When I went to the movies on Saturday night, it was to be an enjoyable family evening. So we picked “Freedom Writers,” the new MTV film about a unique teacher in Los Angeles who made the difference in the lives of her students. I was looking for a film that was both feel-good and meaningful. And it certainly was both. The fact that the teacher was Jewish—and I intuited that her work came from a bastion of Jewish values—was an added bonus.
What I didn’t expect, and it was not in any of the trailers was the Holocaust theme that was embedded in the film. (I won’t say more since I don’t want to spoil the film for any of you.) It confirmed for me once again that the unaffiliated get their Jewish education through secular, cultural means (as demonstrated in our research project last year called “A Flame Still Burns”). Since there seemed to be no indication that the film was to include Holocaust themes, the Jewish community has been silent about it—understandably. So it got me to thinking. How can we develop a rapid response team in the Jewish community to respond to programmatic efforts that require quick implementation turnaround? We are able to do it for emergency fundraising efforts—such as Israel Emergency campaigns. Shouldn’t we be able to do it for programs as well?