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Jews Everywhere, Now on Film

A documentary film company run by Ellen Friedland sees its mission as documenting “unfolding” Jewish stories, and turning them into “educational programs on Jewish culture around the world.” Since 1997, JEMGLO (Jewish Education Multimedia Global Learning Outreach) has been making films on everything from Swiss Jewry’s attempt to deal with its own WWII history to a special Israeli/Palestinian coexistence school to the story of unusual coffee. This last documentary, finished in 2008, focuses on the Mirembe Kawomera (“delicious peace”) organic coffee cooperative in Uganda, which brings together over 500 farmers — Christians, Muslims and Abayudayah Jews — to cultivate Fair Trade beans that are distributed in the United States by Thanksgiving Coffee. Working for Jewish culture both on and off the screen, JEMGLO also supports the Simcha Jewish Culture Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, known for fostering current Polish-Jewish works and creative endeavors.

JEMGLO producer Friedland, 51, speaks of the inspiration and passion for justice she learned from her European-born grandparents, her “religiously liberal” Jewish upbringing and the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment she witnessed first-hand growing up. Friedland says these values spur her desire to find “the documentary that wants to be made, a story in need of an audience.”

Upcoming JEMGLO projects include expanding a Czech documentary film examining the “mysterious 1967 murder in Prague of Charles Jordan, an executive at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee,” and bringing it to American audiences. The company is also developing a series of film shorts that they’ll make available exclusively online, so viewers can learn, says Friedland, about “a whole host of global Jewish subjects.” Send her your ideas and comments via www.jemglo.org.