Rosenwald profiled in Chicago Tribune

Eve Mangurten, project archivist at the Highland Park Historical Society, writes today about Julius Rosenwald for the suburban section of the Chicago Tribune.

As Rosenwald’s wealth increased, so did his philanthropy. He said, “I believe in giving when I am alive.” Rabbi Emil Hirsch of Chicago Sinai Congregation inspired Rosenwald to value an essential aspect of Judaism, giving charity.

Click here (“From humble clothier to running Sears”) to read more.

Rosenwald Schools director Aviva Kempner appears at Jewish Folk Arts Festival

On Saturday, Aviva Kempner, director of upcoming documentary The Rosenwald Schools, joined an excellent list of workshop presenters at the 2014 Jewish Folk Arts Festival in Rockville, Maryland. A great audience packed the room to see Aviva present the work in progress version of The Rosenwald Schools, and gave the screening a warm reception. Other than a little mishap on the way there (Aviva and our editor, Marian Hunter got lost) it was a great day. Thanks to the Jewish Folk Arts Festival for putting on a great event!

Another ‘parlor party’ for The Rosenwald Schools

Last Saturday night, Josh Levin and Debra Fried Levin generously hosted a parlor party for me to help fundraise for The Rosenwald Schools, The Ciesla Foundation’s upcoming documentary that is now in post-production.

Photo credit: Adina Kole

I interviewed Debra last year along with her husband Josh for The Rosenwald Schools. Debra and Josh went on an unusual first date. Knowing that she had written her master’s thesis on Julius Rosenwald, Josh took Debra to various sites around Chicago related to Rosenwald’s life: his Kenwood home, the Sears plant he built on the west side and even his grave in Rosehill Cemetery.

Photo courtesy of Debra Fried Levin

I had a great time meeting all of the people the Levins invited. It was good to hear feedback on the work in progress, which screened at the party. One of the attendees, Wayne Firestone, had this to say on Facebook:

After a week of uniformly disturbing news in our country, last night we saw a documentary in progress by dc filmmaker Aviva Kempner about Julius Rosenwald who helped finance 5000 African American schools run by Booker T Washington in the deeply segregated South in the 1920’s. We had a much needed lift of hope as well from speaker Aaron Jenkins who runs DC’s Operation Understanding that promotes ties between blacks and Jews.

Debra Fried Levin and Josh Levin

Thanks to all who attended. If you would like to hold a fundraising parlor party, please contact We would be most grateful for help in finishing the film and you would be listed among the end credits. The Ciesla Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all contributions are tax-deductible.

“The Knick”‘s Medical Racism Issues Evoke Story of Rosenwald Fellow Dr. Charles Drew

The New York Times, and their writer Brent Staples are to be commended for shedding light on racism in health care. Discrimination in health care practice, against both practitioners and recipients, has been an undercurrent of overall racism in U.S. history. The new “Showtime” tv series “The Knick” features a controversially innovative New York City hospital at the turn of the 20th century, where an accomplished African American physician encounters prejudice and the hospital’s acerbic chief of surgery Dr. Thackery, portrayed by Clive Owen. Andre Holland plays the gifted Black surgeon, Dr. Algernon Edwards, who is assigned menial tasks, discreetly treats Black patients in the hospital’s basement, and lives in a flophouse in a rundown section of the city. Edwards’ fictional plight recalls the real life challenges faced by medical pioneer Dr. Charles Drew (1904-1950), whose development of blood plasma banks saved the lives of thousands, including Allied soldiers during World War Two. Drew’s daughter, former D.C. City Councilwoman Charlene Drew Jarvis, is interviewed in the film “The Rosenwald Schools”. Dr. Drew finished Howard University because of a Rosenwald Fellowship that allowed him to complete his studies. In the 1930’s Drew assumed a clandestine residency at Harlem’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, under the tutelage of a doctor far more supportive than “The Knick”‘s Thackery.

New York Times writer Brent Staples’ October 13 column addresses medical racism vis-a-vis “The Knick”, and Dr. Drew:

First Page News: Rosenwald Schools Interviewee Clarence Page Visits Politics & Prose to Reflect on 30 Years of Chicago Tribune Columns

Award winning veteran journalist and news panelist Clarence Page is an interviewee in The Rosenwald Schools. At 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 26,, 2014, Page will read from a thirty year compilation of his columns, at Politics & Prose Bookstore at 5015 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C.

Page has long been associated with Chicago, where Julius Rosenwald lived, and helped build the Wabash Avenue YMCA. One of the nation’s most recognized columnists and broadcast commentators, Page has earned a Pulitzer Prize and a National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been a regular panelist on The McLaughlin Group. His new book Culture Worrier: Selected Columns 1984-2014: Reflections on Race, Politics and Social Change marks the 30th anniversary of Page’s print debut in The Chicago Tribune. The collection represents the impressive range and depth of his commentary on social issues, foreign policy, and politics.