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Herbert Gold describing a meeting between Myerhoff and a Hollywood producer, 1977

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Level: Middle School and above

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More of this TYPE: News Articles

More of this TIME PERIOD: 1950-2000

More on these TOPICS: Anti-Semitism, Arts & Recreation


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In the 1970s, cultural anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff studied Jewish senior citizens at the Israel Levin Senior Center in Venice, California. In her groundbreaking research, she explored the complex interplay of cultural change and continuity for these fragile yet resilient people. Myerhoff used the lives of the center’s residents to illustrate the centrality of dignity and respect to the individual, regardless of age or ethnicity. Her work reinforced contemporary scholarly ideas of culture as a flexible resource that people use to provide comfort and enable adaptation.

In addition to her published work, Myerhoff presented her findings in the documentary, Number Our Days, which won an Academy Award. The film served as an important reminder of the value of those whom society too often forgets, the old and infirm. In this article, Herbert Gold, a writer of contemporary fiction, recounts the story of an unproductive meeting between Myerhoff and a Hollywood producer who hoped to find some commercial value in her work.

For more on this film and the life of Barbara Myerhoff, go to JWA’s Women of Valor exhibit.

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1. What is the tone of Gold’s comments?

2. What sparks the producer’s interest in Myerhoff’s research?

3. What reservations does the producer have? Why do you think he is worried?

4. How does Myerhoff’s response reflect the difference between her goals and those of the producer?

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How to Cite This Page
Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - News Articles - Meeting Between Myerhoff and a Hollywood Producer." <>.