Hester Street

Synopsis: It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East Side of New York City. He has assimilated to American life, having learned English, anglicized his name to Jake, and shaved off his beard. He is working at a $12/week job as a seamster, the money earned to be able to bring his wife Gitl and his son Yossele to America from Russia. Regardless, he has fallen in love with another woman, a dancer named Mamie Fein. Nonetheless, he is excited when he learns that Gitl and Yossele are indeed coming to America. His happiness at their arrival is dampened when he sees that Gitl is not "American" looking like Mamie and has troubles assimilating as quickly as he would like. Except to Mamie, he tries to show a public façade that everything is fine at home with Gitl. But can their marriage survive these differences, and if not, will Gitl be able to manage in this new
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Joan Micklin Silver
Production: First Run Features
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
89 min

Ah, Mamie. Mamie,

you should be nice to Mr. Lipman.

Why, may I ask?

Ain't you never heard of Lipman

and Davidowitz, men's clothes?

That's the same Lipman!

Where is this?

The old country, huh?

Is this Poland? Is this Russia?

She's a hundred percent right, Joe.

In America, you marry for love

and that's all.

Who said different?


I got quite a bit saved myself already.

An orphan got to get her own dowry.

Dowry! I thought this

was America.

I don't want no man to say,

"I had to take her just as she was,

without a penny."

So, so where you live?

I board in.

No! Me also!


I sleep in the parlor

with my landlady's two daughters.

I, I got a bed all to myself.


Well, it ain't actual a bed.

It's a...

It's a lounge.

What a bluffer you is, Jake.

You treatin'? Give a look.

What'll it be?

Where's that waiter?

Ladies and gents, meet Schloime Navasky.

Just come over this very day.

Oh! Oh! Oh! Hey!

Sit 'im right down here.


Scared to death.

Look at him.

They must have oxen

in steerage these days.

Oh, he's laughing! Look at him!

Waiter, another glass tea.



Oh! Is that a sight?

Pincus Levinsky.

Oh! I know Charlie Levinsky.

I know a Kaminsky.

I know Sora Gilinsky.


He will soon learn, in America there is

no such thing as relatives, eh?

Ah, here.

Take two. It's America!


Oh, his hat! Oh!

Hey! Welcome to America!

No, Jake, wait a minute.

Wait a minute.

What's the matter?

You got somebody else?

Look who's talking.



What about Fanny?



We work in the same shop,

and that's all.


Let's go inside.

Let me explain.

No. My landlady.

All right.


Jake. Wait.

For what?

Poor little orphan.

When you come over?

Seven years.

I come all alone from Poland

when I was 16 years old.

You speak English like a Yankee.

Thank you.

I would think you was born here.



Over here.

Bernstein, what was you

in the old country, huh?

A yeshiva student?

Sit on your tochiss all day

in the study house, huh?

And the women is bringing the food

for the scholar,

and everyone is fighting,

"Stay by my house, stay by me!

And please do me the honor

to marry with my daughter."

Well, I wasn't no boss in Lithuania.

No, sir.

Give a guess what I was.

A peddler.

Ah! I told you already?

Hmph. Some country, America.

The peddler becomes the boss,

and the yishiva bocher

sits by the sewing machine.

Some country, huh, Jake?

You betcha!

This is one of the locusts from Egypt.

Huh? Look at him.

Boss, what time?

Is 12:
00 yet?

What if it is? After 12:00,

starts all over again, ain't it?

Half after.

So you will ask, huh?

First thing I get to the house!



What's the hurry?

You're finished with Fanny, huh?

Why? You want Fanny?

That kind of a woman,

that's not for me.

So what kind of woman is for you?


So you went to the marriage broker, huh?

Mrs. Kavarsky!

A man works in my shop,

and he needs a home. Do you got?

You better be looking yourself,

Mr. Podkovnik.

They took your landlady away

to the hospital.

Her sister come for Feigle already.

Oh, wait, wait.

It come this morning so I keep for you.

Go. Leave me in peace.

What's the matter?

Read it.


My wife?

My son?

Your father has been freed.

May he have a bright paradise.

Oh, excuse me, missus.

Who is the landlord in this house?


Would you...

Would you tell him Podkovnik

will take the place?

Oh? For what you need

a whole apartment?

Mr. Podkovnik getting married maybe?

It's too much trouble?

Don't get excited.

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Joan Micklin Silver

Joan Micklin Silver (born May 24, 1935) is an American director. She was born Joan Micklin in Omaha, Nebraska, the daughter of Doris (Shoshone) and Maurice David Micklin. She received her B.A. From Sarah Lawrence College. In 1956, she married Raphael D. Silver, with whom she has 3 daughters; Raphael's father was Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver. Her early low-budget film Hester Street received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for actress Carol Kane. Her 1977 film Between the Lines was entered into the 27th Berlin International Film Festival. She is also known for the film Crossing Delancey which was released in 1988 and stars Amy Irving. She also conceived and directed the musical revue A... My Name Is Alice with Julianne Boyd. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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