Archive for February 2nd, 2012

Filming Jewish Prisoners Who Have Taken A Life- Part I

February 2, 2012

I’ve been filming Jewish prisoners on and off for ten years and their contradictory, complicated natures have turned everything I’ve known about people inside out and upside down. Jews are locked up for a variety of crimes, but the Jews who have committed murder have blown my mind the most.

One Jewish murderer I filmed was Dr. Charles Friedgood a.k.a. “Doc,” a successful Long Island surgeon who murdered his wife. The comedian, Chris Rock, once joked, “If you ain’t thought of murder, you ain’t been in love.” However, the murder of Sophie (Davidowitz) Friedgood was no joking matter to the couple’s five Yeshiva educated children. I filmed “Doc” inside Sing Sing making charoset for the prison’s Passover Seder. It was hard to reconcile his grandfatherly, charming demeanor with his being a ruthless sociopath.

I became quite fond of another locked up Jew, an upper middle class business professional, married with children. He felt betrayed by his best friend and business partner, whom he believed had stolen a lot of money from him, bought a gun and shot him four times. This Jewish prisoner’s compassion and great sense of humor belied the murderous impulse that lurked in his soul. He could have been any father at my child’s Jewish Day School.

There is murder and then there is murder. The reasons and circumstances each man committed murder are completely different. However, the end results are the same — lives taken from their loved ones and families ruined.

Both men were upper middle class and professionally successful before they committed murder. One– a husband, father and doctor, the other a husband, father and businessman. How I look at people has been forever changed.