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Description

Mirele Efros, "the Jewish Queen Lear," was the masterpiece of Ukrainian-born Jacob Gordin, an enormously influential Yiddish playwright whose works sought to describe and promulgate the ethos of mentshlekhkeyt: the practice of honesty, decency, and devotion toward family and community. This sophisticated version of his stage classic faithfully recreates Jewish life in turn-of-the-century Grodno, Poland.

Berta Gersten gives a memorable performance as Mirele, a wealthy and pious widow whose devotion to her children extends to hand-picking a wife for her eldest son, gravely mistaking the young woman's character as giving and devout. The resulting conflict between the noble Jewish matriarch and her ungrateful, self-serving daughter-in-law provides both a cautionary tale and a lesson in the value of filial piety.

 

USA, 1939, 80 minutes
B&W, Yiddish with new English subtitles
Directed by Josef Berne
Based on a play by Jacob Gordin

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