Bridge of Light

Yiddish Film between Two Worlds

J. Hoberman
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-404-8
Publication: Sep 95

416 pages
8 x 9.25
180 halftones

Critically acclaimed history of Jewish Film reissued in paper edition


This fascinating cultural and social history places Yiddish-language cinema in the contexts of twentieth-century Jewish history, the history of motion pictures—particularly in the United States, Poland, and the Soviet Union—and the development of Yiddish secular culture. From the legendary moviehouses and figures to the classic and forgotten films, Bridge of Light is a testament to Yiddish cinema's glory days and an homage to it in its decline.


"Prodigiously researched and critically astute, this is a readable work of scholarship that takes a well-earned place as the most authoritative word on a very curious corner of film history."
Los Angeles Times Book Review

"(A) much-needed spur to revival and reappraisal. If the story of Yiddish cinema is basically, as J. Hoberman puts it, 'the passage from shtetl to city, from Old Country to New World,' he conveys this movement with a vividness of detail that matches the vitality of his subject. Through Yiddish films, he traces the passages inherent in Jewish experience—from profound loss to resilience, and from nostalgia to pungent irony."
New York Times Book Review

"An important addition to works on Jewish film and film-making, and an invaluable resource..."
Sight and Sound

"(A)s both a labor of love and a work of scholarship, Bridge of Light is highly impressive."

"... J. Hoberman's beautifully mounted and superbly researched survey of the entire range of Yiddish film-making...(is) a tribute, indeed a monument, to a world lost forever in the ashes of history."
Film Quarterly

Table of Contents

Author's Note
Introduction: A Brivele der Mamen
1. Wandering Stars
2. Romance in the Ghetto
3. "The Face of the Earth Will Change"
4. Nineteen-Nineteen
5. Out of Galicia
6. Miracles on the Vistula
7. Yiddish Modernism and Jewish Luck
8. The Prince of Second Avenue
9. Making It in America
10. Once Upon a Time in the Ukraine
11. The Polish Forest
12. The Theatre of the Future
13. Jews of Steel
14. The Faryidisht Film
15. Between Rusland and Daytshland
16. Shund
17. "We're on Our Way"
18. The Greening of Yiddish Film
19. The Cantor's Sons
20. On the Edge of the Abyss
21. Without a Home
22. Phantom Europe
23. Married to America
24. The Living Remnant
Epilogue: A Post Yiddish Cinema
Appendix A: Joseph Burstyn's Documentaries
Appendix B: Partial Yiddish Talkies
Appendix C: Recycled Yiddish Films
Notes on Sources
Selected Bibliography
Photograph Credits

About the Author(s)

J. Hoberman, film critic at The Village Voice since 1978, is the author of Vulgar Modernism (Temple), which was nominated for the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award, and co-author (with Jonathan Rosenbaum) of Midnight Movies. He has written for numerous national publications, including Artforum, The New York Times, The Nation, The New Republic, and Premiere.