2018-02-28 / Home

KBA second graders explore traditions and heirlooms in Film Festival movie

By JAYNE JACOVA FELD Voice staff

The Kitah Bet class members include (front row, from left), Hillel Ziskind, Amy Lerman, Ari Peltz and Lilah Kutikov; (second row, from left), Raquel Frantz, Marley Greenfield, Amit BenAri, Myka Maoz; (third row, from left), Jordana Frantz, Emilia Radacanu, Adam Litwack, Eyden Marshall and (back row, from left), Sofia Friedman, Kobi Gabay, Andrew Stolz and Simone Richman.The Kitah Bet class members include (front row, from left), Hillel Ziskind, Amy Lerman, Ari Peltz and Lilah Kutikov; (second row, from left), Raquel Frantz, Marley Greenfield, Amit BenAri, Myka Maoz; (third row, from left), Jordana Frantz, Emilia Radacanu, Adam Litwack, Eyden Marshall and (back row, from left), Sofia Friedman, Kobi Gabay, Andrew Stolz and Simone Richman.In Lilah Kutikov’s family, a century-old pocket watch has been passed down from father to son while six generations of women have used the same roller to make pastries for Shabbat.

For Adam Litwack, the family treasure is tefillin, first used by the second grader’s great-grandfather in the Old World.

Lilah and Adam, along with their Kitah Bet classmates at Kellman Brown Academy, not only learned about the family heirlooms and traditions that have been lovingly passed down from generation to generation in their own families; they made a movie about it. Starring themselves, parents and grandparents, “L’dor V’dor” will be aired March 18 as part of the Cherry Hill Volvo Cars Jewish Film Festival at the Katz JCC. The private showing is for the KBA students, family and friends only.

The poignant film, produced by teacher Toby Miller, kicks off with a thoughtful reflection on the theme by student Hillel Ziskind.

“‘L’dor V’dor,’ it means from generation to generation,” Hillel explained. “It goes on and on like a lot of things, like humanity. It gets passed on sometimes through genes, sometimes through heirlooms and sometimes traditions. Sometimes it’s through following the steps of your older relatives, like the Maccabees following in the steps of their father Mattathias.”

Following Hillel, his parents and grandparents give their take on L’dor V’dor, noting that an 18th generation ancestor was a noted Talmudic scholar.

Film production is fast becoming a tradition at KBA. In addition to the second-graders’ film, seventh and eighth graders produced “Names, Not Numbers,” a documentary about local Holocaust survivors. It is the second year in a row that the Voorhees-based Jewish day school has produced films for the JCC film festival.

“I’m really proud of the students and how inspired they have been throughout,” said Miller. “It’s such a meaningful, meaningful project. It teaches the kids so much about family traditions and about making sure we stay true to who we are as Jewish people.”

In reality, “L’dor V’dor” involved so much more than the movie, explained Miller. She began the project with readings of “The Keeping Quilt” and “The Blessing Cup,” both by Patricia Polacco about the author’s own family’s story as told through the heirlooms ancestors managed to take with them when they escaped from Russia. In coordination with Hebrew teacher Tova Yaakoby, Miller had the children learn vocabulary related to traditions both in English and Hebrew. They also made their own quilt composed of patchwork art they produced based on their own family story.

In the student film, family members provided videos--created mostly through their cell phones--addressing what tradition and L’dor V’dor means to them. The results included Amy Lerman’s Uruguayan grandparents describing the wine they make for Passover and a book that Andrew Stolz’s grandmother was given by her own second-grade teacher in recognition of her excellent “conduct” in class. Other heirlooms included Shabbat plates, Kiddush cups, candlesticks, a doll and a chess set. Emilia Radacanu contributed a story about her family’s birthday tradition; everyone gets to eat a slice of birthday cake to start their special day.

The second-graders said they enjoyed making the movies with their families, even if it was challenging at times.

For Adam Litwack, gathering research about the family tefillin was tricky.

“It was hard because I didn’t know all about it,” he said. “I had to ask my uncle about it.”

As a result, however, he is really looking forward to his turn to place the wrap around his arm for prayer the first time in five years when he is a bar mitzvah.

Andrew said reading from his grandmother’s book was a challenge.

“The words I read were very hard words, but I like doing hard stuff,” he noted.

Miller noted that, as a last piece of the project, students would also be writing personal narratives describing their family story.

Myka Maoz has a jump on that. She explained in the film why her family heirlooms, including a kiddish cup and candlesticks, are so special to her.

“I think tradition is happiness,” Myka noted. “In each piece of art and metal and gold and love, it is just so special for our family. All of this is so important to me, and one day I will have it in my house.” 

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