Filmmaker: Jews killed in Holocaust because they didn't blend in

'Vast majority of Hasidic Jews killed in Holocaust because they refused to blend in,' says documentary film director.

David Rosenberg,

Swastika (illustrative)
Swastika (illustrative)
Flash 90

An American filmmaker is under fire for comments she made in a television interview regarding the role Jewish tradition played in the Holocaust.

Heidi Ewing, a documentary director best known for the Academy Award-nominated Jesus Camp and Freakonomics, was interviewed by Charlie Rose last Thursday, discussing among other, things her latest film, One of Us, which follows the lives of ex-Hasidic Jews in New York City who have struggled with their decision to leave the religious world.

During the interview, Ewing discussed the history of Hasidic Jewry, claiming that their refusal to assimilate was partially to blame for the Nazi genocide.

“The community was started in Eastern Europe in the 1700s. And actually, in Eastern Europe, the community wasn’t as cloistered and insular as it is today.”

“But the vast majority of Hasidic Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust partly because they refused to blend in. They kept wearing the clothing, they were sort of ‘loud and proud’ about their identity, and the vast majority died in the Holocaust.”

Ewing’s comments sparked an immediate backlash, with critics rejecting noting that the Nazi regime was meticulous in pursuing all Jews, regardless of their religious observance or affiliation.

Ewing later issued a statement to ‘clarify’ her comments, writing that she had not intended to blame observance of Jewish tradition for the Holocaust, but rather meant that they were more vulnerable because of it, as they were less able to conceal their identity.

“I am sorry if my words on Charlie Rose caused any pain and would like to clarify their meaning. The devastating losses that the Jewish community suffered at the hands of the Nazis is unspeakable. Almost half the population of world Jewry was destroyed by the Nazis and their collaborators, whole communities destroyed.”

“In the midst of this sweeping genocide, Hasidic Jews suffered disproportionate losses during the Holocaust partially because they were more easily identified and therefore had more difficulty hiding. This has been documented by multiple historians. It took great courage for Hasidic Jews at that time to refuse to change their appearance to look more like the general European public. I am only filled with respect and admiration for any person who chooses to live their own truth.”