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May 31, 2013

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 31, 2013 By Naomi Pfefferman ing Evers--surrounded him what would become the third- tinghim. Evenso, theairsoon Jewish Journal of with a group of three friends, largestTVandfilmproduction cleared, andSaltzmanwenton Greater Los Angeles "Hey, buddy, where do you company in Canada. to speak with De La Beckwith think you're going?" he asked By 1992, he had left the for many hours over the next In June 1965, during the Saltzman. business to focus on becom- five years, often with cameras most violent days of the civil "I got really frightened; I ing a single parent (his former rolling. Their frank but genial rights movement, 21-year-old musthavebeenradiatingfear," wife is the acclaimed Indian conversations became the Paul Saltzman drove from To- Saltzman, now69,recallsinhis filmmaker Deepa Mehta) and centerpieceof"TheLastWhite ronto to Mississippi to become documentary"The LastWhite to publish books of his Beatles Knight." a freedom fighterwith the Stu- Knight: Is Reconciliation Pos- photographs. In the film, De La Beckwith dent Nonviolent Coordinating sible?" which revolves around He had no intention of exudes Southern charm, even ~ommittee. his conversations with De La making another movie when as he describes joining the Just a year before, Klans- Beckwith four decades after he received a telephone call in Klanat 14, participating in the men from Neshoba County, theiraltercationandwillscreen 2006 from a Jackson Clarion- burningofchurches, throwing Miss., had assassinated the attheLosAngelesJewishFilm Ledgerreporterwhowantedto Molotovcocktailsandshooting young activists James Chaney, Festival on June 4 and 5. interview a former civil rights outthewindowsofcarstodeter AndrewGoodmanandMichael The next thing he knew,worker. The call got Saltzman civil rights workers. Of the Schwerner, andtheyearbefore there was a blur and De La wondering about how Missis- murders ofChaney, Goodmar~ that, civil rights leader Medgar Beckwith suddenly hit his sippi had changed over the and Schwerner, he says,"They Everswasshottodeathoutside temple, hard. "I went down on years, as'well as what had got what they deserved." his Mississippi home. one knee, and as soon as I hit happened to De La Beckwith. Andyet, DeLaBeckwithalso Within hours of arriving in the ground I was running," he He telephoned the Klansman, insists that he has mellowed, the Delta, Saltzman--aCana- says in the documentary. All who agreed to get together that he no longer participates dian Jew whose uncles were soundstopped.andIcouldhear with him. in violent activities and that prominent union activists in the sound of my heart pound- In an interview with the he has even supported black the 1930s--wasarrestedwhile ing...but within five seconds Journal from his retirement political candidates. When participatinginapeacefulpro- I was across the lawn...and I home, De LaBeckwithsaidhe he suggests that Jews control test and jailed for 10 days. And knew I was safe." wantedtomeetwith Saltzman world finances, Saltzman's several weeks after his release, Even so, Saltzman contin- because, while unrepentant calmandrespectfulcorrection he found himself on thewrong ued working to help register about "popping" him. he was actually changes his mind, On side ofa Klansman's fist while blacks to vote for about two curious about what had be- camera. trying to attend a meeting of months even after De Lafallen his old nemesis.In between these conversa- the White Citizens Council at Beckwith was acquitted of Andso, the two menreunit- tions, the documentary also theLefloreCountycourthouse charges of assaulting him. ed in front of the courthouse captures reminiscences of in Greenwood. Saltzman went on to take where their violent confron- actor Morgan Freeman. who Saltzmanwasabouthalfway pictures of the Beatles while tation had occurred 43 years was born in and now lives in up the front walk when Byron studying meditation with earlier; the scene was tense, Mississippi, as well as those of "Delay" De LaBeckwithJr.--a the band in an ashram in as De La Beckwith grabbed the singer and activist Harry Klansman whose father was Rishikesh, India, in the late Saltzman's arm as ifto prevent Belafonte, who recounts how later convicted of murder- 1960s and eventually founded the Jewish Canadian from hit- heandSidney Poitierwereonce By Hillel Kuttler Boer War, and Avrom Tossel sported short hair and a long BALTIMORE (JTA) Four red beard. He had no idea his generationsofLiebermanboys appearance pegged him for a stare out from a collage that Boer, or farmer, presumedtobe hangs from a corridor wall in amongthose rebellingagainst Johannesburg, South Africa. British rule. Each boy is 7--a significant Avrom Yosselwould get only number in the life of the first a few blocks before he was boy, from whom the others seized by colonial authorities. descend photographicailyand his pleas for understanding genealogically, about his waiting son ignored. An ordeal that befell Israel Released from jail more Lieberman at that age would thanaweeklater.AvromYossel spur him to safeguard his sons returned to the spot where he againstdisaster, andthey have had left Izzy Izzy was gone. done the same for their sons. The boy didn't I~now what The collage attests to Li- to do. At first he hid in an eberman's scars, but also to enormous, empty oil drum his mother's unquenchable to get out of the rain. It so-on devotion, became his home. Lieberman, known as Izzy, Izzy met other children knew how to make money as living on the street, and they anaduit.Heboughtpropertios befriended him. They were that became the real estate of a class known as "Cape company his descendants still Coloureds," of mixed-race operate. Izzyalsoownedshops ancestry and later subject to selling timber, hardware and apartheid-eraseparationlaws. bicycles. To get by, Izzy learned how to His survival instincts and pick pockets and steal food. street smarts were developed The street children all but almost immediately uponadopted Izzy and brought him reachingSouthAfricain 1899. to their school, where he was Izzy Liebermanand his father, the only white pupil. Avrom Yossel Lieberman, had Avrom Yossel was devas- departed their native Vilnius, tated, of course. He wrote Lithuania; Rachel Lieberman home telling Rachel that Izzy and the couple's four other was dead, but nothing about children remained behind the circumstances. After all, until Avrom Yossel could send he figured, achildcouldn'tsur- for them. " vive on the city's streets. Avrom Minutes after stepping off Yossel eventually despaired of the boat in Cape Town, Avrom searching and movedto Johan- Yossel told his son to wait with nesburg, where he bought and the suitcases, then set off to sold second-hand clothing. purchase some food. This Years went by and the teen- was at the dawn of the Anglo- age Izzy joined his chums ~:~:: ::::~;~;iil;i!~!ii! S ilve:. Goldiii Diamonds !iiii!: :iliiii!i Daniel Montesi 407-831-8544 i~- I'H Courtesy Eric I~ieberman Multiple generations of Lieberman bogs are displayed on a family collage that members of the family have been displaying for several generations. heading to the Northern Cape Province, where diamonds were being mined. Meanwhile, Rachel and the remaining children endured their own travails to reach South Africa. More than a decade after Av- rom Yossel and Izzy had left, the others boarded a boat to Cape Town. Rachel trod dow.n the gangplank and immedi- ately ordered Avrom Yossel to take her to Izzy's grave. Her husband confessed that Izzy had been lost, so he'd presumed him dead. If there was a grave, he didn't know its location. Rachel refused to believe that Izzy was dead. She re- trieved the only photograph she had of him--Izzy at age 7, taken just before he and Avrom Yossel departed Vilnius--and placed notices in multiple newspapers. A teacher at Izzy's school rec- ognized his name and photo- graph. She bumped into Izzy in Cape Town and whipped out the paper she had kept. The teacher told him about his parents' search. "That can't be," he replied. "They threw me away." Nevertheless, Izzyventured to Johannesburg, to the ad- dress given in the notice. He peered through a window at the residence. Arriving home from work, his broth- ers noticed the strange figure and attacked him. That was understandable; many im- posters had claimed to be the long-lost Izzy. On this night, chased(andtheircarrammed) that the film brings up for by Klansmen. A.retired Jewish viewers their own prejudices, businessmandescribeshowhis attitudes and beliefs." community formed an armed Saltzman's family has en- guard after the bombing of dured its own share of violent their synagogue and their prejudice.In1923,hisgrandfa- rabbi's home, andthree current ther was shot to death in front Klan leaders spout racistideol- of Saltzman's mother during ogy while refusing to remove a pogrom in their Ukrainian their hoods, village; thereafter, the girl, her But the heart of the film family and Jewish neighbors is the peaceful reconciliation werelinedupinfrontofafiring between Saltzman and De La squad before Bolsheviks raced Beckwith, who politely agree to their rescue. to disagree about their dif- Saltzmansaidthatitwashis ferences, parents' instruction to"do unto "Delay opened up to me others" that, in part, spurred because I wasn't there to - his own activism; during his judge him," Saltzman said in return to the South, Saltzman an interview from his home spent his life savings of $1.5 outsideToronto."Iwasn'tthere million to make not only"The to change him or to make him Last White Knight" but also wrong. I was there to try to another documentary, "Prom understand who he was and Night in Mississippi," chroni- how he thought back then cling the first desegregated and now, as one human being promeverheldatahighschool to another." in Charleston, Miss. Somemediareviewersandat Of his appreciation for De leastonefilmfestivalprogram- La Beckwith, Saltzman says mer have criticized Saltzman in "The Last White Knight": for"going easy" on De La Beck- "What I like about you is that withorprovidingaplatformfor you had the courage to meet, his racist views. But Saltzman to speak your mind and your said those critics are missing feelings, so that I kngw who the point: "The purpose of the you are .... I like the fact that film is not to give Delay a plat- you've been real with me." form, but to explore nonviolent NaomiPfefferman is thearts communication. I'm a great and entertainment editor at admirer of Gandhi and Nelson the Jewish Journal of Greater Man dela.AndI'm really excited Los Angeles. Izzy'sparentsrantothesource they get together, the Lieber- of the commotion, man males always gather for Rachel recognized the a group photograph, ordered bleeding, dazed figure and- by generation--as they'll do at " proclaimed, "That's Izzy!" Nathan'sbarmitzvahinSouth Avrom Yossel said, "No, it Africa this summer. Daugh- can't be." ~ ters' sons aren't included It was. Father and son were because they don't 'carry the "psychologically damaged" Lieberman name. from what had happened and Izzy and his wife, Cecilia, became estranged, said Eric had eight children in all. The Lieberman, Izzy's grandson eight produced 22 children, and a real estate agent in andthe22produced35.Those Los Angeles. At the Jewish branches would remain dis- cemetery in Brixon, near Jo- connected had Rachl Lieber- hannesburg, Avrom Yossel's mannotbelievedthatIzzywas grave lay unmarked because alive and set out to find him. ofIzzy'sedictagainsthonoring She'd kept the tree intact. the man who had abandoned Another family member, him. Just six or seven years Kim Lieberman Kapalushnik, ago, some of Avrom Yossel's recently began a parallel col- great-grandchildren finally lage--ofthe family's girls. It's placed a proper marker. The been difficult to collect the family posed" next to it for a pictures across the genera- photograph, tions, to say nothing of finding Pictures are the family's imagesshowingthefemalesat legacy. Izzyhadportraits made age 7, too. ofhissonsaseachturned7--a Eric Lieberman, mean- precaution against anyone while, is w.riting a book about being cut off from the family his grandfather's life. Its tenta- for 11 years, or at all, as he tive title is "Thrown Away"-- was. First there was Leon and virtually Izzy's words upon then Robert, Eric'sfather.After beginning his journey home. Robert, Sam and Julius. But the story of the collages The pictures eventually ofthe7-year-oldboysisn'tonly were made into a collage, a cautionary tale of the ordeal and they created ready-made of one child, Eric Lieberman "wanted" posters. Images of explained. The collages also the next generation's boys provide "a sense of how close became part of the collage, our family is," he said. too, in birth order and always .... It's an identity with the in black and white: Eric, Eric's family, a feeling of closeness, a brother Alan, Jeffrey, David, memoryweshouldallknowof Warren, Dan and Guy. So, too, what's handed down from gen- for the next generation: Eric's eration to generation," he said. sons, Greg and Judd; Alan's "Peoplewflllookatthepicture sons, Zachary and Benjamin, and ask. Everyone asks." thenJethro, Nathan,Adamand Please email Hillel Kuttler Eden, who was born just two if you would like "Seeking months ago. Kin" to write abou~ your "It'snotadeadpicture,"said search for long-lost relatives Robert Lieberman, now 83 and friends. Please include and living near Alan in Johan- the principal facts and your nesburg. "It changes anytime contact information in a brief someone turns 7." email. "Seeking Kin" is spon- Many Liebermans remain sored by Bryna Shuchat and in South Africa, while others Joshua Landes and family in have scattered to Australia, lovingmemoryoftheirmother Canada, the United States and and grandmother~ Miriam Israel.Mostdisplaythecollage Shuchat, a lifelong uniter of in their homes, too. When the Jewish people.