“Browsing Through Birke’s” tells the tale of survival, and a Lowell landmark

Sally Birke at Birke's Department Store, 2004. (Joe Quinlan Photography)

Tuesday, May 18  |  6PM
Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center
246 Market Street, Lowell
Free admission!

6 – 7PM: Visit with Sally Birke and family members – share  your memories of Birke’s!
7 – 8PM: Watch “Browsing Through Birke’s”
8 – 9PM: Discussion, Q&A
9PM: Head across the street to Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus (the Birke Building) for more story-sharing!

When Nathan and Sala (Sally) Birke started their lives in Lowell in the 1940’s, they’d spent years enduring the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. Their story of survival, perseverance, and success comes to life in the witty and poignant documentary Browsing Through Birke’s, produced and directed with great intimacy by L.A. filmmaker Steven D. Grossman. As associate producer, Nathan and Sally’s daughter Szifra Birke also appears in the film, sharing her own recollections of childhood while guiding us through the lives of her mother and father. For those who don’t know anything about downtown Lowell’s Birke’s Department Store, this film will make you wish you had the chance to experience this local phenomenon. But for those who did visit the Market Street landmark — now residential space known as The Birke Building — memories will come flooding back, especially if you were fortunate enough to make it through the doors to browse the countless racks of modern and vintage clothes. Birke’s was not only a treasure trove of colorful garments, but of memories and life stories, told to visitors by Nathan and Sally Birke themselves.

For anyone who was “thrown” out of Birke’s for browsing, we hope you will come share your story. And if you are reading this wondering “why would anyone be thrown out of a business establishment?” — this documentary cannot be missed! As a special treat, this premiere film event will be graced with a guest appearance by Sally Birke herself, an amazing woman who endured so much and who also gave so much to others. The evening will include an introduction by Szifra Birke and plenty of memory-sharing by locals and friends. If you visited the store before it closed its doors in 2004, we hope you will come share your own stories of Nathan and Sally, and of browsing through Birke’s. Read more about Nathan and Sally and Birke’s Department Store courtesy of UMass Lowell’s Center for Lowell History.

Get a sneak peek at Browsing Through Birke’s — thank you to our friend and supporter Eric Sack for producing this trailer:


Published by Lowell Film Collaborative

The Lowell Film Collaborative is a grassroots initiative in Lowell, MA, whose mission is to bring more cinematic awareness to the community.

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