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A Short Review of Yiddish Films From Around the World With Clips and Commentary
A program hosted by Itzik Gottesman

An interview with Prof. Ber Kotlerman, Bar-Ilan University



From the 1939 Yiddish film "Overture To Glory" (Der Vilner Shtot Khazn "The Vilnius City Cantor").
Questionably described by Hal Erikson in his "All Movie Guide" as "one of the last Yiddish-language films produced in the United States" (and the first American film of German director Max Nosseck) Overture to Glory stars the great musical performer and Cantor, Moishe Oysher. Starring Helen Beverly and Florence Weiss (Oysher's wife), with a musical score by Alexander Oshanetsky, Oysher is the "Vilner Balabesl", a cantor in Vilnius, with a renowned voice. Two men come from the Warsaw Opera to hear him sing in the Rosh Hashanah service and are so impressed that they introduce him to European classical music and to reading sheet music; they convince him, against the wishes of much of his family (and especially his father-in-law) to become an opera singer in Warsaw. He leaves his job as the Vilnius cantor, and seems at first to be on the path to fame and fortune as an opera star in Warsaw, when the news arrives that his son has died. Grief-stricken, he stumbles over the aria he is supposed to sing, starting instead into a lullaby he used to sing to his son. In disgrace, he also loses his voice; he tries to return to his life in Vilna; finally, his voice comes briefly back to him on Yom Kippur. He sings the first few lines of the "Kol Nidre", then dies of a heart attack. Reviews: "...one of the major events of the Jewish cinema... Moishe Oysher's voice is truly magnificent...." The New York Post "The entire film is done with exquisite restraint... Moishe Oysher's acting and singing are excellent... the music is magnificent, the finest that Alexander Olshanetsky has ever written... truly an artstic and beautiful triumph of the Yiddish cinema...." William Edline, The Day (Der Tag) "Seldom has the Jewish faith been more nobly and beautifully espoused as it is in this film.... A milestone in the course of Yiddish film making." Robert W. Dana, The New York Herald Tribune.


On October 20, 2007 Yiddishkayt Los Angeles presented UNA NOCHE IDISHE, a celebration of the rich Jewish/Yiddish culture of Argentina.

This boisterous, trilingual evening of dance, film, Yiddish tangos, klezmer music, theater and comedy played to two sold out audiences at REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater in the Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex.

This segment features Divina Gloria singing "Papirosn" (Cigarettes), a Yiddish song written by Herman Yablokoff about an orphan boy selling cigarettes in the rain in German-occupied Grodno during World War I.

The performance featured artists that embrace both their Eastern European Jewish and Argentine identities, including Los Angeles-based Argentine clarinetist Gustavo Bulgach and his Grammy-nominated ensemble Klezmer Juice, popular Argentine singer and actress Divina Gloria, and Schwee Miguel with dancers from his Tango Ganas dance company.

For more information on UNA NOCHE IDISHE and Yiddishkayt Los Angeles,


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