Work in Progress

Moe Berg: All Star Espionage?

Dir. Aviva Kempner | 20 min
Documentary United States 2018

Sunday, May 611:00 AM Edlavitch DCJCC 60min. program

Morris “Moe” Berg was an enigmatic baseball player who played for five MLB teams, including the Washington Senators, before joining the OSS to spy on the Nazi’s atomic bomb program.

Berg grew up in an immigrant Jewish family in Newark, NJ. This screening of clips from Aviva Kempner’s work-in-progress follows Berg’s exhibition tour with Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to Japan in 1934.

20 minutes of the work-in-progress film will be shown, followed by a discussion with director Aviva Kempner, intelligence analyst Richard Willing, and Henry Thomas, biographer of Walter Johnson (and his grandson).

This event is free to attend.


Screening followed by a discussion with director Aviva Kempner, intelligence analyst Richard Willing, and Henry Thomas, biographer of Walter Johnson (and his grandson).

Award-winning filmmaker Aviva Kempner has been making independent films since 1979.

A child of Holocaust survivor Helen Ciesla and Harold Kempner, a US Army officer, Kempner was born in Berlin, Germany after World War II. Her family history inspired her to produce her first documentary, Partisans of Vilna (1986), focusing on a gripping story of Jewish resistance to the Nazis. Kempner went on to write, direct and produce more films about under-known Jewish heroes. Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (2009) is an exploration of television pioneer Gertrude Berg, who received the first Best Actress Emmy in history and paved the way for women in media and entertainment. The Peabody award-winning The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (2000) brings to light the life and career of the first Jewish baseball star in the Major Leagues. Facing anti-Semitism in the ’30s and ’40s, Greenberg welcomed Jackie Robinson in his debut in 1947.

Henry W. (Hank) Thomas is the author of “Walter Johnson: Baseball’s Big Train,” winner of the Casey Award for best baseball book of 1995 as well as the SABR Research Award. The subject of his biography, Walter Johnson, is also Thomas’s grandfather. Among his many other baseball credits are the audio edition of Lawrence Ritter’s classic oral history of the early years of the game, “The Glory of Their Times,” which he co-produced and edited. A charter member of the Washington Baseball Historical Society, Thomas has authored numerous articles on baseball history and appears on a number of the MLB channel’s “Prime Nine” episodes. He has served as a consultant on several full-length documentaries, including the PBS series “Baseball” by Ken Burns and Aviva Kempner’s award-winning “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.”

Richard Willing is a former journalist and national intelligence officer who works on the headquarters team of a joint CIA, FBI, NSA and Department of Defense component. He covered forensic genetics for USA TODAY, and the White House, the Supreme Court and the NHL for The Detroit News. The first Gulf War and the Irish “Troubles,”and the Smithsonian Human Skull Archive, were among his  beats. His work has been published by the New York Times, Washington Post Style section, the NAACP Current and the Weekly Standard, and broadcast by CBC-Radio Canada, BBC-Belfast, and C-SPAN. Willing is co-author of “G-Men and Journalists,” the Freedom Forum, (2009), and author of “Whose News? CIA and the American Press, 1942-1975,” Center for the Study of Intelligence, CIA, (2015). He has taught non-fiction writing at the University of Michigan, the Urban Health Media Project, and College Summit’s high school prep program. Willing has written extensively and lectured on legal and cultural aspects of the Lincoln assassination. He is a lifelong baseball fan.



This event is free to attend.

This event finished on May 7, 2018.