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Forward articles about Hollywood and Antisemitism go viral

In November 2022, after comedian Dave Chappelle rehashed Kanye West’s antisemitic rants and perpetuated “Jews own Hollywood” conspiracy theories during his Saturday Night Live Monologue, Sharon wrote “An Open Letter to Dave Chappelle” for The Forward. The piece resonated – becoming The Forward’s most-read story of 2022 with over 500,000 views – and earned a 2023 Award of Excellence from the Religion Communicators Council.

Sharon’s great-grandfather, Fox Studio Production Executive Sol M. Wurtzel (#23), with wife Marian to the right and Fox Director Frank Borzage to the left, at the first Academy Awards banquet in 1929. Courtesy of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Film Shoot on the Fox Western Avenue lot from Wurtzel family archives
When Sharon visited the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in 2021, she realized the opening exhibits failed to include the substantial contributions of Hollywood’s Jewish founders. This oversight struck her as profoundly disturbing in light of surging antisemitism. Jewish founders like her great-grandfather deserved credit for pioneering an industry that perpetuated democratic values and helped define the American dream.

This inspired her to write “Jews built Hollywood. So why is their history erased from the Academy’s new museum?” to emphasize the importance of an inclusive, nuanced Hollywood history that included its Jewish pioneers.

News outlets worldwide picked up the story and quoted Sharon’s original piece. Her intention of spreading the message of inclusive history exceeded her wildest expectations. Israel, California, Rock n Roll Land, Hollywood Land, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Venezuela.

In January 2022, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures announced a plan to install its only permanent exhibit “Hollywoodland.” The exhibit will highlight Hollywood’s Jewish founders and how the burgeoning motion picture industry impacted Los Angeles and the wider world.

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