Kempner, Aviva

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KEMPNER, AVIVA (1946– ), U.S. director-writer. Kempner was born in Berlin, Germany, to Chaim Kempner and Helen (née Ciesla). Kempner's Lithuanian father, an immigrant to the United States who served in the U.S. Army during World War ii, met Kempner's Polish mother after liberation. Kempner's family moved to Detroit, Mich., in 1950. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and in 1971 earned her master's in urban planning. In 1976, she earned her law degree from the Antioch School of Law. Inspired by her own family's Holocaust legacy, Kempner turned to Josh Waletzky for help in writing and directing Partisans of Vilna (1986), a film about Jewish resistance against the Nazis which was produced by The Ciesla Foundation, a nonprofit organization that Kempner established in 1981 to produce and distribute films about social and public interest issues. Kempner wrote the narration for Promises to Keep (1988), an Oscar-nominated documentary about homelessness. A resident of Washington, d.c., Kempner started the Washington Jewish Film Festival in 1989. In 1998, she wrote and directed The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, a documentary about the Jewish baseball star that won the George Peabody Award. In 2002, she released Today I Vote for My Joey, a comic short inspired by the 2000 election and the candidacy for vice president of Sen. Joseph *Lieberman, which she wrote for afi's Directing Workshop for Women. Kempner then went on to work on Gertrude Berg: America's Molly Goldberg, about the creator, writer, and star of The Goldbergs, a popular 1930s radio show about a Jewish family that went on to become a television series. Kempner reviewed films for The Boston Globe, The Forward, Washington Jewish Week, and The Washington Post, among others, and contributed chapters to the books Daughters of Absence and What Israel Means to Me.

[Adam Wills (2nd ed.)]