Silent no more
One city that rivals St. Louis for hot, humid, generally disgusting weather this time of year is Dallas, which is where the American Jewish Press Association held its annual three-day conference last week. We stayed at the Westin Galleria Dallas, north of downtown and adjacent to a high-end, three-story enclosed shopping mall, replete with giant ice rink.
For those familiar with Dallas, you know it’s sprawling. Other than the shopping mall, there was no place to walk. So for the better part of three days, most of us at the conference never went outside, save for a brief look at the outdoor swimming pool. And while you could argue that with daily temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, walking outside wasn’t much of an option, the alternative felt a little like house arrest.
The good news is that the conference offered some excellent sessions, ranging from trends in Jewish demographics and their impact on the Jewish media, to innovative ways of covering Israel, to building mobile strategies. But the standout for me was the screening of the new documentary “Standing Silent” and the ensuing discussion with the film’s producer/director Scott Rosenfelt.
“Standing Silent” chronicles Baltimore Jewish Times editor Phil Jacobs’ multi-year investigation to expose sexual molestation among predators — including prominent rabbis and Jewish leaders — within Baltimore’s insulated Orthodox community. Expecting to be supported, Jacobs, an observant Jew, is instead ostracized by a community that seems more interested in preventing public scrutiny than in uncovering the truth. Undeterred in his effort, Jacobs takes on the Orthodox establishment and wrestles his own past nightmares.
I’m reluctant to say more about this provocative film because my hope is that it will eventually play in St. Louis. Rosenfelt, who produced feature films such as “Mystic Pizza” and the original “Home Alone,” explained that while he had never made a documentary before, he did so because he “felt so strongly that this was a story that needed to be told. Phil’s courage and commitment were unfaltering.” To help finance the $200,000 film, Rosenfelt was awarded a Sundance Documentary Filmmaker Grant for $30,000.
Jacobs, by the way, is due to release a book, “The Ice Cream Man,” about his own childhood abuse. Perhaps it will be ready in time for the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival?
Saturday night date
If you’re a fan of Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu interested in seeing him perform live, read on. The Jewish Light is giving away 10 pairs of tickets to his concert this Saturday, July 9 at the Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. To qualify for the tickets, go to www.stljewishlight.com, click on the “Matisyahu” button and enter the drawing. On Friday, 10 lucky names will be drawn and tickets will be awarded.
Matisyahu, born Matthew Paul Miller, is an American Hasidic Jewish musician known for blending traditional Jewish themes with reggae, rock and hip hop beat-boxing sounds. His single, “King Without a Crown,” was a Top 40 hit in the United States.
Local reggae outfit Murder City Players will open the show, which begins at 8 p.m. Purchased tickets to the show go for $25 to $30.
This just in via e-mail
Have you heard about the new Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavors available only in Israel? They are Wailin’ Walnut, Moishmellow, Mazel Toffee, Chazalnut, Oy Ge-malt, Mi Ka-mocha, Soda & Gamorra, Bernard Malamint, Berry Pr’i Hagafen, Choc-Eilat Chip and finally (drum roll, please) Simchas T’Oreo. It should also be noted that all these flavors come in a Cohn.