19 November 2009

Illinois: Maxwell Street film, Nov. 22

If you can get to Skokie, you'll be able to see a great documentary called "Maxwell Street: A Living Memory," on Sunday, November 22.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois is hosting the film at 2pm, at Temple Beth Israel.

I saw the 2001 film when it was shown at Beth Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv several years ago and interviewed filmmaker Shuli Eshel. Whether or not your family's roots are in old Chicago, it is a wonderful homage to long-ago days.

Read about the Maxwell Street Foundation, dedicated to preserving, interpreting and presenting the multicultural history of some 150 years of the old Maxwell Street Market and neighborhood in Chicago.
In 1994, when the University of Illinois at Chicago and the City of Chicago teamed up to move the market and begin the neighborhood's final destruction, there were many pockets of resistance. A coalition formed consisting of property owners, neighborhood businesses, street vendors, residents, blues musicians and fans, and historic preservationists.
The group was formed in 1997 as the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition. In 2004, with the destruction and redevelopment of the neighborhood nearly complete, it became the Maxwell Street Foundation. When the last residents and businesses were remove, the new focus became preserving the area's history.

With Eshel, it co-produced the 30-minute documentary which captures the Maxwell Street Market through memories of the children and grandchildren of Eastern European Jewish immigrants who built it, incorporating some rare film and photographs.

In association with the Chicago Historical Society, the group also produced a book of photographs - "Chicago's Maxwell Street," and a book of oral histories, Jewish Maxwell Street Stories. (both by Arcadia Publishing).

The JGSI meeting will open at 12.30pm, so that members and guests can use the genealogical library, get help with genealogy websites or ask related questions before the film is screened.

For more information, view the JGSI website.

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