Ciesla Foundation receives grant to promote racial healing and social justice

For Immediate Release

Ciesla Foundation receives grant to promote racial healing through distribution of Rosenwald
film and bonus features

Washington, DC (April 21, 2018) – The Ciesla Foundation will distribute and showcase the DVD and bonus features of its fourth film, Rosenwald, as part of an ongoing effort to promote racial equity and social justice.

The outreach project is supported in part by a $173,614 grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan. With this support, the Rosenwald DVD will have a wider release of the film at schools, universities, religious institutions and communities, especially those undergoing racial and economic tensions and anti-Semitic attacks.

“The Rosenwald film and its uplifting messages of unity across racial and cultural lines continues to inspire a new generation and to reinvigorate the spirit of cooperation and speaking out against injustice,” said director Aviva Kempner. “One goal of the project is to continue events on college campuses and community groups screening the Rosenwald DVD set with educational programs, especially directed to serve as rapid responses to racist and anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses.”

A tour of the film at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) was initiated last year to encourage a better understanding of cultural history, the Jim Crow era and Great Migration, and race relations and is conducted in the spirit of the Rosenwald Fund and its focus on giving.

The tour will continue as part of this outreach, placing special emphasis on scheduling joint programs between African American and Jewish groups, who were natural allies in the past for reasons celebrated in Rosenwald. These film screenings and discussions will allow for the rekindling of those historic alliances.

About The Ciesla Foundation
Based in Washington, D.C., The Ciesla Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public, tax-exempt educational organization. Ciesla (pronounced CHESH-lä) produces documentaries that investigate non- stereotypical images of Jews in history and celebrates the untold stories of Jewish heroes. Ciesla was founded in 1979 by filmmaker Aviva Kempner, who serves as the executive director.

The Ciesla Foundation’s other documentaries, including Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and Partisans of Vilna, have received numerous honors and awards including top honors from the Peabody Award, National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the CINE Golden Eagle Award. Through insightful and revealing storytelling, interviews with key figures and wide distribution, The Ciesla Foundation’s films assure worthy individuals their rightful places in history.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information,

Aviva Visits Chicago

On February 13, 2018 Aviva Kempner traveled to Chicago to share with residents in Julius Rosenwald’s hometown a few selected examples of the 39 bonus features created for the Rosenwald DVD.

Upon arrival in Chicago, Aviva made her way to the Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments, a building complex that was the brainchild of Julius Rosenwald to provide housing for the middle class in 1929. The building has been newly restored and is now known as the Rosenwald Courts. Robert Charles, a consultant to Alderwoman Pat Dowell who masterminded the political efforts of the restoration, guided Kempner through a tour of the reception areas and the renovated apartments.

The apartments were closed in 1999 and lay in disrepair for years. Kudos to the political push by Dowell and the $132 million renovation project, developed by Landwhite Developers, for restoring the building to its original glory. The reception areas on the first floor, beautifully designed by Ann Bergman of Paragon Commercial Interiors, reflect the legacy of the philanthropist and the Rosenwald Fund. The restoration is winning numerous awards, including an award from The Chicago Neighborhood Development earlier this year.

Posters of the Rosenwald film adorn the walls as well as photos of previous tenants such as Nat King Cole, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Metcalfe, Quincy Jones, Jessie Owens and works by Rosenwald Fund grant recipient Jacob Lawrence. The presence of these photos in the hallways serves as a testimony to the legacy of this building and the support it gave to the African American community during this period in history.

Once the storefronts are open and renovation is complete, Aviva Kempner and The Ciesla Foundation hope to commemorate the restoration of the Rosenwald Courts by presenting screenings of bonus features in the building.

Following the tour of the Michigan Boulevard Apartments, a Rosenwald bonus feature screening was held at Chicago Sinai Congregation. The bonus features shown were “1919 Chicago Riots,” “Michigan Boulevard Apartments,” “Rabbi Emil Hirsch,” and “Rosenwald and the NAACP.”

After the screening, Rabbi Seth M. Limmer, Senior Rabbi at Chicago Congregation, Dr. Barbara Bowman, previous tenant of the Michigan Boulevard Apartments and daughter of architect Robert Taylor, Alderwoman Pat Dowell, and Peter Ascoli, grandson and biographer of Julius Rosenwald joined Aviva for a panel discussion.

Current tenants of the Rosenwald Courts and members of Temple Sinai were in the audience. Educator and interviewee Don Stewart and Rosenwald school alumni William Buchner also attended.

Audience members enjoyed a lively and enriching conversation as the panelists spoke on the lasting impact Rosenwald had on Chicago and how Rabbi Hirsch was a great source of inspiration for Rosenwald. The event was co-sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.