If I Forget Synopsis

It is July 2000: The Gore / Bush / Nader election cycle is in full swing, the Camp David Accords have fallen apart and Israel is heading into the second intifada. The Fischers, a modern Jewish family, reunite at the family’s Tenleytown homestead to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday, one year after their mother’s death. They include Lou’s oldest daughter Holly, her wealthy second husband Howard, and her teenage son, Joey; his middle child Michael, in town from Brooklyn with his wife, Ellen (not-Jewish); and his youngest daughter Sharon, a recently single kindergarten teacher and the most observant Jew in the family—or was, at least, until she found her boyfriend and her temple’s cantor in bed together.

The party is punctuated with updates from Michael and Ellen’s daughter Abby, who has had a rough year at college and is currently on a Birthright Israel trip. Talk turns to Sharon's bond with the Guatemalan family who are renting the family's 14th Street storefront, Holly’s plans (still secret from her sister) to renovate the store to house the interior design business she’s hoping to start, and Michael’s recent recommendation for tenure—as he finishes edits on the manuscript for his book, Forgetting the Holocaust, which links the specter of Holocaust to the power of American Jews, whom he sees as having an outsized influence in the Middle East. His siblings disagree with his argument, but one opinion hangs unspoken: that of their father, a World War II veteran and American Jew. Michael sent it to his father six months prior, but Lou hasn’t acknowledged it.

Seven months later, the siblings reassemble. Lou has had a stroke, the fortunes of the other siblings have also changed, and in an all-out battle for control of the family properties, the Fischers try to keep the clan together despite differing views, as they reckon with the fault lines of political and cultural identities and consider what is worth sacrificing for a new beginning.

—Genevieve Henderson