Join us for a screening of the documentary film Near Normal Man and a post-screening conversation/Q&A with Holocaust survivor Ben Stern and producer/director Charlene Stern.
Near Normal Man is a half hour, poignant, non-graphic documentary about the resilience of the human spirit. It tells a story of how to confront evil at its most personal level and how to prevail over hate—not with more violence, but with wisdom, courage, kindness and reason.
The film is told in a first-hand account by Ben Stern, a Polish Jew, who survives two ghettos, nine concentration camps and two death marches. The Nazis identify him as one of the dangerous Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto. He emerges alive, only to face the Nazis again—30 years later, this time in Skokie, Illinois. Ben decides he will not let them march in his adopted hometown and confronts his rabbi who tells the survivors to "stay home, close the shades and let them pass."
Leading with a small group of survivors, Ben wages a fiercely public battle against the Nazis, ACLU and Chicago Jewish leadership. He sends out petitions to cities across America and gets 750,000 signatures opposing the Nazi march. He receives death threats for almost a year.
When the Illinois Supreme Court upholds their right to march, Ben prepares for the worst. Right before the March date, the Nazis learn that 60,000 Jews and Christians plan to show up at the march and counter-demonstrate. The mayor of Skokie tells the Nazis he can't guarantee their safety even with the Illinois National Guard and police from neighboring states.
The Nazis cancel the march and never return to Skokie.
Ben sparks a fierce debate between hate speech and the first amendment that continues today.
For additional information, please see: nearnormalman.org.
As part of the JCC Without Walls program, the Near Normal Man screening and Q&A has been taken to several local schools and communities. If you are interested in bringing the program to your school or community, please contact Heather Shaw at [email protected].
Tuesday, October 3
Schultz Cultural Arts Hall
$10 Students | $12 Members and J-Pass Holders | $15 General Public
Contact: Heather Shaw | (650) 223-8678 | [email protected]