New York – The director of a newly released documentary that shares the story of three former members of the Chasidic community who were ostracized after choosing to adopt a different lifestyle has apologized for controversial remarks that she made about the Holocaust during an interview on the nationally syndicated Charlie Rose talk show.
Heidi Ewing, co-director of the Netflix documentary ‘One of Us’, was discussing the differences between Brooklyn’s contemporary Chasidic community living in Brooklyn and Europe’s pre-war Chasidic communities with host Jeff Glor on October 19th when she made a statement that seemed to suggest that only outwardly identifiable Jews were killed during the Holocaust and that Chasidic Jews were partly to blame for their own deaths.
“The vast majority of Chasidic Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust partly because they refused to blend in,” said Ewing. “They kept wearing the clothing, they sort of were loud and proud about their identity and the vast majority died during the Holocaust.”
Watch below the full interview Ewing gave to anchor Jeff Glor
Contacted via Facebook Messenger to discuss her comment, Ewing responded with a statement saying, “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 hand of the Nazis is unspeakable. Almost half the population of world Jewry was destroyed by the Nazis and the 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.”
Ewing, who lives in what she describes as an “ultra-Orthodox” neighborhood in Brooklyn, declined to comment any further on her statement.
In an interview that ran in The Times of Israel (http://bit.ly/2xY7Bcp) on the same day as the Charlie Rose segment, Ewing said that she is a non-practicing Catholic while Grady described herself as “a secular Jew” who “went to temple on Yom Kippur.” According to Ewing, the two women whose previous documentaries have also delved into other religious waters, are “fascinated by religion but have no problem with religion.”
“Practice and believe what you want, but when you have a community like a large portion of the Hasidic community that goes unchecked and has its own laws, it’s a witches’ brew – a recipe for disaster,” said Ewing. “This happens across all religions. No judgment until there is a poisonous element when misogynist faiths run by men get twisted.”
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is mentioned in the Times of Israel article as being the Chasidic community’s “own guy on the assembly,” said that he found Ewing’s comments to be extremely distasteful.
“To make this kind of statement is inexcusable and that apology is not accepted on any level,” Hikind told VIN News. “This is hateful gross ignorance that has caused harm and pain. For some reason, people today seem to think that they can just say anything and get away with it and it is amazing that in 2017 people think they can still spout such ignorance.”