“We’re finishing the job that Hitler started.” So says a Jewish man about interfaith marriages. Fifty percent of American Jews marry out of the faith, and only about a third of their children identify as Jews. For some of the survivors of the Holocaust, that amounts to a betrayal of those who died. It certainly seems that way to Leah Welbel, the woman at the center of this emotional documentary.
When we meet her, Welbel has not spoken to her grandson Danny in six years because he married a Christian. But with her granddaughter Cheryl, who has recently done the same thing, Welbel tries to keep the channels of communication open in hopes that her grandson-in-law might convert.
Leeman started this documentary with her focus on Welbel as a Holocaust survivor. Only during filming did Leeman realize how central the issue of interfaith marriage is to the family. While Welbel’s return to Auschwitz is undeniably powerful, a number of films have been made about survivors recounting the horrors of the camps. Leeman brings something fresh to the screen when we hear a family (and, in one remarkable scene, a whole discussion group at a conference) talk about what marrying out of the faith means. Rather than explore the topic in cool abstractions, Leeman takes us into one family’s struggle with these big questions. To her credit, Leeman leaves us as uncertain as the Welbels about what the answers might be.