Before “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg”… “Becoming American” at Philly’s Jewish Culture Museum

I had a wonderful time last week at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. I visited the museum for the opening of “Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American,” a great new exhibit that shows how the game of baseball has impacted American minority communities over the past century. My 1999 film, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, commemorates the uncommon devotion Jews had for the first great Jewish slugger, Hammerin’ Hank. NMAJH’s new exhibit strikes a similar tone, commemorating the reverence for Jewish ballplayers felt by lifelong fans. We were thrilled that the exhibit asked for two key interviews from my film and its DVD extras.

I was also honored to write the chapter on Hank Greenberg for the companion book to the exhibit, Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American. Josh Perelman edited together a great group of essays about “Becoming American” through baseball for the book. I contributed a chapter to the book entitled “Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg: Call Him the Hero of Heroes.” You can get more details about the book–and also buy yourself a copy–here.

Here are some snapshots of the exhibits featuring Hank Greenberg:


A display of Hank Greenberg memorabilia


The headline image for the exhibit, Hank admiring a long ball off his own bat


An excerpt from my interview with Arn Tellem that appeared in The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg


A “ladder” of the great Jewish ballplayers comes down to a face-off between Hank and Sandy Koufax. This chart was made by baseball aficionado Dan Okrent who went to school with me in Detroit.

By Aviva Kempner

Published in: on March 18, 2014 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Life and Times of Hank Greenberg to screen in Silver Spring, Maryland

The AFI Theater in Silver Spring is screening a series of baseball films in March and April, including one of the Ciesla Foundation’s previous productions, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1999). Their description is below:

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG
April 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm
AFI Silver Theatre, Silver Spring, MD

Tickets $5!
In person: filmmaker Aviva Kempner

This Peabody Award-winning film is a humorous and nostalgic documentary about an extraordinary baseball player who transcended religious prejudice to become an American icon. Hammerin’ Hank’s accomplishments for the Detroit Tigers during the Golden Age of Baseball rivaled those of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. America’s first Jewish baseball star was a beacon of hope to American Jews who faced bigotry during the Depression and World War II.
DIR/SCR/PROD Aviva Kempner. US, 1999, b&w and color, 95 min, 35mm. RATED PG
Co-presented by the Washington Jewish Film Festival and Women in Film & Video of Washington, DC.

Published in: on March 17, 2014 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg to screen at NW Indiana film fest

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg is slated to screen as part of the Michigan City Jewish Film Festival. Sponsored by Sinai Temple, the screening will be at the Michigan City Public Library on April 6th, 2014.

Published in: on March 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg to screen in Amherst, MA

The Yiddish Book Center (1021 West St., Amherst, MA 01002) will screen Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg on June 15 at 2:00 PM. Details can be found on their website.

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Screening of Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg in Delray, Florida

Anshei Emuna Congregation in Delray Beach, Florida will screen Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg on March 3. If you live in Southern Florida, be sure to check it out. Details can be found on their website: http://ansheiemuna.org/wp/movies/

Published in: on February 12, 2014 at 7:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Times places Gertrude Berg at the head of Woody Allen’s comedy “family tree”

Over the weekend, The New York Times published an imaginative and entertaining “family tree” for Woody Allen’s cultural influences and descendants. Not surprisingly, Gertrude Berg (as Molly Goldberg, “The Yiddishe Momme” of TV’s first sitcom, “The Goldbergs”) is at the top of the tree. Referencing her huge influence over comedians and comedy in the 20th century, the graphic describes her as “an archetypal force of nature who gives birth to a motley line of yakkers, scribblers and jokers.”

Click the image below to take a look at the whole picture.


Graphic created by The New York Times

Published in: on January 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Historic Jewish cookbooks exhibited in Ann Arbor

The Forward reports on a fascinating new exhibit of Jewish cookbooks at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. On display in the university’s special collections library is a compendium of rare books showcasing Jewish foods, recipes and other culinary traditions in the United States dating back to the late 19th century. If you’re in the Ann Arbor area, make sure to stop by the library.

Included in the exhibit is The Molly Goldberg Cookbook, written by Gertrude Berg, star of “The Goldbergs.” Although by her own admission Berg was ironically not the most talented cook, the meals she prepared on her show became iconic of American Jewish home life for a generation of TV watchers.

A newer edition of Berg’s cookbook is available for purchase at Amazon.com. You can also buy an official Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg apron (and a copy of Aviva Kempner’s 2009 documentary about Berg) here, on our website.

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aviva Kempner and Adam Goldberg interviewed in WJW

Lisa Traiger Washington Jewish Week asked Adam Goldberg, creator of ABC’s new sitcom, “The Goldbergs,” for his thoughts on Gertrude Berg’s “The Goldbergs,” the first sitcom on television decades ago.

Show creator Adam Goldberg, 37, said he knew a little bit about the original Goldbergs program. “When you grow up with the last name Goldberg, everyone says to you ‘Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg,’ but I didn’t know it was a TV show until about eight years ago. I always thought it was just a radio show.” He saw Kempner’s documentary and allowed that Berg’s early work as a woman in the male-dominated radio and television fields was groundbreaking. “I feel like it’s just not well-known. To have had a woman be a show creator and writer at that time, as well as an actor, is amazing.”

Click here to read the whole article.

Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg to air on PBS in Rochester, NY

WXXI in Rochester will screen Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg again, on July 21st at 10:30 PM. If you live in the Rochester area, be sure to tune in.

For more information, visit WXXI’s website.

Published in: on June 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Preview of the new “Goldbergs”

Rachel Shukert has written a great preview for the new ABC show, “The Goldbergs” (not to be confused with Gertrude Berg’s pioneering show of the same name) for Tablet Magazine. Although the new show, created by Adam Goldberg and set in the 1980s, is not a remake of the wonderful 1930s and 1940s sitcom featured in Aviva Kempner’s 2009 film Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, Shukert draws a clear line between the two shows that go by the same name. Both present a Jewish family to a mass television audience as universally identifiable, while not hiding their Jewish identity.

“The Goldbergs” will premiere on ABC this fall. You can watch a preview of the show in the Tablet article.

Published in: on June 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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