Within a tapestry of film, video and stills, Back to Gombin tells the story of a group of 50 children of survivors of the Shoah, who return to their parents village in Poland in acts of reconciliation, healing and discovery.
They make friends, unexpectedly with many of their parents former neighbors and together they pay homage to their ancestors from this town; formerly a vibrant community of Jews and Christians, who lived together for centuries. We see them together at the reclamation and rededication of the Jewish cemetery, where they have brought the tombstones back from being used as road paving; at the placement of a monument to the Jewish victims at Chelmno, the first extermination camp in Nazi occupied Poland; and at the Konin slave labor camp’s mass grave, where the filmmaker’s grandfather is buried.
Back to Gombin documents the remaining Jewish survivors of the town (of 2500 Jews, 212 survived and now only a handful of these elderly people exist). She urgently crossed the country, gathering in their stories in California, Michigan, Florida, New York, and New Jersey as well as in England and Poland. Among these is the famous Yiddish poet, Rajzel Zychlinsky, who at 90 is eloquent in her erudition of her poetry and ideas.
Artistically, the film incorporates rare archival film footage shot by an American, born in this town in Gombin in 1937, eighteen months before the occupation. This is contrasted by 16mm film shot in Gombin today. A strong statement is made about the continuity of life, Jewish life reborn, the need of the subsequent generations to remember as well as heal intergroup relations.
"This work is a very important part, in my view, of the continuing race against time to permanently humanize the Shoah. This film helps to rescue the memory from the horrible curse of being overwhelmed by it’s own magnitude. This must be done before the historic opportunity is forever gone."
-David L. Weiss, Executive Director, CINE
"Back to Gombin takes what is ordinary and turns it into a sense of discovery. You've made a trip come alive as a pilgrimage, a journey of past and present!"
-Michael Berenbaum, Executive Producer, Burning Questions; former Director, The Shoah Foundation
Warsaw Jewish Film Festival (2008)
New Jersey Jewish Film Festival
Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival
Back East Film Festival
YES + - (Israel Satelite Network)