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A Home on the Range

Jack London, California vigilantes, McCarthyism, the Cold War and agribusiness come to life in A Home on the Range: The Jewish Chicken Ranchers of Petaluma, a quintessentially American story of how a community of immigrants found a new home in California.

The film tells the little-known story of Jews who fled the pogroms and hardships of Eastern Europe, endured sweatshops in New York, joined the labor movement, and surprisingly, gravitated towards a small town in Northern California to raise chickens. Even in the sweatshops of New York Jews had heard about Petaluma where the Jews were not shopkeepers and professionals, but rather, they were the farmers.

A Home on the Range introduces a fractious, idealistic, and intrepid group of Eastern European Jews and their descendants as they confront obstacles of language and culture on their journey towards becoming Americans. These immigrants were searching for a better life in California, but weathered their fair share of hard knocks along the way. They survived the Depression, confronted racism and political turmoil and took on the agribusiness industry.

A Home on the Range combines in-depth interviews with home movies, newspaper articles, and archival footage to recreate the flavor of this lively ranching community in which agrarian aspirations, progressive politics and secular Jewish culture all co-existed.

[Original air date: Sun, Jul 24, 2005]

This program is not currently scheduled for broadcast.

Filmmaker Profiles:

Bonnie Burt

Read more about Bonnie Burt, filmmaker of A Home on the Range.

Judith Montell

Read more about Judith Montell, filmmaker of A Home on the Range.


A Home on the Range: Crew & Credits

Produced, Directed and Edited by
Bonnie Burt
Judith Montell

Our Storytellers
Lisa Schwartz
Sylvia Schwartz
Barry Nitzberg
George Nitzberg
Irv and Edna Newman
Don Osborne
Scott Gerber
Lily Fishman Krulevitch
Gussie Sovel
Miriam Johnson
Bill Sovel
Ann Barlas
Leon Barlas
Sam Lipschultz
Ann Weinstock
Emil Tsipin
Simon Jaffee

Bonnie Burt
Ashley James
Daniel Meyers
Judith Montell

On-Line Editor
Rick Giachino

Consulting Editors
Marta Wohl
Deborah Hoffmann

Diane Scheiman

Video Post Production
Bob Johns, Finishing
David O. Weissman, Technical Consulting
Video Arts Inc., San Francisco

Audio Post Production
Mark Escott
Robert Berke Sound, San Francisco

Original Score
Randy Craig

Music Recording
Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California
Nina Bombardier
Stephen Hart
Scott Holderby

Randy Craig, keyboard
Ben Goldberg, clarinet
Susan Thompson, violin
Jeanette Lewicki, accordion

Special Thanks
Linda Lipton Abernathy
Andi Barlas
Nancy Barlas
Susan Jaust
Janice Cader
Evelyn Nitzberg
Marv Dolowitz
William Fishman
Leland Fishman
Neal Fishman
Sol and Rose Fishman
Allan Gorelick
Peg Gerber
Rose Lipschultz
Judy Nitzberg
Irv Piotrkowski
Cici Piotrkowski
David Polonsky
Sheba and Joe Rapoport
Sol Rosen
Esther Sabin
Jerome Schwartz
Alan Shiansky
Frances Sorgenstein

Family Archives
Ann and Leon Barlas
Lily Fishman Krulevitch
Sid and Gerry Lipton
Barry and George Nitzberg
Sylvia Schwartz and Family
Dan Silver
Bill and Gussie Sovel
Ann Weinstock

Archival Sources
Petaluma Historical Library Museum
Petaluma Museum Association
Debi Riddle
Lucy Kortun
Sonoma County Library
West County Museum, Sebastopol
Western Sonoma Historical Society
Evelyn S. Mc Clure
Labor Archives, SF State University
Lynn A. Bonfield
Carol Cuenod
Linda Musick
Congregation B'nai Israel, Petaluma
Rabbi Leah Sudran
YIVO Institute For Jewish Research
Erica Blankstein
Library Of Congress
Jack London State Historic Park

Dr. Les Adler
Dr. Sam Haber
Dr. Ava Kahn
Kenneth L. Kann
Dr. Vincenza Scarpaci
Dr. Phillip Naftaly
Dr. Albert Warhaftig

California Council For The Humanities
Richard A. Cummings
Nathan Cummings Fund
Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund, Inc.
Fleishhacker Foundation
Pacific Pioneer Fund

Thank You
Mark Liss
Lon Moore
Leonard Fein
Diane Scheiman
Sheba Rapoport
Gay Le Baron
Ashley James
Catherine Golden
John Rego
Nicolai Meaclor
Judy Ehrlich
Alison Jordan
Lisa Moss
Jed Riffe
Max Salomon
Judah L. Magnes Museum
Seymour Fromer
Sue Morris
Bill Chayes
Jewish Community Agency of Sonoma County
Claire Schoen
Deborah Kaufman
Alan Snitow
Connie Field
Clarity Educational Productions, Inc.

Baby Chick Ranglers

Norman Greenbaum
courtesy Erik Jacobsen, Trans/tone Productions

"Arbiter Ring Himenn"
("Workman's Circle Anthem")
performed by Jewish Folk Chorus of San Francisco

"Zog Nit Keyn Mol"
(The Partisan Song")
Words, Hirsh Glik
Music, Dmitri Pokrass
Performed by Sam Lipshultz

Traditional folksong
Performed by Scott Gerber

music by Peter Degeyter

In Loving Memory:
Irving Mayer Burt

C. 2002 Bonnie Burt and Judith Montell

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