About the Project

Joseph Kershner arrived in America in 1908, alone and with little money. Less than a year later Joseph had made enough money to bring his wife and new-born son Morris over from what was then Poland. But in 1920, after hearing word that the chaotic and dangerous conditions of the Polish and Soviet war threatened his wife’s family back in Europe, Joseph made the hardest decision of his life.

Joseph Kershner sold his successful tailoring business, split the money with his wife, and left the comfort and safety of Burlington, Vermont for the violence and hatred of the Pale of Settlement. Joseph may have thought he had escaped his past, but he found that history will follow you to the ends of the earth, clinging like dust.

Dust of Europe is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of Joseph’s great-grandson Michael Kershner and his search for answers to Joseph’s adventure. Why had Joseph risked so much to save a family he hardly knew? What happened to the family after he returned? How had Michael’s own family reached its current state. Michael would return to Europe to trace Joseph’s journey and explore his relationships with his family and his history

This is a film that wrestles with where we come from, how we evolve and the legacy of those who have laid the foundations of our lives.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalia Alhazov August 8, 2010 at 2:22 am

Hi Mike and Zack,
I wrote to you before I saw this. Now I see that Joseph is quite a character! I also like the way you’re doing the project. I’d love to help you. Let’s keep brainstorming how.

Daniel Joseph Kershner April 27, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Thank you for this work. My Grandfather is Benjamin Kershner, my father is Benjamin Kershner. My middle name is after Joseph. I once heard this story at a family reunion in Vermont. I was very young, but captivated by it. I’m proud of my roots and can’t wait to see the finished product.
Good luck!
Your cousin,

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