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Jewish Journal

Documentary focuses on revolutionary war hero

by Ryan Torok

October 5, 2011 | 6:19 pm

Haym Salomon was a Jewish war hero, yet many people have never heard of him.

Hoping to call attention to Salomon’s contribution to the American Revolution — he funded the Continental Army, gave loans (most of them never paid back) to the likes of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and raised money in the aftermath of the war to help bring America out of debt — producer Randy Bellous and screenwriter William Sachs have teamed up with Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America to create a documentary about the Jewish patriot.

Earlier this month, the group shot footage at the Salomon memorial statue at Pan Pacific Park — located at Gardner and Third streets — with Salomon’s great-great-great grandson, Joseph Andrews, and World War II veterans Steve Rosmarin and Hy Arnesty, members of the Jewish War Veterans.

“Ninety-nine percent of people don’t know who Haym Salomon is,” said Andrews, who lives in Massachusetts.

Salomon was a successful commission merchant, securities dealer and a shipbroker. Born in Leszno, Poland, to Jewish refugees from Portugal, Salomon immigrated to the United States around 1775. The British imprisoned him twice for his efforts with Sons of Liberty, a colonial resistance network, and he devoted his short life — he died at 44 — to the rebels’ cause.

Although there are films about Salomon — including the 1939 Oscar-winning short, “Sons of Liberty,” starring Claude Rains — the makers of this new documentary say the content that’s out there is inaccurate.

The Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America is commissioning Bellous’ documentary. The nonprofit hopes to use the documentary to increase awareness about Salomon and have it shown in schools.

Bellous initiated the project on his own about five years ago, deciding to make a feature-length narrative film about Salomon. After years of researching Salomon’s life, he realized he couldn’t fund the film on his own. In 2008, he met Sachs, which brought the project back to life — albeit in documentary version.

“Being that William was, himself, a Jewish War Veteran, he had connections to the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, who for the past 50 years have been on a crusade to enlighten the general public about Hyam Salomon,” Bellous said. “With both Bill and my general knowledge of [Salomon], the Jewish War Veterans asked us to continue our work and make a documentary for their nonprofit.”

Sachs hopes that by spreading awareness of Salomon’s accomplishments, the public would view all Jews differently.

“Most people think Jews are accountants,” Sachs said. “No one thinks of Jews as fighters. Haym wasn’t just a businessman. He was a fighter.”

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