Yiddish Cinema

Yiddish cinema must be unique in the annals of world film history as the only manifestation of a major filmmaking enterprise not primarily associated with a "national" entity. We might say, at the very least, that Yiddish cinema was the first truly transnational cinema, but one which ironically and perhaps ultimately tragically lacked a foundation in a national setting, that is, in a nation or a unique, sovereign state. A transnational cinema without the national, Yiddish cinema represents the cinematic flowering of a people living in far-flung places on the globe, but who shared a culture that crossed boundaries of space and, as the years have gone by, of time. A true Yiddish cinema awaited the coming of sound, for its distinctive and defining characteristic seems intuitively to be the use of the Yiddish language. Nevertheless, as an expression of Yiddish culture ( Yiddishkeit ), one sees a burgeoning Yiddish cinema in the silent era, although it was indeed the sound cinema that created the masterpieces of this unique cultural and cinematic form.

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