Film Premiere, Back to Gombin
Minna Packer, Producer/Director
Thursday, February 28, 2002 at 7:00 pm
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion presents the premiere
of an important new documentary film on the Holocaust and its enduring
legacy, Back to Gombin, produced and directed by Minna Packer. Packer,
the daughter of Holocaust survivors from Gombin, Poland, traces the
history of Gombin's pre-war Jewish community, its destruction during
the Holocaust, and the transmission of these memories to the descendents
of the Gombin survivors. The filmmaker and members of Gombin survivors
families will discuss the film, following the screening.
One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street)
New York City
Gombin, a small town in Central Poland, was home to more than
2,000 Jews before the Holocaust. Of these, 212 survived. Having
lost most members of their extended families, these "Gombiners,"
stayed in touch and became family for each other. Through the internet,
the next generation has sustained links with 300 Gombin families
around the world, forming a Gombin Jewish Historical and Genealogical
Society. In 1999, 50 survivors and their progeny returned to Gombin
and to Chelmno, the camp where their families were killed, to erect
a monument. Minna Packer's film, Back to Gombin, documents their
While many documentaries deal with the tragedy and loss of the
Holocaust, Back to Gombin is unique in that it looks at the impact
of the Holocaust on the children and grandchildren of survivors.
The "next generation" offspring of the survivors tell of the void
they felt in their lives when parents were unable to speak to them
about their past and relatives did not exist to fill in the blanks.
Nineteen year-old, Noam Lupu, a member of the third generation,
returned to Gombin with both his grandmother, a survivor, and his
mother. He wrote in the Gombin newsletter that the film is intended
to show "the forces and passions that drove second- and third- generations
to rebuild something they had never experienced, but somehow, nonetheless,
Those who returned to Gombin sought not only to rebuild what they
were missing emotionally, but also to rebuild physically. The effort
to return began with the realization that the gravestones of Gombin's
Jewish cemetery had been dispersed. Some had been used to pave the
town's streets, others, they found out, were used in garages and
steps to peoples homes. The film documents the re-dedication of
Gombin's Jewish cemetery and the dedication of a monument at Chelmno,
the nearby concentration camp where so many Gombiner's were murdered.
Jews lived in Gombin and other towns in Poland for hundreds of
years before the Holocaust. As one commentator put it "We are more
Polish than we like to admit, and they are more Jewish than they
like to admit." Back to Gombin documents and celebrates the re-establishment
of a connection to the past. By returning to the town where their
families had lived for hundreds of years, the Jewish Gombiners re-claimed
their legacy in Gombin.
For further information, please contact: Sarah Schriever, 212-824-2293.