Teens, seniors collaborate on documentary film project

A film festival is coming to Danville and Doris Leiber, 93, is “absolutely” going.

“I’m inviting everybody I know!” she said enthusiastically. That’s because Leiber is the star of one of eight mini-documentaries about Jewish elders created by teenagers as part of the Better Together program, a collaboration between students from Contra Costa Midrasha and residents of the Reutlinger Community senior living center.

“If we don’t listen to their stories now, we might not have that chance,” program creative director Hannah Lesser said. “Time is of the essence.”

The May 21 premiere at Reutlinger is the culmination of seven months of interviewing, filming and editing, but it’s also a celebration of passing wisdom from one generation to the next.

“That’s kind of the beauty of it — you guys both work together,” said 17-year-old high school senior Molly Appleby.

Molly smiles with her arm around Henia, who is seated in a wheelchair

A national Jewish program funded by a philanthropist, Better Together awards grants for projects that help students foster their Jewish identity through intergenerational relationships. The program always encourages young people to meet with elders, but it was Devra Aarons, director of Contra Costa Midrasha and a former television producer, who came up with the idea of creating documentaries — partly as a way to get students interested, but also to help create a real bond.


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