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Bethlehem Hebrew Film Festival

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Bethlehem Hebrew Film Festival

A visitor honors the wording on one of the headstones in the Weissensee Jewish Cemetery.

Bethlehem Hebrew Congregation's Seventh Annual Cultural Series at The Colonial opens on Thursday, July 12 with "In Heaven, Underground," a documentary of the Weissensee Jewish Cemetery of Berlin. The film directed by Britta Wauer, is the amazing story of one of the oldest cemeteries in Europe, one which miraculously was escaped destruction during the Holocaust.

Rabbi William Wolff speaks of his tasks in the many services he conducts in this cemetery filled with stone markers dating back 130 years or more. In the forest setting of the cemetery, Wauer also brings to the screen others who take care of the cemetery: coffin makers, a third generation grave digger, security guards, and groundskeepers. Mourners, visitors, schoolchildren, historians, administrators, birdwatchers, and even a family who lives on the property are interviewed.

This cemetery, a Holocaust survivor that never closed and continuously served the Jewish population for 130 years, including the years of social unrest in Europe and Nazi domination, holds 115,000 graves and maintains extensive archives with information dating back to the establishment of the cemetery in the 1850s. The film intertwines shots of pre-war Berlin to add to the historical narrative of the film.

Other films in this year's Thursday series are equally compelling: "Hava Nagila," Aug. 23, tells the history of the well-known Yiddish song; "Footnote," Sept. 23, presents contrasts between father and son scholars; and "My So-Called Enemy," Oct. 4, follows the search for peace by a group of teens caught in the tensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As part of this year's Cultural Series at The Colonial Theatre, Ellen Fisch, architectural and fine arts photographer, will exhibit a collection of her Bethlehem photographs from July 1 to 31. On Tuesday, July 24, BHC invites members and friends to a Meet the Artist Reception at 4 p.m. Fisch will showcase her photography and describe her artistic vision and techniques in a special presentation beginning at 5 p.m.

For information and tickets contact Eileen Regen at 603-823-7711 or


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