With incidents of antisemitism again on the rise and violence against Israel, many community leaders in Jacksonville are asking: How do we learn from history to build a better community?
Stacey Goldring believes the answer lies in storytelling. Goldring is a former journalist and the founder of Searching for Identity, a nonprofit organization that captures and tells the stories of Holocaust survivors and their children through film.
A few years ago, Stacey had a realization: with each year that passes, there are fewer Holocaust survivors living to tell their stories. At the same time, their stories are living on in the memories of their children—the second generation.
The Community Foundation was an early investor in the project that became “Traces,” a one-hour documentary that aired on PBS in early 2023 and is now traveling the film festival circuit, with the latest screening confirmed at the Berlin Film Festival, striking the very heart of this difficult history. Goldring’s goal is for 6 million people to see the film, the same number of European Jews who were killed by Nazi Germany.
Since the January 2023 Traces premiere, Searching for Identity’s goal is to develop educational materials, film festival attendance, translations and a behind-the-scenes Making of Traces film. Also in the development phase is another survival documentary, featuring a local family with a miraculous story.
This fall, Searching for Identity will introduce a second- and third-gen support group.
All these projects are supported by underwriting, grants and memberships garnered from Searching for Identity’s LiterARTure Cultural Arts Series, Chapter Endnotes Book Discussions and Searching for Identity Books and Writing Journals.
The Community Foundation made two presidential grants, totaling $8,000, in 2021 and 2022 to help Goldring with her start-up costs and provided invaluable advice as Goldring embarked on the project, with support that allowed Searching for Identity to build the case for both individual donors and institutional funders to invest in the film.
Even more, The Community Foundation’s network of donors embraced the work, including Cindy Edelman, Lisa Landwirth Ullmann and John Taylor, who have volunteered their time and talent to board service and the success of the work.
“It is more important than ever, it is vital, it is critical that we narrate our own stories,” Goldring said. “We must take control and tell the truth, so that these
stories of resilience will be remembered for no one to deny.”