping to raise money to build the synagogue by auctioning his calf.
“It is a story of generosity of spirit and kindness,” says Fetterman, formerly a professor at Stanford University and currently CEO of Fetterman Associates in San Jose, California. “This is the true spirit of Americans we hope to rekindle with the story – coming together to help the weak and the weary in spite of, if not because of, our differences. The Society Board of Directors believes in the power of this story to help Americans reaffirm their commitment to our great nation – it is a reminder of what we can all do when we work together.”
Founded by Holocaust survivors as well as local Jewish families, Temple Beth Israel is listed on both the Connecticut and National Registers of Historic Places.
The film, which will be produced by Amherst Media, will be distributed to 2,200 television stations nationally, as well as the History Channel and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.