When Yossi Klein was growing up in Brooklyn's Boro Park, the bedtime stories his father told him were about the Jews and the Holocaust.
By the time he was 20, in 1973, Yossi Klein had been an activist since sixth grade and had gone to Moscow to protest the plight of Soviet Jewry. But when he returned home, he began to wonder whether there was more to Jewish life for him than being, in his own phrase, "a professional demonstrator."
Filmed over a span of seven years, Steve Brand's warm and intimate documentary, "Kaddish" (at the Nuart Sunday through next Saturday), presents an exceptionally reflective, thoroughly likable young man struggling to achieve maturity before our eyes. The unusually long stretch of time in the film's making, encompassing a cycle of birth and death, brings universality to the very specific challenge of growing up as the child of a Holocaust survivor. Any thoughtful person will surely recognize himself or herself in Yossi Klein and in his loving, though sometimes argumentative, relationship with his father, Zoltan.
Yossi's attractive, sensible mother, Breindy, tells us that her husband didn't want to bring children into this world, but she had insisted. No wonder Zoltan felt as he did; he escaped Auschwitz, which claimed his parents along with thousands of other Hungarian Jews, only by hiding from May to October, 1944, in a bunker he and several friends dug in a forest, where they were protected by a Romanian peasant.