The Presence of Their Absence


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Date(s) - July 31, 2022
12:45 pm - 3:15 pm

Donna Kanter & Fred Zaidman

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JGSLA next meeting–Live & Zoom

Beth Chayim Chadashim Synagogue  (limited parking in back)*

6090 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035

JGSLA is honored to screen the documentary film 

The Presence of Their Absence

The award winning, Los Angeles-based director-producer-writer, Donna Kanter, as well as the native Angeleno subject of the documentary, Fred Zaidman, will discuss the film after the showing.

Sunday  July 31st, 2022  

Join us for light refreshments at 12:45 p.m. before the showing of the film at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time (US & Canada)

This meeting was not recorded.

The Presence of Their Absence
” A film for the ages.” – William Bernstein, The American  Society for Yad Vashem

The greatest source of Holocaust history comes from testimonies of survivors through memory reconstruction in documentary films.

Filmmaker Donna Kanter always wondered what happened after they rebuilt their lives with post-war children who inherited their trauma.  Did the children fill in the blanks if their parents could not speak about their experiences? Or were they inundated with harrowing images?

In Los Angeles, California, Fred Zaidman’s mother Renate spoke often of her pain but without full facts.  His father Wolf virtually shut down.  From the contradictions of too much emotional information and only scant clues, Fred lost a sense of belonging that disassociated him from his present.

Now, Fred embarks on a journey to discover what had happened to his family in Poland during the Shoah.  His primary goal is to find a single photo of his grandparents. With only the will to push his limits, Fred constructs his family tree.

Fred Zaidman Bio: Fred is the principal subject of the documentary, The Presence of Their Absence.

I am the son of the Holocaust survivors who suffered from the pain inflicted upon them during the Shoah. A pain so excruciating, they avoided talking about their parents and siblings who had perished. Perhaps they were protecting me or protecting themselves, or both. I grew up in Los Angeles among Polish and Yiddish speaking families, unsure if I belonged in the old world, or new. I began working when I was 12, selling maps to movie stars’ homes, and developed my competitive edge in sports, which came naturally. I am an avid reader and community activist, and also help to take care of four Holocaust survivors. My passion in life, volunteering to help the underserved and neglected, was inspired by the compassion my parents instilled in me with acts of kindness for the less fortunate, despite all that they had gone through. But something always gnawed at me from deep down inside. I want to know who my grandparents, aunts and uncles were, what they looked like. What were their names? Where did they live? What did they do? Questions I couldn’t ask until later in life. I was hesitant to let a film crew follow my foray into the unknown. But it led to an incredible journey that has yielded a plethora of information, meeting new relatives, trips to Poland, Israel, and Germany, and a surprise that I invite you to discover with me. I hope my experience inspires your own searches for answers that resonate for future generations. Now my passion for helping others has added a new element that has changed my life for the good.

  Donna Kanter Bio: Donna Kanter has earned distinction as a writer-producer-director of two feature length documentaries, short documentary films, and over two dozen films for cable channels and their digital platforms.

A graduate of UC Berkeley, she earned her M.A. in Romance Languages from the University of Florence. Donna is a two-time Emmy recipient and member of the AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, Donna is also a member of the WGA, DGA, and IDA. She is on the board of Hollywood, Health & Society for the Norman Lear Center, Annenberg School at USC, and is executive of her father Hal Kanter’s vast archives for The Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

*A small parking lot is in the rear and ample free street parking is available. If you are elderly or disabled and need to park in the synagogue parking lot, please let us know when you RSVP.

The traveling library will be displayed in a large conference room.   There will be informal mentoring at a Schmooze Table.

Proof of full vaccination and at least one booster is required for in-person attendance. Masks are required.
Please RSVP to if you plan to attend in person.