Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The rediscovery of thousands of old photos from the 1960s by Peter Emanuel Goldman, a resident of South Florida for 20 years, has set the art world abuzz. Exhibitions of his photos are now planned in Miami, Paris, and several other cities.

In the 1980s Goldman was known as head of Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI). He was also noted as the director of the documentary film “NBC in Lebanon: A Study of Media Misrepresentation,” which concerned the dishonest reporting of NBC News during the 1982 Israel-PLO war in Lebanon. Goldman, who co-edited the book The Media’s War Against Israel, was consulted by Israeli prime ministers, U.S. senators and congressmen, and was invited to the White House by President Reagan to discuss Middle East policy.


What is less know is that in the 1960s Goldman was a well-known director of independent feature films, highly praised by Newsweek, the writer Susan Sontag, film director Jean-Luc Godard, and scores of other newspapers and critics. His first feature film, “Echoes of Silence,” was awarded the Special Director‘s Prize at the Pesaro, Italy, film festival. This, and a film shot in Paris, “Wheel of Ashes,” played to critical acclaim at leading film festivals, including New York, Venice, Cannes, London.

Peter Emanuel Goldman

“We are in the presence of a filmmaker who makes films that are without precedent today,” said film critic H. L Linder. An online review from film producer Henri Sera said Goldman was “a forgotten American genius.”

Until recently his films were largely forgotten, but with their release last year on DVD by Re:Voir Video in Paris they are once again available.

A leading curator, Jose-Antonio Navaretti, photo gallery owner Gady Alroy, and art distributor Aryeh Wuensch have been excited by the power of Goldman’s photos and compared them to the best black and white works. “With its distinctive features, Goldman’s photography is at the same high level as the best photography of that era,” said Navaretti who is an adviser to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The public will be informed when the exhibition is ready to open.

Goldman, now 75, has also just completed his first novel, Last Metro to Bleecker Street, about three young people, two Jews and a Christian, searching for meaning and experience in Paris and New York in the 1960s. All three become religious, which sets up new conflicts in their souls. Clark Whelton, a former Village Voice writer and the author of two novels, wrote of Goldman’s book, “A novel as wild and compelling as the ‘60s themselves. A great book.” It will be released later this year.

Raised as an assimilated Jew in New York, Goldman had little connection to his heritage until the slaughter of the Israeli athletes by the PLO at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He was living in Denmark at the time. “I felt they were shooting at me,” he said. He became a committed Zionist and eventually headed two pro-Israel organizations in Denmark.

After returning to the U.S., Goldman attended Shabbat services in Silver Spring, Maryland. The experience acted as a catalyst for his burgeoning self awareness. His reaction was, “I’m a Jew and I had better shape up.”

Goldman was married to a non-Jew at the time and they had a daughter together. He was compelled to make an agonizing decision. Goldman says, “I loved my wife and child, but she would not covert and after several years of terrible conflict and anguish I left the marriage.” He had committed to becoming a Torah-observant Jew.

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Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.