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David Matlow stands on the Basel hotel balcony where Theodor Herzl stood in 1897 in an iconic photograph

Canadian and Israeli Filmmakers and North Lawndale Students of Chicago Soon to Share Common Dream

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, September 24, 2013

As Toronto attorney and documentary producer David Matlow prepared to visit Chicago for the U.S. premiere of his and director Eli Tal-El's film, My Herzl, at the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema (October 9, 6:30 p.m., at the AMC Northbrook Court), he discovered there was a Herzl School of Excellence at 3711 W. Douglas Boulevard in the North Lawndale neighborhood of the city. "Could the school be named after my Herzl?" Matlow asked himself. He was both excited and intrigued.

Matlow and Tal-El's film tells the personal saga of Theodor Herzl, the 19th century Hungarian journalist who organized the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897 and advocated for the founding of a Jewish state 50 years before modern Israel was established. A change agent whose legacy is currently being debated, Herzl had to convince and motivate his own people to think in new ways before bringing his case to the masses. But Herzl had never set foot in Chicago, so why 100 years after his death, was there a school here named for him here—in an African American neighborhood?

It turned out North Lawndale, now over 90 percent African American, from 1920-1955 housed over a quarter of the city's Jewish population. Herzl was a leader, a hero, to them, not unlike Dr. Martin Luther King. Herzl said, "If you will it, it is no dream" to Dr. King's "I have a dream."

Matlow, a serious student of all things Herzl, knew he had to make a connection with the school. He called Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema executive director Cindy Stern, and when Stern heard the story, she immediately called Herzl School principal Tamara L. Davis and invited a group of over 40 8th graders to the premiere. Davis accepted, and also invited the filmmakers, Matlow and Tal-El, to meet and engage with students at Herzl School earlier that same day, to teach them more about the achievements of their school's namesake, and to encourage them to pursue their own dreams.

"The lessons of leadership are as empowering as they are timeless and universal," says Matlow. "It is an honor to have the opportunity to share insights with Chicago's future leaders and their teachers at Herzl School."

Matlow, who owns one of the world's largest collections of Herzl memorabilia, will donate an artifact to the school during his visit.



Herzl School of Excellence is located at 3711 W. Douglas Boulevard, North Lawndale.


The AMC Northbrook Court is located at 1525 Lake Cook Road, Northbrook.


For more about My Herzl, contact Ruth Diskin Films, Jerusalem,


The Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema (CFIC) is an annual October film festival with several outreach events throughout the year. Its mission is to share a love and appreciation of Israeli culture with the Jewish community and the community at large. Screenings take place at various venues in Chicago—in 2013, at Thorne Auditorium on Northwestern University Law School's downtown campus—and in the northern suburb of Northbrook IL, at the AMC Northbrook Court.  Shown are Israel's most current, internationally award-winning feature films, documentaries, shorts and TV shows, with guest appearances by Israeli filmmakers, film scholars, film critics and other film experts. The CFIC is quickly evolving as a catalyst for multicultural dialogue as many of the same racial, ethnic, religious and social groups represented in Israel and in Israeli films also reside locally.

The Herzl School community commits to sustaining a culture of respect and achievement where learning is rigorous, excellence is the standard, talent is nurtured, success is celebrated, and character is molded and modeled through the principles of the Herzl Doctrine in a conducive, safe, learning environment. Students and graduates of the Herzl School of Excellence will be scholars, leaders, problem-solvers, and compassionate productive members of our society through a shared, relentless focus on academic excellence and character.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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