Photo Credit: Courtesy of
Karen A. Frenkel with a portrait of her great grandmother that was discovered wrapped in a garbage bag.

“Family Treasures Lost and Found” is a visually stunning film, largely because producer Karen A. Frenkel inherited a formidable family archive of art and photos from her mother’s refugee grandparents, who escaped Berlin in 1941.

The film’s press release notes: “The audience is treated to vestiges of the once-thriving Polish Jewish urban upper-middle class culture that the Nazis obliterated, and may identify with this pre-war way of life, appreciate the warning signs of fascist antisemitism, and see how its vice clamped down on Jews who would not or could not leave.”


Frenkel, who co-wrote with Isaac Asimov the non-fiction book, “Robots: Machines in Man’s Image” (Harmony 1985), is a technology journalist who covered topics like artificial intelligence, computer graphics, operating systems, supercomputers, “All the technologies that make your phones smart,” as she puts it. She also produced two award-winning documentaries about technology and society.

“In 2014, I was covering research on cyber warfare,” she relates on her new film’s website. “Between assignments, I found myself noodling around the Web occasionally googling my parents. My mother and father had been dead for 17 and 44 years, respectively, and I missed them terribly. Yet in some ways, they were mysterious.

“Unlike most children of survivors, my sisters and I inherited a treasure trove of documents, photos, and artifacts, which our mother received from her grandparents, who arrived in New York City from Berlin in 1941 with two steamer trunks. She also saved her and my father’s far fewer documents. I often perused the photo albums my mother assembled from her grandparents’ collection but had never gotten their and my parents’ documents translated. Yearning to know more about my family history, I asked myself Hillel the Elder’s question: If not now, then when?”

“Family Treasures Lost and Found” will be Streaming January 12-24, 2024, in the Miami Jewish Film Festival Digital Screening Room. Click here to purchase tickets.


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