Why Gloria's dad taught her to be up for the fight

By Doreen Wachmann

FILMMAKER Gloria Greenfield, whose mission it is to "re-polish the tarnished image of Zionism", was born five years after the end of the Second World War.

Her father had always taught her that if the Jewish people and the Jewish state were ever in trouble, she should go and fight.

He had grown up fighting on the streets of Brooklyn, New York.

"My father grew up at a time when he had to defend himself because there were always Irish or Italian guys waiting for the Jews to walk down the street," Gloria told me.

"He had a thing about fighting. You had to fight back. My father was proud of being a Jew. I was raised like that.

"There was a part of me that knew that it was important for me to understand the horrific events in the Jewish world.

"I understood that the Holocaust, about which my father talked so much and I read so much, wasn't the first horrific event to have befallen the Jews.

"But because that was something that ended five years before I was born, there was no way I could pretend that it wasn't part of my life."

As a young girl Gloria got her first taste of successfully fighting back against antisemitism.

She recalled: "A young German girl in my sixth grade class was the first person who called me a 'dirty kike'. She pushed me. I felt that it was important for me to fight back. She certainly never did it to me again. My father was proud of me.

"There were other things. There was a country club in our town on the south shore of Long Island which didn't allow Jews, blacks or Italians to be members. That was institutionalised antisemitism."

But it wasn't just an awareness of the need for defence against antisemitism with which Gloria was raised. She inherited from her father a great pride in the new State of Israel.

Too poor to be able to fly to the new country, Gloria was delighted to have an Israeli pen pal.

She said: "That was a big thing for me because there was no way we could go to Israel."

Graduating from high school in 1968, Gloria became very involved in the radical feminist movement at university where she studied the history of women in the USA.

She went on to set up the feminist publishing company, Persephone Press.

But she publicly turned her back on the women's movement in 1983 after discovering it to be riddled with antisemitism.

Her fellow feminists had challenged her for visiting Israel and concentration camps and had turned against her for refusing to publish a feminist novel riddled with antisemitic stereotyping.

Looking back at her feminist period, Gloria now says: "In some ways I feel I learned an enormous amount during that period.

"I learned about how dogmatism and fascism really thrive in the left. I learned about the dangers of movements."

From feminist publishing, Gloria went into the entirely different world of the high-tech marketing of a billion-dollar product line.

She said: "I enjoyed that for several years because I thought I was learning so much. But it got to a point where I was selling my skills rather than doing something that had meaning for me."

Meaning for her then meant learning more about her Jewish identity.

She said: "I realised I had been focused on reading everything I could about the Holocaust. I wasn't learning about Judaism.

"In the early 1990s, when I went back to graduate school to study Jewish studies, I had three young children. I realised that my children could only understand Jewish values and the importance of Jewish learning if they saw their parents learning.

"I did it both for myself and for raising my children as proud Jews."

The Jewish studies course changed her career path.

She said: "After graduate school I really enjoyed learning very much.

"I started developing initiatives for adult Jewish learning. The Boston Federation hired me to be the director of its adult Jewish learning. I did that for several years.

"Then I was recruited to be the executive director of the David Project Israel advocacy that worked with college students. Then I wanted to go back to education, but I wanted to have a greater reach than just Boston where I lived. I realised that film was a very effective venue for education. I launched Doc Emet Productions in 2007."

Doc Emet's mission is to produce educational films that contribute to the strengthening of Jewish identity and nationhood and the values of freedom and democracy.

Her first film, The Case for Israel - Democracy's Outpost, which was released in 2008, was translated into Arabic, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.

The film, she said, was an expansion of Alan Dershowitz's book, The Case for Israel, explaining the case for the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.

Her second film, Unmasked Judeophobia, was released in 2011.

It contained an examination of the resurgence of lethal Jew-hatred around the world.

Her last film, Body and Soul -The State of the Jewish Nation, had its world premiere in Jerusalem in October.

Featuring former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and a host of world Judaic scholars it traces the 3,500-year relationship between Jewish people and the land of Israel.

Gloria said: "I did the last film because I thought it was important for Jews in the Diaspora to really know our history.

"I wanted to re-polish the honour of Zionism. It has been tarnished. The film exposes how that campaign to tarnish Zionism really came out of the Soviet Union.

"I show propaganda from the 1970s that began the whole canard of Zionism equals racism."

She continued: "Even Israel advocacy organisations in the USA are calling themselves pro-Israel instead of identifying as Zionist organisations.

"They are afraid the term Zionism will turn people off. That's very sad. Our enemies' strategy is to say that we have no connection with the land of Israel, that we are imperialist, colonialist, eastern European Jews.

"I hope the film will have some impact in restoring honour of the term Zionism. Most people do not understand what Zionism means. I made the film to provide as much as a 65-minute film can provide of the history of the relationship between Jews and Israel as well as of the legal basis for our sovereignty."

Gloria's marketing strategy for her films is to work with international, regional and national organisations that have compatible missions.

As well as being shown at Jewish and Christian venues, her films have been screened to Muslim audiences as well as to policy makers around the world.

After touring America and South Africa, Gloria will bring her film to the UK in March where she will hold discussions.

Already booked is north Manchester, venue to be announced, on Monday, March 16 and Menorah Synagogue on the following evening. As places are limited, contact Joy Wolfe at

Gloria and the film will also tour Merseyside and North Wales.

© 2014 Jewish Telegraph