|REFUGE: STORIES OF THE SELFHELP HOME|
|Crew: ||Producers: Beth Sternheimer - Screenwriters: Ben Avishai - Cinematographer: Ines Sommer, Matthew Cozza - Editor: Ruth Epstein - Composer: Steve Zoloto
In the late 1930s, following the ferocious anti-Jewish violence of Kristallnacht, a determined group of young German Jews left behind everything that was dear and familiar and immigrated to Chicago. Here, these refugees set out to create a supportive community for themselves and others fleeing Nazi persecution, eventually establishing the Selfhelp Home for the oldest among them. 'REFUGE' is a one-hour documentary that reaches back more than 70 years to give a voice to its last generation of victims of Nazi persecution and tell the story of this singular community that has provided a safe haven to more than 1,000 Central European Jewish refugees and survivors. 'REFUGE' weaves together historical narrative, archival footage and deeply personal testimony to explore the lives of six Chicagoans against the context of the Nazi cataclysm and how a small group of them came together to care for their own. The film illuminates the lost world of Central European Jewry prior to World War II--middle class, educated, cultured--and the remarkable courage, resilience and character of its final generation at Selfhelp.
Ethan Bensinger. Ethan's parents and grandparents were forced to flee the Nazi regime in the 1930s for a new life in Palestine. Ethan was born after the State of Israel was founded and then moved with his family to America in 1955. His family's experience led Ethan to his chosen profession as an immigration lawyer, and for 25 years, Ethan served as the Managing Director of the Chicago office of a global immigration law firm. Since his retirement from law, Ethan has been involved in volunteer and philanthropic endeavors. He has also taken his interest in history and archaeology to write his blog, Sightseeing In Israel, a virtual tour of some of the most interesting "off the beaten track" sites to explore when traveling to Israel. With his film REFUGE, Ethan has turned his love of gathering historical narratives into a new career in filmmaking.