Survival of a Human Spirit

"You probably haven't met Judy Meisel, but once you do in 'Tak For Alt' ('Thanks for Everything' in Danish), an extraordinary documentary about her extraordinary life, she will be your heroine.  Listening to Meisel, it is as though Anne Frank had miraculously lived.  Meisel's eloquence is every bit as moving as Frank's diaries." – Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer

TAK FOR ALT tells the story of educator Judy Meisel, a Holocaust survivor whose experiences during World War II inspired a life-long campaign against racism.

Connecting Europe's Holocaust and America's civil rights movement, TAK FOR ALT opens with  Meisel recalling news coverage of a 1963 race riot in Philadelphia, sparked by a black family, the Bakers, moving into an all-white neighborhood. For Meisel, the scene was chillingly familiar: "Here I was in the City of Brotherly Love, and it was like Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938. . .and nobody was doing anything about it. So I baked some cookies and went to see the Bakers. . ."
The ensuing film weaves archival material and location footage of Meisel retracing her wartime experiences through Eastern Europe-working slave labor in a Kovno Ghetto boot factory, watching her mother disappear into the Stutthof Concentration Camp gas chamber, crawling across a frozen river after fleeing a death march, passing as a Catholic while working for the Wermacht, and finally escaping to Denmark, 16 years old and weighing forty-seven pounds.

Unlike many Holocaust films that end with Liberation in 1945, TAK FOR ALT  contextualizes these wartime events within Judy's continuing work as a civil rights advocate and educator, utilizing her experiences as a means to combat bigotry and racism here in the United States. The film underscores that the Holocaust is not just an historical event or a Jewish issue. Acts of intolerance continue across the world today, impacting people of varying color, religion, political affiliation, and sexual orientation. Through the film, Judy Meisel offers an example that one person can make a difference.

Because of educators' repeated success using TAK FOR ALT in junior high and high school classrooms, for teaching the Holocaust, Civil Rights, and moral responsibility, we have recently developed a Curriculum Guide for educators to be used in conjunction with the documentary.  For more information, look at the Curriculum page on this website.