Broadcast of Deborah Kaufman's "Blacks and Jews"
July 29, 1997
The documentary film Blacks and Jews, written and directed by Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow, was aired on PBS on July 29, 1997. The film, which was co-produced by Kaufman, Snitow, and Bari Scott, examines three headline-making conflicts between the two groups, from the perspectives of activists on both sides. The 90-minute film begins with the Crown Heights riots of 1991. It then moves to Chicago to discuss the 1960s phenomenon of "blockbusting," in which real estate agents bought homes in Jewish neighborhoods at bargain prices and then resold them to African-Americans for large profits. Finally, the film examines a 1994 incident in which Black and Latino students at Castlemont High School in Oakland, CA, were asked to leave a movie theatre after they laughed during a screening of Schindler's List.
Intended to get behind the headlines and to spark dialogue, Blacks and Jews examines these conflicts through interviews with the participants, news footage, and comments from activists like scholar Cornel West, writer Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Tikkun magazine editor Michael Lerner, and historian Clayborne Carson. In addition to intergroup conflict, the film explores conflicts within each of these communities. The filmmakers have said they hope that Blacks and Jews will "provoke debate and discussion about intergroup relations in the United States" and that "the film lets us laugh about ourselves and lets us approach one another without fear."
Blacks and Jews was the first of three films that Kaufman, who holds a law degree from the University of California Hastings School of Law, has directed and produced with Snitow. Their non-profit production company, based in Berkeley, CA, was founded in 1993 "to produce film, video and educational media for the general public on social issues from race relations to globalization." In addition to Blacks and Jews, Snitow-Kaufman Productions has released Secrets of Silicon Valley (2001), which explores the darker side of the Internet revolution, and Thirst (2004), which explores the role of water rights in globalization and community resistance to globalization.
To learn more about Deborah Kaufman, visit her author bio in Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.