”Legacy” (Argentina, 2003). Directors and script writers: Vivián Imar and Marcelo Trotta. Based on a Baruch Tenenbaum idea. Sound: Jorge and Javier Stavrópulos. Music: Vivián Tabbush and Javier Zentner. Voice-over: Shifra Lerer and Cristina Murta. A documentary produced by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation along with the Centro de Investigación Cinematográfica (CIC) and the support of the INCAA (National Institute of Cinema). Available in Idish and Spanish. Length: 90 minutes. Video taped. No restrictions.
Towards the end of the XIX Century, about 800 Jews from all ages, coming from Kamenetz-Podolsk, Podolia (located in the West of Ukraine), arrived at the Buenos Aires port in the Wasser steamship They were running away from the Czarist persecution and from the Pogroms. Once they were here, and after overcoming several difficulties, in order to find a source of work which would allow them first to survive and then to make some progress in life, they gathered in colonies, spread in different provinces, such as Entre Ríos, Santa Fe, La Pampa, Santiago del Estero and Buenos Aires. Most of these colonies were constituted thanks to the initiative of Baron Mauricio de Hirsch, who gave them about one hundred hectare per group.
The path to cooperativism
This was the first agricultural Jewish colonization in Argentina which paved the way to cooperativism. It gave rise to a new way of life which, beyond tradition and faith matters (or rather because of them), would leave marks in their lives, in the lives of their children and grandchildren and in the lives of the rest of the Argentinians.
That is the spirit which guided the documentary makers Vivián Imar and Marcelo Trotta to make Baruch Tenenbaum’s dream about these pioneers, who would become popularly known as the ”gauchos judíos” [”Jewish gauchos”], come true. Beyond the local film experiences – such as ”Los gauchos judíos” [”The Jewish Gauchos”] by Juan José Jusid, based on an Alberto Gerchunoff’s story, and more recently ”Un amor en Moisés Ville” [ ”A love in Moses Village”] – ”Legado” [”Legacy”] has come to fill the gap on this theme.
The structure chosen is in the voice over of Esther’s story (in Idish). Esther is one of the many women who came as little girls in those steamships and formed part of the foundation of Moisés Ville [Moses Village] (a place which is considered to be the mother of all the colonies). And the structure is also about the story of her daughter, who in spite of having moved to other directions when she grew up, she came back home on the Iom Kippur Day (Day of the Pardon).
It is precisely the recovery of Shifra Lerer’s voice, one of the most outstanding features of the Imar and Trotta work,. Shifra Lerer is an actress who became one of the remarkable women of the Argentine Jewish Community and who became part of film castings directed by Sidney Lumet and Woody Allen, among others, in the United States of America. Her voice, (and a few seconds of her image) gets to move the audience when describing the daily work in the country, but, especially, when explaining the importance of the books and the libraries in the cultural education of the Jews, scattered all over the world, and also of the theatre.
The documentary also depicts, with a meticulous film camera, the wonderful architecture of the Kadima Society Theater, in Moses Valley, its old programs, and the echo of the musical themes which were heard during its most glorious days, when personalities such as Berta Singerman or writers like Samuel Eichelbaum and César Tiempo, among others, filled the stage.
The work compiles the voices of those who lived, were born and grew up there, like that of the very Tenenbaum (who presently lives in New York), which sums up the feeling produced by the remembrance of that land which , as he says, he has never left. A special point must be made about the fact that for the documentary recompilation, films of that first period were used – the majority of them being Max Glucksman’s newsreels – a plague of locusts, droughts, floods, which destroyed the crops of the tenant farmers, But, as they themselves say, ” the land watered with tears always gives back joy” or as some time ago Gerchunoff wrote ”there grew doctors where the Jewish gauchos sowed seeds”, as it happened to many of these immigrants with different customs from those of this side of the world, but with the knowledge – and the strength – of centuries of ”exodus”.
Translation: Nora Belletieri