Jewish partisans hit the big screen at S.F. premiere

A film narrated by actor Liev Schreiber and produced by the S.F.-based Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation had its West Coast premiere in San Francisco last week.

The Nov. 13 benefit showing of “The Reunion” packed the house in the 150-seat Delancey Street screening room. It was the film’s second-ever public showing after its debut in New York City last month.

Actor Liev Schreiber takes a break during the recording session for “The Reunion.”

The 25-minute documentary details the stories of Allen Small and Leon Bakst, two 80-year-olds who were reunited last year in New York after last seeing each other in 1946. The two men grew up close friends in Poland, fought against the Nazis in armed resistance groups and lost their families during the Holocaust.

Mira Shelub, 87, is also featured in the film. The native of Poland fought the Germans with her husband before moving to San Francisco in the 1950s.

Actor Liev Schreiber takes a break during the recording session for “The Reunion.”

The inspiration for the documentary, written and produced by JPEF’s founder and executive director, Mitch Braff, was a 2011 event in New York City: a JPEF-hosted reunion for

55 surviving Jewish resistance fighters, known as partisans.

One of JPEF’s goals is to get out the word to the public about the 30,000 Jewish partisans who fought against the Nazis — and one major way it does so is by making films that are used by teachers in classrooms in the United States, Israel, Poland and South Africa. “The Reunion” was its 11th such film, each ranging from four to 25 minutes and all of them “PBS quality,” according to Braff.

Allen Small at the San Francisco premiere of the film

Some have been narrated by celebrities such as Larry King and Tovah Feldshuh. Braff said they were thrilled to have Schreiber (who played a Jewish resistance fighter, Zus Bielski, in the 2008 Holly-wood movie “Defiance”) participate in this project.

Schreiber wasn’t at the West Coast premiere, but Small, 84, came all the way from Florida, and Shelub also attended. She was said to be a big hit during the Q&A session.

The trailer for “The Reunion” can be seen at, and all of the JPEF’s other films can be seen on the website, as well. — andy altman-ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr is J.'s former managing editor and former Hardly Strictly Bagels food columnist. He lives and writes in Mexico.