By Sharon Wisch-Ray
April is a full calendar for Beth-El Congregation’s religious school. Last Sunday, April 12, the short film, The Blue Tattoo, was screened as a way to commemorate the Holocaust.
Music has the power to touch both the mind and the heart. The song Blue Tattoo does that with passion and simplicity, and the new film Blue Tattoo: Dina’s Story, Joe’s Song tells the story behind the song.
The idea for the song took root in 2007, when singer/songwriter Joe Crookston and Holocaust survivor Dina Jacobson met at her home in Elmira New York.
They struck up a warm friendship, and the result, three years later, was Blue Tattoo, which Joe recorded and continues to perform in concerts internationally.
Dina grew up in Poland as one of seven children. She and an older brother were the only members of her family to survive the Nazi onslaught. She spent three years in Auschwitz. The song Blue Tattoo tells Dina’s story from the perspective of a mother, newly emigrated to America, explaining the meaning of the blue tattoo on her arm to her 4-year-old daughter in a way that protects her child’s sense of innocence.
Filmmakers Rich Kellman and Marty Kerker began production on the story of Joe and Dina’s friendship and collaboration in 2012.
Blue Tattoo: Dina’s Story, Joe’s Song premiered at the 2014 Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival on May 11, 2014, breaking attendance records and receiving glowing accolades.
Dina passed away peacefully in her home three weeks later, surrounded by friends and family. Her memory, spirit and the lessons from her life will live on through Joe’s song, and now through this deeply personal and moving film.
The film was made available to Beth-El by the Dallas Jewish Film Festival ( a project of the Aaron Family JCC), and if you missed it, the Dallas Jewish Film Festival will offer a free screening at 3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 6 in the Zale Auditorium.
The Blue Tattoo was just the first of a two-part Holocaust education program at Beth-El.
On Sunday, April 19, students will participate in “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” a program pairing students with a child who perished in the Holocaust. Each student will learn about that child, paint a butterfly in his or her memory, and keep it at home to remember and never forget.
Another important film at Beth-El: Beneath the Helmet
From 9:45 a.m.-noon, April 26, Beth-El religious school will screen Beneath the Helmet. It is open to the community. This is a new feature-length documentary film from Jerusalem U, the creators of the PBS-featured documentary Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference.
Beneath The Helmet is a coming-of-age story that highlights five young Israeli high school graduates who are drafted into the army to defend their country.
At the age of 18, away from their homes, family and friends, these young individuals undergo a demanding journey, revealing the core of who they are and who they want to be.
The filmmakers were granted an unprecedented access into the lives of these young people, which allowed them to create a unique and intimate documentary that brings to the screen rarely-seen human faces of the men and women who are the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces.
The stars of Beneath The Helmet are First Lt. Eden Adler, Sergeant Coral Amarani, Private Mekonan Abeba, Private Oren Giladi and Private Elon Kohan.
Eden Adler is a commander in the 101st Paratrooper Brigade basic training base. At 21, he is directly responsible for the lives, safety and operational effectiveness of 42 recruits and three sergeants. The son of an American mother and a Yemeni father, he grew up in the Western Galilee town of Kfar Vradim.
Coral Amarani is from the affluent seaside neighborhood of Herzliya Pituach. She is now a drill sergeant at Michvei Alon, a pre-basic training program that helps soldiers successfully integrate into the IDF. She is responsible for the basic military training, education and welfare of 12 soldiers, many of whom come from foreign countries.
Mekonan Abeba is in basic training with the 101st Paratrooper Brigade. At age 12, Mekonan emigrated from Ethiopia. Hours before boarding the plane for Israel, his father passed away, hurling the family into a tumultuous period of grief. Mekonan is being raised by his mother in a two-room apartment in Bnei Brak, which he shares with nine other family members.
A lone soldier from Switzerland, Oren Giladi is doing basic training with the 101st Paratrooper Brigade in the Negev Desert. He left Israel at age 5 and voluntarily returned at the age of 18 to fulfill his military service. He lives in Ramat Gan. One of his best friends is Mekonan Abeba, whom he met on the bus while traveling from Michvei Alon to the paratrooper base.
Elon Kohan is a second-generation Israeli, the grandson of refugees who fled from Nazi Europe to South America and later emigrated to Israel. Elon was raised in Ashdod. As the oldest of three siblings, he is the first to be drafted into the army, and this has been a major milestone for both him and his family.