The Old Northside


It was a dream of mine to make this film…It was something that had been on my mind for a long time as an important story that needed to be told. I talked with my friend, Tom Lieberman, the director of the film — and described how this topic would make a great documentary … he loved the idea, but how? … we would need funding. It was beshert … many things came together so that the film could be made. The funding came through via a group of northsiders — managed under the auspices of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.

I had heard the stories over and over — the folklore perhaps? My father and many relatives grew up on the northside — and northsiders love to tell stories. I had heard that it was a ghetto, where everyone was poor, but nobody felt poor — a close-knit neighborhood, everyone was Jewish, everyone knew everyone, it was like one big family. If kids did something wrong, their parents would know about it before they got home. On Friday nights, the windows were steamed up and the streets smelled like freshly baked challah, chicken and brisket. Whether or not these tales were fact or fiction, it sounded beautiful … it was a place in history that was important to capture and perfect for a film. In making the film I learned a lot of things. Some of the folklore was true — some was not. Regardless, the people, proud of their humble roots — were smart, funny and courageous individuals, many of whom have a lot to do with how the Mpls Jewish community was shaped. It was described by many that even though they were poor — they always found something to give. Even if it was pennies … they felt strongly about the importance of giving.

One of the more interesting things that I learned was that, by no means, was the northside an all Jewish neighborhood. It was truly a melting pot — a landing pad for many nationalities, religious backgrounds and cultures. To this day, it remains the gateway of many ethnic groups. There’s a reason why it was initially established as the gateway — because of it’s proximity to the river, the rail lines and the city. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of making this film — a gift to me — for sure, and in turn, a gift to the Jewish community of Mpls. My joke after making the film was that it certainly was a big bulls eye to hit. People loved the northside .. and a movie about the northside, what’s not to love?

Freddie Weisberg, Producer