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Keith Oppenheim’s “Will It Live On” Documentary & Discussion
May 9 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Join us for a viewing of the film, followed by a Q&A session with co-producer Keith Oppenheim.
In person & on Zoom.
Will It Live On; Growing Up in a Small Town Jewish Community is a story of uncertainty and hope – and about a synagogue where Rabbi Amy served as Rabbi in the 1990’s. Shot in Michigan and Haifa, the film is told from the perspective of Jonathan Levin, who grew up in Benton Harbor, Michigan and relocated to Israel 8 years ago. The documentary focuses on two families and one life-long friendship to tell the back-story of the Jewish community that once boasted three synagogues, but now has one with dwindling membership and a questionable future.
The film centers on the relationship between Jon’s mother, Sondra Levin and her life-long friend, David Kirshenbaum. More than 8 decades ago, they were born one day apart and grew up right across the street from one another in Benton Harbor. Their parents of Sondra and David came a generation earlier, farmers and merchants who created a Jewish world in rural Southwest Michigan.
Over time, the community would face new challenges, including the merger of the two remaining synagogues that ultimately would reinvigorate the community with the establishment of the current congregation, Temple B’nai Shalom. At TBS, the children of the Levins and Kirshenbaums would enjoy a deep connection with each other and to their Jewish identity. But like Jonathan himself, they all ended up making choices quite different from their parents, something they were, in a sense, encouraged to do. They left.
During the filming of Will It Live On, there was loss. Two of the characters in the film, both pillars in the community, died, leaving members of Temple B’nai Shalom in mourning. But there was also renewal. The congregation continued to find new ways to be relevant, despite the difficulty of attracting new members to lead the next generation.
Will It Live Ons co-produced by Jonathan Levin and Keith Oppenheim, a former correspondent for CNN and a former member of Temple B’nai Shalom. With interviews from an array of people from the Temple, including two rabbis, Will It Live On poses essential questions of survival, a concern common to many other small-town Jewish communities.