What can one person accomplish in a their lifetime, that can impact generations ? Change a country and the world? It can start with one person, Julius “JR” Rosenwald was one of those rare men.
Aviva Kempner , Writer, Producer, Director; The female Steven Spielberg of Documentaries, her niche is spotlighting Jewish pioneers in their perspective fields. Jews that have changed America by their legacies that they have left behind. Kempner’s award winning “Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg” spotlighted the genius of the women credited for the very first TV sitcom and held the title as the most influential women in Television; the writer, actress, producer and comedic brillance of Gertrude Berg.
In addition, Kempner produced and directed Peabody-winning and Emmy nominated film “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg”, about the Jewish slugger who fought anti-Semitism in the 1930’s and 40’s. Both Films have grossed over a million dollars and many acclaimed awards ,it has also earned 4 Honey B’…and remain favorites.
Kempner, does it again with her brilliant story telling documentary style of writing, directing,and interviews, captivating Jewish extraordinary people.
“Rosenwald” is the incredible story of Julius Rosenwald, a German immigrant who never finished high school, yet rose to become the president and partner in Sears, Roebuck & co. chain of stores and ground-breaking Catalog. America’s largest mercantile, manufacturer, was head quartered in Chicago, Illinois. Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com is in it’s infancy compared to what “JR” Rosenwald along with Richard W. Sears had accomplished. Bezo’s , when the American lower and middle class can buy a “Kit” (prefab) affordable house from your Amazon.com then you can boast of a major shopping site.
Rosenwald became a multi millionaire with societal status , yet remained humble and was simply known and addressed by “J.”R.”
Inspired by the Jewish ideals of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun loam (repairing the world). He was also influenced by the renowned Dr. Emil Hirsch of the prestigious Sinai Temple’s. Including the influential German congregation of Chicago’s Sinai Temple that Rosenwald was a board member. J.R. was deeply concerned over racial inequality in America. The KKK hangings of Negros, mirrored the pogroms of Russia and troubled Julius Rosenwald greatly. He used his wealth to become one of America’s most effective philanthropists. Because of his modesty, Rosenwald’s philanthropy and social activism are not well known today. He gave away $62 million in his lifetime. But what that money bought was opportunity for generations of African Americans, priceless.
Influenced by the writings of the educator Booker T. Washington, “Up from Slavery” and William Henry Baldwin Jr’s “An American citizen” catapulted this Jewish philanthropist to join forces with Booker T. Washington and African American communities during the Jim Crow South. Over 5,300 “Rosenwald pilot schools” as they became to be known during the early part of the 20th century were built. Over 660,00 students have attended. The phenomena of creating community pride along with the active participation in actually building the physical schools and having to bare a percentage of matching financial responsibility helped create a wanted education for African American children that the Jim Crow South never wanted them to have. The Southern belief was to “keep them poor and ignorant so they never can leave the working farms. Tuskegee University, the first African American higher educational school was said to be one of Rosenwald’s greatest joys and accomplishment. The Tuskegee Airmen, championed by Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR. The Negro, YMCA and YWCA across America were a Rosenwald initiative . The countless brilliant African American talents that were aided and funded by the Rosenwald Trust. The Museum of Science and Industry as it is now known was only known as “The Rosenwald”. So many more contributions that Rosenwald made to society, it is remarkable that Julius Rosenwald isn’t a household name! Thank you, Aviva Kempner for illuminating this unsung hero’s life. The next time you hear someone say” I am only one person what difference can I make?” Tell them to see “Rosenwald”.
Opens September 11, 2015 in the SF Bay Area
RATED: 4 Honey 🐝’s 👏 😘