My Dear Children

Directed By: LeeAnn Dance / 70 Minutes
USA / 2017 / English
Documentary / Other
Territory Rights: WORLD-WIDE
Exhibition Format: DCP, Prores/QT


In 1921, amid the brutality of anti-Jewish violence in the former Russian Empire, Feiga Shamis, a Jewish widow and mother of 12, sent two of her youngest children to an orphanage a continent away. Those children, Rose and Mannie, grew up and had families of their own, but for the rest of their lives refused to talk about their childhood. Years later, in an effort to explain what she endured and how she tried to save her children, Feiga wrote a memoir, a letter to her children. They never read it, and remained silent.

Nearly 100 years after Feiga’s devastating choice, Mannie’s daughter Judy Favish, a South African Jew eager to learn more about her beloved father’s past, uses Feiga’s letter to trace her family’s past. Her journey uncovers not only her own family’s story, but also the history of tens of thousands of other families like hers that were victims of the pogroms.

The far-reaching impact of the anti-Jewish massacres following World War I is a surprisingly unfamiliar story to many, despite the fact that it marked the beginning of the near-obliteration of Jewish life from an area to which 80% of the world’s Jewry can trace its roots.

With the help of scholars, archivists, and the powerful words of Feiga herself, Judy’s quest to unravel her family’s past brings this history to life.