A Tale of Two Museums
Ester Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Collection

The Yiddish Film Industry

photo film Rokhl Holzer  btwn Box92171.jpg
Jazz Singer box 37034.jpg
photo Molly Picon Box94151.jpg


The Yiddish Film Industry


The first synchronous Yiddish-language talkie was produced in 1929, only 18 months after the first (ever) talkie, The Jazz Singer, which, remarkably, centered on the experiences of a Jewish performer. The interwar period saw the accelerated growth of the Yiddish-language film industry that brought movie-makers and directors from America to shoot scenes of authentic Jewish life in Poland.  The biggest hits of the Golden Age (1935-1939) were Yidl With his Fiddle (Yidl Mitn Fidl)Green Fields (Grine Felder) and The Dybbuk (Der dibek).

In Yidl Mitn Fidl, Picon's character disguises herself as a boy in order to escape an arranged marriage and perform with a band of klezmorim. With the exception of Picon, the rest of the cast was drawn from Warsaw's various theatrical ensembles. Here, Picon also cross-dresses to play the title character Shmendrik, a movie based on the 1877 operetta composd by the theater's founder, Avrom Goldfaden.

Actress Molly Picon (1898-1992) in Shmendrik; Rokhl Holzer in Al Khet; and Ida Kaminska as The Jazz Singer on the Polish-Yiddish stage




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“The Yiddish Film Industry,” YIVO Online Exhibitions, accessed February 29, 2024, https://ataleoftwomuseums.yivo.org/items/show/2232.
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