A word from the filmmaker

Kate Fieffer
Kate Fieffer. Her film "Matzo & Mistletoe," can be seen this Sunday. Photo by Ralph Stewart

By Kate Feiffer - August 2, 2007

Late in the summer of 2000, I had passed the midway point in my thirties and I found myself pondering two questions. The first was about my Jewish identity. After hearing a talk by Rabbi Gunther Plaut, and then interviewing him, I began wondering about what it meant to be Jewish when you are not a religious Jew. The second question tugging at me was whether it was possible to make a film while living year-round on Martha's Vineyard. I had left Boston and my job as a television news producer a few years earlier and hadn't found my footing on the Island yet. The idea of doing production on the Vineyard intrigued me.

My two queries merged during breakfast at the Black Dog Tavern one morning with Edgartown seasonal resident Stanley Snider.

After my third cup of coffee I blurted out, "I'm thinking about making a film about secular Jewish identity."

"That's an interesting idea. It's very timely and controversial. You'd really be on to something" he replied.

Breakfast ended and production on "Matzo & Mistletoe" began.

During the following seven years, my two questions consumed me. Neither one presented itself with a clear answer. Several times, I almost threw in the towel.

"Matzo & Mistletoe" is my search for the answers. I interviewed a number of fascinating people, many of them seasonal Vineyard residents, including Mike Wallace; Alan Dershowitz; Walter Shapiro; Meryl Gordon; and my father, Jules Feiffer. To transform these interviews into a 58-minute film, I worked with an incredibly talented cast of Vineyard characters, including cameraman Bob Kimberly; editor Christopher Mara; illustrators esh and the late Karen MacKay; motion effect whizzes Jeremy Mayhew and JB Lamont; and sound mixer Jim Parr. Funding for this film came in large part from people with deep ties to Martha's Vineyard. This is a Vineyard film that isn't about the Vineyard.

Film: "Matzo & Mistletoe," Sunday, August 5, 7:30 pm, MV Hebrew Center (MVHC), 130 Center Street, Vineyard Haven. MVHC Summer Institute's Boston Jewish Film Festival series. Q&A follows the film. For more information, call (508) 693-07455 or visit