American Jerusalem:
Jews and the Making of
San Francisco

USA, 2013, 57 minutes
Directed by Marc Shaffer
Produced by Jackie Krentzman

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Public Exhibition Formats: HDCam, Blu-ray, DVD


2013 CINE Golden Eagle Award
Critics Pick Top 10 Films of the Year, San Francisco Chronicle


American Jerusalem: Jews and the Making of San Francisco tells the remarkable story of the pioneering Jews of San Francisco. Drawn to California by the Gold Rush, Jews were welcomed in San Francisco. They went on to build a thriving community, at one time the second largest Jewish community in the United States after New York. With a newfound freedom, Jews played a central role in the transformation of this once-sleepy maritime village into the largest metropolis in the American West. As Jews integrated into mainstream San Francisco society, they reinvented what it meant for them to be Jewish. Their creation was a new kind of Jew... a San Francisco Jew.

Peter L. Stein, Former Director of San Francisco Jewish Film Festival on American Jerusalem:

Puzzled visitors to San Francisco often wander around wondering where the Jewish neighborhood is, or at least was. Fact is, beginning with the city's boom in the 1849 Gold Rush, Jews have been assimilated into nearly every corner of San Francisco life, helping build, grow and define the city as well as being shaped by it in ways that are unique in American and Jewish history. Focusing on the first chapter of the city's development (1849-1915), American Jerusalem: Jews and the Making of San Francisco entertainingly charts the evolution of a distinct brand of American Jewish life on the western edge of the continent and introduces us to influential pioneers like Levi Strauss and Adolph Sutro (America's first Jewish mayor), helping to explain why some San Francisco Jewish families celebrated Shabbat on Sunday and enjoyed a good roast pork on Christmas. Some habits die hard. While not shying away from the community's more troubling chapters, such as anti-Chinese and anti-Eastern European sentiments among German Jewish leaders here, the documentary is a lively and affectionate primer to a place, and a community, like no other.

Film website

Selected Screenings

Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival
Levi Strauss Museum (Buttenheim, Germany)
Beth Tzedec Calgary Jewish Film Festival
Medias Central European Film Festival
Oregon Jewish Museum
(Additional screening added: Producer Jackie Krentzman in attendance)
Rochester Jewish Film Festival
Palm Beach International Film Festival
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
Tucson Jewish Film Festival
Odessa Ukraine Jewish Film Festival
East Bay Jewish Film Festival
Toronto Jewish Film Festival
National Museum of American Jewish History (Producer Jackie Krentzman in attendance)
NYC Premiere – Center for Jewish History, New York City (Producer Jackie Krentzman in attendance)
sdsds Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles
sdsds Rialto Cinemas, Sebastopol, CA
sdsds Rialto Cinemas, Berkeley, CA
sdsds Palo Alto (CA) JCC
sdsds Marin (CA) JCC
sdsds Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Berkeley, CA
sdsds Ventura County Jewish Film Festival
sdsds Napa Valley Film Festival
sdsds Vogue Theatre, San Francisco CA
sdsds Throckmorton Theater, Mill Valley CA
sdsds World Premiere - San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (Sold Out at Castro Theater)


Actual Films and Switchback Films Presents an Afterimage Public Media Production
Executive Producers Bonni Cohen & Jackie Krentzman
Produced by Jackie Krentzman & Camille Servan-Schreiber
Edited by Stephanie Mechura & Josh Peterson
Director of Photography Jon Shenk
Music by Marco D?ambrosio
Animation by Drew Takahashi & Lida Przyluska
Associate Producer Arwen Curry
Assistant Editor Nina Goodby
Written and Directed by Marc Shaffer

About the Filmmakers

Jackie Krentzman Executive Producer/ Producer
In 2010 Jackie wrote the 160th anniversary book for the San Francisco Jewish Family and Children's Services, detailing the history of the oldest nonprofit west of the Mississippi. This project was the catalyst for American Jerusalem. Jackie has a 20-year career in publication management, and taught at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and UC Berkeley Extension. Krentzman earned her Masters of journalism from UC Berkeley and a BA from the University of Michigan. Jackie is currently working on three new documentary films, The Outcast of Beauregard Parish, a profile of a Pentecostal preacher in the Bible Belt who came out as an atheist, a biopic of photographer Eadweard Muybridge and The Trials of Henry Ford, a David vs. Goliath story of the Jewish orphan who sued Ford for his antisemitic speech and won.

Marc Shaffer, Director
For more than two decades Marc Shaffer has written, directed and produced critically acclaimed documentary films and television news programs. Marc's films have unraveled many of the cutting-edge issues of the day—from the Gulf War to the gulf oil spill, American medical care to medical marijuana, the Washington Power Game to Wall Street’s power grab. Recognized with many honors including three national Emmy Award nominations, six Cine Golden Eagles and a Cine Special Jury award, Marc's documentaries have appeared as national primetime specials on PBS, PBS Frontline, National Geographic and elsewhere. Marc was raised in Berkeley, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and lives in Oakland with his wife and two children.

Purchase the Film

Home Use DVD: $29.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information


Classroom/Library Use DVD: $295

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information

Digital Site Licensing (DSL) available - Contact us

Step down pricing for K-12 & public libraries may be available - Contact us

Arrange a screening - Contact us

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