Beth G. Kopin
Inches to Metric: Zionism Through Design

Inches to Metric: The Making of a Movie #1

I took some time off…I’m jumping back into the blogger world.

Where do I begin?

I produced (with my dream team) an animated short film called The Tattooed Torah based on the beloved children’s book by Marvell Ginsburg (my mom). The story: A little Torah “tattooed” by the Nazis during the Holocaust, is rescued and given a new home in America at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Northbrook, where it lives to this day.

Our dream team:

Directed by Marc Bennett, co-written by Brett Kopin (Marvell’s grandson and my son) and Marc Bennett, produced by Lisa Effress, additional illustrations by Martin Lemelman (illustrator of the book), animation by Jeffrey Pittle and 11 Dollar Bill’s Christian Robins and John Polk, original score by Daniel Alcheh, story by Greg Ferkel, sound mixing by Matthew Polis, executive producers The Goldrich Family Foundation, USC Shoah Foundation, Beth and Jeffrey Kopin, Aliza and Guillermo Liberman, Bradley and Kimberly Schlosser. Narrated by Ed Asner. For those of you in the younger demographic Ed is the voice from Up, the rest of us know him as Lou Grant from Mary Tyler Moore.

I wrote a series of newsletters about the making of our film from its inception. It was fun including our community in this unique opportunity. People were fascinated by our project, curious about the process and felt our indie film was timely and significant… I’m going to share them…

Mom was a visionary. She saw a need to educate the young about Judaism and did not want to spare them from learning about the Holocaust. She audaciously published The Tattooed Torah in 1983 intended for preschoolers on the Holocaust. It was controversial. Teaching a sensitive topic to such a young age group? After successfully selling out the first edition the publisher reprinted the book. Mom revised the story and changed illustrators. Her book is beloved and cherished by families within our community and worldwide. For many it is the GO TO BOOK on the Shoah for the young.

I have a connection to our Little Tattooed Torah. I was in the third graduating class of Solomon Schechter in 1972 the year Art Weil (school president at the time) brought the Tattooed Torah to our school. Mom wrote the story in 1981 as my Dad was dying. I remember her writing it longhand on a legal pad of paper and him nodding as she read it. I never imagined this small but powerful book would become a children’s classic. You never do when you are in the moment.

The power of a good idea

Mom had a caretaker who thought Mom was a rock star. She encouraged me to do something more with Mom’s book. I discussed it with Mom, giving her hope. I saw a need. How could we reach a wider audience to educate the young on such a sensitive topic as the Holocaust? After Mom passed I had dreams about turning the book into a film. I felt intuitively that the subject matter could be handled through animation, a slightly softer approach.

I asked our son Brett (Marvell’s devoted grandson) to write a screenplay based on his Bubby’s book. He was between road tripping and Rabbinical school and jumped at the chance. One of Brett and Bubby’s favorite activities was editing each others papers. They hoped to do a project together someday.

I began pitching Brett’s screenplay along with the book to film makers. I met Marc Bennett through a mutual friend. Marc saw the value of having Marvell’s grandson co-write the screenplay and loved the three generational aspect of the project. He agreed to mentor Brett, co-write the screenplay and direct our film. Working with Marc and the team he created has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

We just premiered our film, immediately following Simchat Torah. We wanted to celebrate our Torah. We dedicated our premiere weekend to the Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre as it was on the anniversary of the shooting. We had three screenings and approximately 700 viewers made up of an interfaith crowd, with an age range of pre-k to grandparents. All seemed to be engaged and enjoyed our beautiful yet powerful film. Our hope is by educating the young on the tragedies of the Holocaust early onset biases against people will be discussed in schools and in houses of worship of all faiths, so future tragedies do not occur.

My Mom dedicated the book to my Dad and now we dedicated the film to my Mom/Bubby. This story is so much bigger than a three generational project. May this film live on in Jewish and non Jewish homes, schools, museums, and houses of worship. It’s the story of our eternal light, our eternal people. I’m honored I was selected to bring this message into the light. This is a blessed project.

Stay tuned….Coming to your city soon

To hear Marvell read the book click on the YouTube link above…

Poster of the movie

About the Author
Beth Kopin is a trained interior architectural designer from the US. She has experience in the design/construction world that spans thirty years, and works and lives in both Chicago and Arnona, Jerusalem. She commutes regularly between the two cities. She brings her work ethic, training and US standards to Israel. Beth has surrounded herself with extremely talented trades. Her design team developed a way to CAD (computer aided design) plans in both US and metric standards. This enables both the US born clients (some of which live in Israel, some as second homes), and Israeli trades to better understand the plans, ensuring a more fluid communication. She is able to help bridge the gap of cultural differences, manage expectations, relate often confusing metric standards, as well as all the basic elements of designing a beautiful and functional home.,
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