Tag Archives: “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm”

“The Number On Great-Grandpa’s Arm” Comes To Westport

A pair of bomb threats to a Bridgeport temple — just 2 days before the first anniversary of the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue — reminds us all that anti-Semitism is still very real.

Which makes an upcoming townwide, interfaith event particularly important.

This Sunday, November 10 (1:30 p.m.), the Westport Library will screen HBO’s Emmy Award-winning short documentary, “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm.”

The film — which features an intimate conversation between a young boy and hi beloved great-grandfather, an Auschwitz survivor — includes hundreds of animated drawings by Westport filmmaker/painter Jeff Scher.

The screening will be followed by an audience Q-and-A with Elliott Saiontz, the film’s young narrator; his mother, and Scher. The discussion will be moderated by Rev. John D. Betit, of Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

One of Jeff Scher’s drawings in the film.

Monique Lions Greenspan has helped organize the event.

Her mother survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. “I know firsthand the incredible strength, optimism and gratefulness that survivors possess,” Monique says.

“Their stories provide invaluable lessons for both adults and children. I feel a deep sense of obligation to make our community aware of this opportunity for our children — and adults too — to bear witness to and learn from survivors’ experiences.”

Unfortunately, she says, in the aftermath of the Tree of Life Synagogue attacks — and others, in places as varied as Christchurch, Poway, El Paso and Halle — “it is more important than ever to commit to programs and discussions that clearly define expectations for, and the responsibilities of, all members of the community. Hate cannot be normalized.”

(The November 10 film is sponsored by the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, PJ Our Way and the Westport Library. After the screening and discussion, the Nu Haven Kapelye offers “a musical journey from sorrow to joy, through the Klezmer tradition.” Both events are free. Click here for more information.) 

“The Number On Great-Grandpa’s Arm”

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In recognition, HBO premieres a 19-minute documentary. “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm” features 90-year-old Jack Feldman, and his 10-year-old great-grandson Elliott. They talk honestly and emotionally about the tattoo on Feldman’s forearm — plus his life in Poland, Auschwitz, and finally America.

The Chicago Tribune calls the film “impeccably crafted (and) warmly poetic.”

Director Amy Schatz says, “I was so moved to see their body language, the way they snuggled up with each other. The way they hold hands and lean on each other, it’s powerful to see that.”

The conversation between the old man and young boy is compelling. But the documentary is made even more powerful by hundreds of animated drawings from Westport filmmaker/painter Jeff Scher.

“The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm” premiered last Sunday at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. A gallery with 500 of Scher’s paintings from the film will be displayed for 3 months. The artwork then goes on tour nationwide.

Earlier today, HBO also posted a video on the animation process. It includes a very interesting visit to Scher’s Westport studio.

“It’s hard to spend every day drawing a child’s face, marching down a corridor to their doom,” he says.

But he did it. The result is important for everyone — especially today’s kids.

And especially today.

Click below for HBO’s behind-the-scenes video: