Monday, November 23, 2020

Movie with Abe: Saul and Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band

Saul and Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band
Directed by Tod Lending
Released November 24, 2020 (VOD)

There are many different experiences that those who endured the Holocaust had. The number of lives lost is truly appalling, and those who managed to survive had to face a world that looked nothing like the one they knew before it. Many, if they were able, traveled to other countries where they might have been able to build a new life, unsure of the challenges they might face but aware that they could not return to what used to be home. The perspectives of those who went through this unimaginable time are extremely varied and influence how those people interact with the world around them.

Saul Drier and Ruby Sosnowicz are Holocaust survivors who made their way to America after World War II. When they retired, they decided to start a Klezmer band, channeling their traumatic experiences into vivid recreations of the music and energy of the Poland they remembered from before the war. The band’s name – Holocaust Survivor Band – is direct, representing the signature enthusiasm of these two old men with a wealth of memories and eagerness to express themselves. As they navigate age, loss, and identity traveling around to play music, they prepare for a trip back to Poland to confront the history that shaped them.

This film is an endearing portrait of two friends who have chosen to embrace a defining aspect of their stories and use it for good. The images and anecdotes that are presented about their childhoods and the deaths of their family members in concentration camps are upsetting, and it is clear that the way they view the world is particularly astounding given the horrors they have had to face. Yet they persevere and latch on to dreams of grandeur, ready to start at synagogues and public libraries to infuse a bit of culture back into the community from a heritage that only they and those of their generation can truly remember.

This film, and the band it showcases, represent an engagement with the past that many Holocaust survivors, including Saul and Ruby earlier on in their lives, do not do. The deep pain and trauma formed during the destruction of so much of the Jewish community in Europe is difficult to relive, and Saul and Ruby’s approach shouldn’t be seen as the only or even the most common way to ensure that their descendants and the rest of the world remember what happened so that history is not repeated. This film, for those who are open to it, is a delight, featuring two real personalities who still have plenty to offer after a long and challenging life.


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