USC Shoah Foundation to Launch Tattooed Torah Animated Film on IWitness

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 3:25pm

USC Shoah Foundation will next week launch the U.S. premiere of The Tattooed Torah, an animated film that tells the inspirational story of a Torah rescued and restored after the Holocaust. 

The film, based on Marvell Ginsburg’s beloved children’s book of the same name, recounts the true story of the rescue and restoration of a small Torah from Brno, Czechoslovakia.

In the film, the Torah is described as the most “precious possession” of the Jewish people and is a symbol that represents memories tied to cultural heritage, family, hope and resilience. 

Narrated by famed actor Ed Asner, the film teaches historical information about the Holocaust in a manner appropriate for a young audience by embedding it in a story about family, community, and the legacy of a precious possession.

Educational materials designed by USC Shoah Foundation primary education specialists help educators share the film with young students by linking the story of the film to students’ own most precious family possessions. When the film is taught with audiovisual testimony of survivors in IWitness who share memories of their experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, it more fully contextualizes the historical backdrop and enables young students to expand their perspectives about the events, decisions and personal impact presented in the film. 

“The film is part of a suite of materials designed for use with children in grades k-5 and fills a gap in the field of early childhood and primary education around the use of Holocaust testimony-based resources to address diversity, anti-bias education and literacy development,” said Lesly Culp, Head of Programs-Education at USC Shoah Foundation. “Building student awareness about this history through the power of story fosters their critical thinking and cultivates agency.” 

The Tattooed Torah was warmly received by students and educators when launched in Canada late last month, reaching more than 11,000 classrooms at 600 schools across the country. 

A Canadian educator spoke of the transformative impact the film on students. 

“I think my favorite part of our conversation was the evolution of each child's most precious possession. Before watching, our conversation circled around valuable items like the trampoline in one's backyard and the laptop they use to play their video games on,” the teacher said. “Post-film it transitioned to special family recipes, family heirlooms, and happy childhood memories that the students never want to forget. It was truly touching.” 

The Tattooed Torah is presented by The Goldrich Family Foundation in association with USC Shoah Foundation, executive producers Melinda Goldrich and Stephen Smith, produced by Lisa Effress of 11 Dollar Bill, animated by Jeffrey Pittle and Christian Robins, with original score by Daniel Alcheh and recorded by The Bow Tie Orchestra and Choir of Moscow, co-written by Brett Kopin and Marc Bennett, story by Greg Ferkel, and directed by Marc Bennett.  

The Tattooed Torah launches on USC Shoah Foundation’s IWitness platform on February 9. It will be accompanied by a suite of educational resources and a teacher’s guide to be used by educators of K-5 children. 

A Spanish-language version of the film and accompanying educational resources in Spanish are slated to be available on IWitness in the spring.