The "Pride, Honor & Courage" of Hartford Jewish women during WWII
Pride, Honor and Courage: Jewish Women Remember World War II, the documentary film produced by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford (JHSGH), premiered Thursday at the Mandell Jewish Community Center. A patron reception and exhibit display at JHSGH followed the screening. This film is the result of a collaboration between JWA and JHSGH that began when Executive Director Estelle Kafer consulted Jayne Guberman, then the Oral History Director at JWA. At the time, JWA was planning an oral history project to collect the stories of American Jewish women who had served in the military, and Greater Hartford became a pilot project.
Interviewers from JWA and JHSGH collected stories from over 50 narrators, all women who had participated in the war effort either home or abroad. They also collected over 200 photographs, and artifacts such as maps, uniforms, letters, and VE Mail, vinyl records used to record messages. Many of the photos were contributed to JWA's Jewish American Women in WWII collecting project, now accesible in an online gallery on Flickr Commons.
"We tried to capture the women in the Hartford area and how they contributed on the home front - in hospitals and offices, as homemakers, by planting Victory Gardens," Kafer said in an excellent article on the project in the Jewish Ledger. "'The Greatest Generation' refers to the men of the time, but many younger people don't know about women's contributions."
Today, eating lunch, I got a chance to talk with Jayne Guberman, who attended Thursday's premiere and loved the film. She especially enjoyed the ending, which she said brought home the fact that even though most of these women returned to more traditional or domestic roles after the war, the agency and efficacy they experienced during wartime layed the foundation for the revival of feminism in later years.
You can learn more about the stories of the Jewish American women of Greater Hartford in the Jewish Ledger, or take a look at their photos on Flickr Commons. And congratulations to the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford on a succesful premiere!