A review of Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing
by Barbara J. Berg
Abe Osheroff leans forward in his chair as he ponders how we can lead the politically engaged life he considers central to being fully alive. Such musings are common, but what's striking is that the 90-year-old Osheroff is not simply looking back and reflecting on his rich life of activism but thinking about what still lies ahead for him.
So begins the deeply moving documentary Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing, Abe Osheroff's story of breathtaking courage and commitment. With Osheroff's opening monologue, director Nadeem Uddin brilliantly establishes the dominant theme of this work: How does an individual live righteously in an unrighteous world?
Osheroff spent his entire life answering that question -- not with erudite philosophical treatises -- although as he demonstrated many times, he was more than capable of doing so -- but with a simple unfailing passion to better humankind. To become a citizen of the world in the truest, fullest sense of the word. Wavering, quitting, or succumbing to the fear often stalking him were never options. He needed, as he said, to like the face he saw in the mirror each morning.
His was an inner determination sculptured by the inescapable inequities of his youth in a Brooklyn ghetto. The grinding desperation of the factory workers, the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, the shameless evictions of impoverished tenants, these whittled away all traces of passivity and self-preservation to leave a fierce uncompromising will. From his earliest days he became determined to fight what those on the left call "the good fight." And he did so wherever it took him.