During my youth on Curaçao, I befriended two boys, children of so called ‘Polako’s’: Eastern-European Jews that had migrated to Curaçao. One of these boys, Tsale Kirzner, lived in a small house behind the synagogue. The other one, Mark Wiznitzer, a little further down on the Scharlooweg. Their parents had fled Eastern-Europe looking for safety and a better future. Many countries did not welcome them and closed their borders, but in the end they found a place to stay in one of the far corners of the Dutch kingdom: the exotic Curaçao.
In A Shtetl in the Caribbean I will look back at the sacrifices Mark's father Salomon Wiznitzer and Tsale’s parents Socher Kirzner and Fania Shusterman had to make to provide their family with a better future. Salomon came to Curaçao in the early part of the twentieth century, Socher and Fania after the Second World War. Curaçao gave them the ability to develop as human beings and also to climb up on the social ladder. In addition they had the opportunity to mean something to Curaçao, its inhabitants and new immigrants.
Today, neither Mark nor Tsale live on Curaçao, but that does not diminish the close bond they have with the island. In the film we will visit various places that have played an important part in their lives, the lives of their families and the Jewish community. Mark and Tsale look back at their happy youth on the tropical island which gave them the positive view on life that they still have today. To better understand the choices of their parents, and to answer questions that Mark and Tsale have long since had, we will also travel back to the villages in Eastern-Europe where their families originated. In the process we will see what has become of these places.
The subject of migration remains relevant
The idea for this film comes from a strong emotion: we are all part of the same family, no matter how different we are. A Shtetl in the Caribbean is a universal story about migration. Migration is not something from the past. In a time when refugees cross the borders of their war-torn countries by the thousands, in that time it is important to realise thet refugees have always existed. People who try to escape violence, persecution and disaster. A Shtetl in the Caribbean is also an homage to Curaçao, a small island with a big heart, and a place that has been a safe haven for strangers. Only in such a place a human being can truly develop. I am confident to say, that is something we can all agree on.
Support us with your donation
Your donation will help us realise this film. To shape the story and give it the necessary depth we will have to use footage from international archives and institutions. Besides that, we will shoot new material in Curaçao, Eastern-Europe and Israel. With your donation you will give Mark and Tsale the opportunity to tell the world the story of the Eastern-European Jews on Curaçao. Mark and Tsale would like to thank all donators in advance.
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Information on the film such as updates and personal messages from Mark and Tsale can be found on our Facebook and Twitter. We strive to post trivia and facts at least weekly. By subscribing to our newsletter via our Facebook or this link our weekly updates will come directly to your mailbox.
For an impression of the Eastern-European, Curacao and Israel filming locations we suggest you take a look at our Pinterest for the latest movie stills, behind-the-scenes material and other photography. We will keep it up to date with new material.