November 27, 2001
By MELODEE HALL BLOBAUM - Special to The Star
Date: 11/27/01 22:30
History will come to life at the podium and on the big screen at AMC Studio 30 in Olathe on Sunday.
The Jewish Agency for Israel and Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City are co-sponsoring an exclusive screening of "Exodus," a 1961 movie which tells the story of Jewish resistance fighters building the state of Israel in the mid-1940s. The movie stars Paul Newman and Sal Mineo.
Before the movie, guest speakers will tell stories of their journeys to Israel. One is Zev Meir Siegel, the youngest refugee-rescue volunteer aboard Exodus, the ship for which the movie was named. Rescuers enabled survivors of the Holocaust and immigrants from North Africa to settle in Israel in the years before the state was established. Siegel, who was a student at George Washington University, joined the underground rescue force HaMossad when he was 17.
Siegel will recount his experiences as a young Jew embarking on a secret mission to smuggle Jewish Holocaust refugees past the British blockade into Palestine. The Jewish Agency provided support for the mission and continues that work around the world today.
Other speakers are Natalie Schneiderman, who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in 1992 and now is involved in programs that bring young people from former Soviet states to study in Israel; and Jariv Sultan, director of public affairs for the Jewish Agency.
The program begins at 1:30 p.m. at the theater, 119th and Strang Line Road, Olathe. Tickets are $5 and should be purchased in advance by calling (913) 327-8100.
According to Todd Stettner, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, the screening is part of a pilot marketing effort by the Jewish Agency to help inform American Jews about the agency's work in Israel.
He said the marketing effort happened to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the movie, which he described as historically accurate.
Stettner said the local federation is one of four in the United States participating in the pilot marketing project. The other federations are in Pittsburgh, Houston and New Jersey.
"(The Jewish Agency) looked at the programs that we do overseas in Israel and were impressed with the quality of the programs in terms of the people-to-people aspects of it," Stettner said.
Although the Jewish Agency has been around since before Israel was established as a modern nation in May 1948, Stettner said local residents may not be familiar with its name due to a change in the structure of Jewish funding overseas. Until recently, such funding was channeled through the United Jewish Appeal. When that group merged with the United Jewish Federations into a new entity, agencies funded through the United Jewish Appeal had to begin working directly with local Jewish Federations.
"Their name was not as familiar to the general population as that of the United Jewish Appeal," Stettner said.
He said the pilot program has included advertisements in the
. Other speakers will visit Kansas City in 2002 as part of the marketing effort.
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