April 30


Beyond the Silence Premieres at H.E.S.

April 30, 2024

Vol. 104 No. 18

It felt like Hollywood in Canarsie when over 100 people attended the premiere of a powerful, anti-gun violence documentary, Beyond the Silence: A Stand Against Gun Violence, at the Hebrew Educational Society (H.E.S.), on Sunday, April 14th.

Answering the community’s call to stand up against gun violence, the H.E.S. decided to create a mural and documentary about gun violence that could be used as an educational tool to build awareness among those most affected by random violent killings. The mural, painted in the center’s main lobby, was completed by street artist Andaluz, known for his mural of Kobe Bryant and Gigi in Downtown Brooklyn, across from the Barclays Center. His new mural shows the beautiful faces of children, families and workers at the community center. The artist said it took him weeks to paint the mural, and he wanted to capture the life and energy of the people within the H.E.S. community.

Beyond the Silence featured many of the young people who participate in activities at the H.E.S.  The documentary came about after the building went on lockdown a few years ago, and they received a grant to support anti-violence efforts. H.E.S. Executive Director Moshit Rivkin instantly knew the best way to use the grant was to create a media production that could be shared with students across the city as a tool to advocate against gun violence.

Rivkin commissioned Terry Katz, a longtime filmmaker and current educator at the H.E.S., to produce the film.  Katz has an extensive career in the entertainment industry spanning 40 years. His first documentary, Pomonok Dreams, shares the story of growing up in Pomonok, a NYCHA housing development, during the 1950s and 1960s. Katz has worked on a long list of movies and TV shows as an editor and producer, has taught at New York University and is now teaching film at the H.E.S.

When tasked with creating this documentary, he wanted to look at gun violence from a different angle. He told the Canarsie Courier he wanted this documentary to be a tool, not just another movie.  During the film, Katz used statistics on mental health, fatherless homes and other data as to why young people lean toward gangs, which leads to gun violence. He also showed how the media covers shootings in urban neighborhoods versus suburban neighborhoods, using interviews with young people from the H.E.S. to shape the documentary and help tell the story of the effects and ramifications of gun violence.

Not only were there interviews from students and staff of H.E.S., but Katz also blended in the voices of community leaders like Audrey Jackson, Executive Director of Shoot for the Stars Foundation and mother of rap artist “Pop Smoke;” Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse; Harvey Gourdine, Community Activist; A.T. Mitchell, Founder and CEO of Man Up!; and David Youngblood, Outreach House Recreation Coordinator, to name a few. The documentary features many parts of Canarsie, and those who live here can identify with the environment of the documentary.

Rivkin plans on taking the documentary to different schools and colleges in the NYC area to open the discussion about gun violence in the hope it will touch those who are most impacted by it and those who could be involved with gun violence.  The documentary explored the concept of gun violence being a means of economics for children whose parents are not at home because of work. Many of these kids find gangs or older role models who steer them in the wrong direction and misguide them to believe owning or using a gun will not affect them because they are so young. These are just some of the myths they are hoping to dispel in Beyond the Silence.

Following the screening, there was a vivid open discussion among guests. Families who lost their loved ones to gun violence were in attendance. Mrs. and Mr. Montrose, whose son Christian was killed in front of their home on East 104th Street on March 19th, were there sharing their hurt and pain, while members of the community rallied around them in support. A young girl in the audience shared that not only was she afraid when outside because of the shootings but also afraid when indoors because of school shootings.

For more information on where to watch Beyond the Silence: A Stand Against Gun Violence, visit hes.org.  To view the mural, visit the H.E.S. at 9202 Seaview Avenue.

The H.E.S. serves over 1,200 people from all walks of life daily, with food service, afterschool programs, job placement and much more. Originally a Jewish-only community center, the H.E.S. opened its doors to all people and religious backgrounds several years ago under the leadership of Marc Arje, the former Executive Director.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}