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August 22, 2014

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 22, 2014 Jewish We make giving easier. ............. ; ~ ..... :t~ ~ Congrega ion of Refo audaism Ben Safer Mem6rial Endwment Fund for th~ ~lderly !i!! iii!i!i i! i!i!ii!!ili:iii:iilzi!i@izi!i!iii!iii!i!i!i!i!i!i!!!iiiiiiiii!!!iii!iiiz~ Hunter FS ndation :ii:!: :~!ii~ii!!iii]iiiiiiiiiiii i~!il: Dick & Dottie Ap~t~um Family DrexeI U iYe ity Edward & Phyi,, ~ Family Philanthropic Fund i {{ { } Gebaide Family Phil,~th'opic Fund Coral Gables Commu i Foundation Goldberg Family Ph~ropic Fund ! iilii1111:ii Jewish CommuN{y Center of Greater O ando Joseph & Eveline Lecka~ ~CC Senior Citizen Endowmen und The Center for Contemporary Dance Center of Atlanta Soil Family Philanthropic Fund i i Alzheimer's Disease and Related DisOrders Association Zelig O. &~bi Wise ~!!anthropic Fund The following organizations benefited fro anonymous gifts: Orlando Health Foundation Camp Ramahiiiii iiiiiiii!iiiili iii ili !iii i i i i Second Harvest Food Bank i!iiii!iiii ! iiof Central Florida!iiii i:! iii iii?ii!i!;iiii i!;ii!!. Tulsa 13ewish CommunityCenter New York City Ballet iiiiiii!iiiiiiiii!iii!iiiiiiiiiiiiii ............ A Jewish Contact us to learn how TOP can make giving easier for you. 13009 Community Campus Drive, Tampa, FL 33625 813-961-9090 y revea Lacey Schwartz' film "Little White Lie" tells of her dis- covery in adulthood that her father was black. By Rebecca Spence SAN FRANCISCO (JTA)-- When Lacey Schwartz cel- ebrated her bat mitzvah more than two decades ago in her hometown of Woodstock, N.Y., a synagogue-goer turned to her and said, "It's so nice to have an Ethiopian Jew in our midst." Never mind thatSchwartz, a striking 37-year-old with long black curls and a mega- watt smile, is about as Ameri- can as they come. Raised by two Ashkenazi Jewish parents in a largely white, upstate New York town, Schwartz's complexion--darker than that of her relatives--had long been attributed to a Sicilian grandfather. Despite lingering ques- tions, she believed the story. But when Schwartz enrolled at Georgetown University and the Black Student Alliance sent her a welcome'letter based on a picture she submit- ted, Schwartz could no longer deny something was amiss. She confronted her mother, Peggy Schwartz, only to discover that her biological father was a black man named Rodney with whom she had had an affair. The discovery of her family secretand Schwartz's coming to terms with her newly com- plex racial identity serves as the basis for "Little White Lie," a moving documentary that had its official world premiere at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival last Sunday following screenings in Cape Cod, Mass., and Philadelphia. "I started from a place where being Jewish equaled being white," Schwartz told JTA. "So I had to push myself to expand my idea of what being Jewish was." Upon launching the proj- ect 10 years ago, Schwartz thought she was making a film about black Jews. At the time she was living in what she called a "racial closet." Schwartz identified as black in the broader world, but at home she behaved as though nothing had changed. Many therapy sessions and a degree from Harvard Law School later, Schwartz decided to hone in on her family's story. Her biological father had passed away just shy of her 30th birthday, and she realized that if she didn't investigate her own narrative, she was skirting the issue. "I wanted people to be having these conversations, but I wasn't even talking about things in my own life," Schwartz said. "I felt strongly that I couldn't talk the talk unless I walked the walk." Schwartz's mother has been supportive of the project since its inception. Peggy Schwartz, 67, said she initially Handy man and General Maintenance Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 had some trepidation about how others might perceive her ("Will people think I'm a raving lunatic?" she quipped in a New York Jewish accent), but that quickly faded and she felt safe spilling her secrets on camera. "I owed it to my daughter to no longer be deceptive about what my life was like," Peggy Schwartz said of her participa- tion in the film, which is slated to air next year on PBS. "She needed to go on her path, and she invited me to go on mine. I'm very grateful for that." Still, it wasn't easy. Years of silence had built emotional walls that were hard to break through, and Schwartz had to push her mother to engage in conversations about the real circumstances of her birth. Schwartz's father, Rob- ert, long divorced from her mother, also agreed to par- ticipate, but with markedly less enthusiasm. During a lively Q&A session following the San Francisco screening, Schwartz said that while the man she'd always known as "Daddy" went along with her process, it was not the path he might have chosen. In a particularly moving, if awkward, scene in the film, Schwartz's father calls her mother's years-long af- fair and Lacey's ensuing paternity--neither of which was divulged to him--"the ultimate betrayal." While Schwartz the film- maker has embraced her black identity, it has not been at the expense of the strong Jewish cultural identity she developed during her for- mative years. Some of the earliest stirrings of the film came through her work with Reboot, a hand-picked collec- tive of Jewish creative profes- sionals who come together to explore meaning, community and identity. "Reboot is a space that encourages you to ask the questions you really want to ask about your Jewish iden- tity," Schwartz said. "It has been inspirational." In addition to winning grants from major Jewish fundersIthe Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philan- thropies, the Jewish fed- erations of New York and San Francisco, and the Righteous Persons Foundation, among them--Schwartz's film has also received long-term sup- port from Be'chol Lashon, a San Francisco-based non- profit that promotes racial, ethnic and cultural diversity in Jewish life. Schwartz, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her hus- band and twin 1-year-old sons, serves as the group's national outreach director and its New York regional director. Diane Tobin, Be'chol Lashon's founder and executive direc- tor, said the organization plans to use the filmto educate teens and spark conversations about Jewish diversity. Schwartz said that she hopes the film will catalyze discussion not only around race, butalso the consequenc- es of keeping family secrets. "This is a very personal story, but it's also universal," she said. "It's a project about family secrets and the power of telling the truth."