The HJFF Story

Contributed by Naomi Olstein

Honolulu Jewish Film Festival (HJFF) LogoIn 2003, Lyn Zukercorn, a longtime member of Temple Emanu-El and employed as its Events Director, contacted Don Brown, a prominent local film producer, with the idea of holding a Jewish Film Festival in Hawaii. The idea took hold. It was originally called the Temple Emanu-El Jewish Film Festival. The Festival committee envisioned bringing top-caliber films with Jewish content to our island home.

The goal of this popular festival is to present world-class films with Jewish content. The Honolulu Jewish Film Festival (HJFF) committee previews about 100 movies each year, seeking out the best ones to share with both the Jewish community and the public at large.

Today, the Film Festival is one of the most successful cultural film festivals at the Honolulu Museum of Art and continues to promote the best films with Jewish interests. The Honolulu Jewish Film Festival is a fun way to take in a movie, enjoy socializing with friends and neighbors and to share Jewish culture.

Now in its 16th year, the Festival has officially been named The Honolulu Jewish Film Festival sponsored by Temple Emanu-El in memory of Kirk Cashmere. The current composition of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee has been divided into two parts: (1) the executive committee which is in charge of engaging donors, marketing and advertising; and (2) the selection committee (currently composed of ten members), which screens and selects festival appropriate films, secures relevant speakers and hosts each film.

HJFF: The Rest of the Story…

Contributed by Judy Goldman

When Bob and I visited London in the 90s, we discovered the London Jewish Film Festival. It was such a treat that we timed our visits so we could attend several films. We wondered if it would be possible to bring Israeli/Jewish films to Hawaii.

Traditionally, when someone makes a suggestion or comes up with a new idea in Sof Ma’arav, the board always says, “Good idea – go for it!”

For three years, 1997-1999, Congregation Sof Ma’arav sponsored Jewish films at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Theatre in the spring. The films were: “Like A Bride (Novia Que Te Vea)” in 1997; “The Flying Camel” and “The Second Watch” in 1998, and “Left Luggage” in 1999.

Lyn Zukerkorn, program director, initiated the Temple Emanu-El film festival a few years later after asking if it was okay with Sof Ma’arav. And so, began a delightful tradition and annual Jewish event in Honolulu.

Sof Ma’arav members Naomi Olstein and Sally Morgan sit on the HJFF Selection Committee.