A Land of Their Own (1950)

In 1949, Hazel Greenwald traveled from New York to France and Israel to shoot a film about the journey of Jewish youth from post-war Europe to the newly established state of Israel. Her film, A Land of Their Own, was commissioned by Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, a volunteer-led New York organization which funded rehabilitation programs and facilities for children in Palestine/Israel beginning in 1934, after the rise of National Socialism in Germany. The organization backed Greenwald’s film with money raised by dues, creating a valuable record of how the American Jewish community, particularly women, experienced Israel in the late 1940s.

Hazel Greenwald’s contributions to American film are notable for three reasons: despite her lack of professional training, she produced a voluminous output of well-crafted films; she targeted her films for female audiences; and finally, according to the Hadassah Archives, Greenwald wasn’t interested in controlling her films after their release. She spent the last years of her life in Israel cataloging her photographic and cinematographic work to ensure their use by future documentary filmmakers.