Jodi Harris Schwartz
Ruth: A Little Girl’s Big Journey is a short, animated film produced by USC Shoah Foundation. The film follows Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s early life, with Dr. Ruth’s own voice recounting how she survived the Holocaust as a young girl. According to Executive Producer Jodi Harris Schwartz, the film gives viewers “a chance to discover much more about Dr. Ruth’s childhood and learn how she emerged from tragedy stronger than before.”
Harris Schwartz, a member of the Next Generation Council, helped produce the film after being asked by Stephen Smith. Harris Schwartz realized the film had the potential to fill a void in Holocaust education for a younger generation, as the lack of school curriculum and classroom discussion on the subject can leave parents of young children unsure of how to broach such a harrowing topic. Harris Schwartz sees the film as an opportunity for parents and educators to teach children about the Holocaust in an age-appropriate way. “There are many children today who do not know what the Holocaust was. By educating them, this film can open their eyes to how the Holocaust devastated families and affected survivors’ futures,” Harris Schwartz said. She believes that young viewers will be pulled in by both the beautiful animation and young Ruth’s compelling story, and that having a young girl as a protagonist will help children empathize with Ruth as she describes her experience. The film also speaks to universal themes children face today: fear, loss, loneliness, resilience and hope.
In speaking of Dr. Ruth’s connection to the Institute’s mission, Harris Schwartz said, “The film shows that Dr. Ruth is stronger than hate, and her animated story is a form of testimony, similar to what we use in the Visual History Archive.” The film, and the accompanying IWitness activities developed to support it, will introduce a young audience to the power of testimony. Harris Schwartz said, “USC Shoah Foundation aims to educate and send a message of tolerance and empathy at a time when both are desperately needed.”