After serving as CAJE Chair, in time, the Miami Jewish Film Festival chair position became open. I’ve loved film my whole life. Every weekend before the pandemic, I would go to the movies by myself, with a friend, or with my husband Rob. So this was a natural fit.
The Miami Jewish Film Festival is, of course, all about film, but it’s also about building Jewish identity and Jewish community through the medium of cinema. It’s a place where people of every level of observance or no level can join together in an entertaining community environment and have lots to discuss afterwards. At the Festival, we feel Jewish unity naturally.
I love that we partner with the German Consulate and have a group of movies in this year’s Festival intensive about Building Bridges with the African American community. Films are a great way to understand your own culture and other peoples’ cultures. We find out our differences and our similarities. We learn to respect one another.
The Festival showcases all aspects of Jewish identity and teaches Jews and others about the complexity of the Jewish experience. I love that our Jewish community is so diverse, just like our great city of Miami. And that the Festival is another great way to showcase our culture within the Jewish community and beyond.
It’s absolutely remarkable to me that our Miami Jewish Film Festival is the largest in the world. Not Chicago, not Los Angeles, not even New York City! I think it’s fantastic that we are the place where directors want to showcase their work, because we have generous donors offering cash prizes to artists who are often struggling to bring their vision to life.
Because of Igor Shteyrenberg, our amazing Executive Director, the Miami Jewish Film Festival is doing so much to elevate the film industry. His hard work, creativity, and tech savvy has transformed the Jewish cultural arts in this community. He’s made wonderful partnerships with the University of Miami Miller Center, the Holocaust Memorial, the Miami Beach JCC and so many other groups. He’s become a resource on film for our entire community—a kind of central address for film. I also have to acknowledge the great work of his professional staff, our incredible Executive Committee, and Board.