Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Judy Feld Carr - a Documentary in the Making

I received this from Targum Shlishi (http://www.targumshlishi.org/) a philanthropic foundation that has done wonderful work in the Jewish world. The back story to this exciting announcement is that the documentary grew out of Judy's visit here last year, when her story was heard by Susan Berger Sabreen, a multiple Emmy-winning television producer/director - and TBE member! We are very proud of the small role we at TBE is playing in this upcoming film - and Passover is the perfect time to recount Judy's story (especially with so much happening in Syria now). Read below, and also read what I wrote about her visit last year.


April 12, 2011 – The largest rescue of Jews by an individual since World War II was the rescue of over three thousand Syrian Jews from out of virtual bondage in Syria, a country that was extremely oppressive toward Jews. The rescue, which took place from from the mid-1970s until 2001, was accomplished in secrecy by a Canadian grandmother with no particular connections or resources. Over the course of almost thirty years, Judy Feld Carr bribed, ransomed, and smuggled Syria’s Jews to safety. The rescue was the best-kept secret in the Jewish world.

A documentary film, Mrs. Judy’s Secret, is in the works and will tell Feld Carr’s remarkable story for the first time – how she virtually single-handedly negotiated bribes with officials in the Syrian government, created her own smuggling ring for those who could not be ransomed, and one by one, took 3,228 Jews out of Syria to freedom. Not one was caught or killed.

Judy Feld Carr kept meticulous records and has agreed to grant the filmmakers of Mrs. Judy’s Secret unprecedented and exclusive access and to tell her story on film for the first time. The film will also include stories of five of the rescued families, located all over the world, and will trace the oppression of Jews in Syria.

The film needs your help if it is to be realized. Targum Shlishi is providing seed funding for research and development and spearheading this online fundraising effort in the hope of helping the filmmakers raise the necessary funds to complete the film. At this time of shrinking support for the arts, donations from individuals are crucial. And for documentaries, these development-stage funds are absolutely critical. Later in the process, the filmmakers may be able to turn to broadcasters or distributors to help defray significant costs. But at this stage, they will need to rely on the generosity of individuals and foundations who share their belief in the importance of telling this story.

“Telling Judy Feld Carr’s story is critically important on so many levels that we’re taking the unprecedented step of launching this online appeal to raise funds for the project,” says Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. “Her story is, first and foremost, an inspiration to us all. It shows us what one person can accomplish. Judy Feld Carr had no advantages in this work. She was one woman, with children and a career, widowed at a young age and then remarried and mothering six children while holding down a job. Today there are Syrian Jewish children all over the world who are named Judy. This film has a top-notch team with a fantastic track record. At this time of year, as we prepare to commemorate the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, I hope that the people who receive this appeal will choose to support this telling of the improbable exodus of the Jews from Syria.”

Mrs. Judy’s Secret is directed by veteran filmmaker Daniel Anker, an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning producer and director whose films include Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust, Music from the Inside Out, and Scottsboro: An American Tragedy. It is produced by Susan Berger Sabreen, a multiple Emmy-winning television producer/director and journalist and an attorney.

When asked about her motivation for producing the film, Sabreen says, “Everyone always says ‘Never Again’ and everyone feels bad when there’s persecution against the Jewish community, but most of us don’t actually take action to fix it; often, we don’t even know how. Judy not only reached out on her own to try, which alone impresses me, but she also succeeded. I find it such an inspiring example of how you can accomplish good things in life if you just try hard enough.”

Of her accomplishment, Judy Feld Carr has said, “God works in strange ways…How did I know how to do this? The whole thing is surreal.”

“Everybody does things according to what they are put there for. Everyone can make a difference,” she says.

The film is currently in the development and pre-production stage. Research is scheduled to be completed during the summer, with production to begin in Fall 2011, if necessary funds are raised. Plans are for a wide international broadcast distribution and national festival play, in addition to potential theatrical distribution. It will also have a major educational outreach component that will accompany the release, designed for Jewish community organizations, schools, and universities. While a best-selling book may reach thousands if successful, a documentary film has the potential to reach millions. With a shelf life of many years, it could potentially reach generations to come.

“I can think of no better example of the power of one than Judy Feld Carr,” says Rubin. “I hope that everyone reading this appeal will step up to the plate and exercise their own power to help support this important film.”

To Support Mrs. Judy’s Secret
Mrs. Judy’s Secret is a project of API Arts and Outreach, a 501c3 not-for-profit whose mission is to produce and distribute not-for-profit content including documentary programming. All donations are tax exempt. The filmmakers will make an effort to acknowledge donors online and in their publicity materials. Donors at $10,000 or above are entitled to on-screen credit.

To make an online contribution: http://www.mrsjudyssecret.org/ To mail a donation: Make check out to:
API Arts & Outreach, Inc. - Syria Project
18 West 21st St.
New York, NY 10010
To learn more about the project: www.MrsJudysSecret.org

To contact the production team with questions: e-mail producer Susan Berger Sabreen at susanbsabreen@optonline.net

About Targum Shlishi

Targum Shlishi is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at www.targumshlishi.org.

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