September 2, 2020
Noted filmmaker and writer Roberta Grossman has been selected to receive the 2020 Taube Jewish Peoplehood Award. The award honors Jewish men and women who have worked to foster pride in Jewish identity and heritage for new generations, making a uniquely Jewish contribution to global culture. The award was created in 2011 by the Taube Jewish Peoplehood Initiative and has three past recipients: the formerly Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu; the board chairman of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute, Piotr Wislicki; and a co-founder of Warsaw’s post-communist Jewish community, Dr. Stanislaw Krajewski. The award includes a plaque and a $10,000 gift.
The 2020 award recognizes Ms. Grossman for her groundbreaking feature-length documentaries made on Jewish historical subjects, which shed light on important 20th century histories that were otherwise little known to a multi-generational public. Notably among her films are Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh(2008), which tells the story of Hannah Senesh, a World War II-era poet and diarist who made aliyah to British-mandated Palestine from Hungary, enlisted as a volunteer parachutist in the British Special Operations Executive in 1943, and returned to Nazi Europe parachuting behind enemy lines to rescue her mother and other Hungarian Jews. This film won the audience award at 13 Jewish film festivals, was broadcast on PBS, nominated for a Primetime Emmy, and shortlisted for an Academy Award.
Along with Sophie Sartain, Ms Grossman produced Hava Nagila: The Movie (2012), a feature-length documentary that traces the cultural journey of the popular song, Hava Nagila, from Ukraine to YouTube. Released theatrically and screened at 80 Jewish film festivals, Hava Nagila: The Movie was either the opening or closing night selection at more than half of those festivals.
Her feature-length documentary, Above and Beyond (2015), tells the story of Jewish American World War II era pilots who volunteered to fight for Israel in its 1948 War of Independence, also establishing the Israeli Air Force.
In 2018, Ms. Grossman and Nancy Spielberg co-produced and released a powerful docudrama about the secret archives of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. The archive, known as Oyneg Shabbes, was assembled and hidden under the leadership of historian Emanuel Ringelblum. The film, Who Will Write Our History,is based on the book of the same name written in 2007 by historian Samuel Kassow. Taube Philanthropies co-sponsored the Discovery Channel’s global broadcast of the film in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2020.