Programming and providing support for this service has been a labor
of love since 1997. We are one of the few services online who values our users'
privacy, and have never sold your information. We have even fought hard to defend your
privacy in legal cases; however, we've done it with almost no financial support -- paying out of pocket
to continue providing the service. Due to the issues imposed on us by advertisers, we
also stopped hosting most ads on the forums many years ago. We hope you appreciate our efforts.
Show your support by donating any amount. (Note: We are still technically a for-profit company, so your
contribution is not tax-deductible.)
Hester Street tells the story of Jewish immigrants who come to the Lower East Side of New York City in 1896 from Eastern Europe, and who live on Hester Street in Manhattan. When Yankle first comes to the U.S., he quickly assimilates into American culture, and becomes Jake (Steven Keats). He also begins to have an affair with Mamie (Dorrie Kavanaugh), a dancer. His wife, Gitl (Carol Kane), who arrives later with their son, Yossele, has difficulty assimilating. Tension arises in their marriage as Jake continually upbraids and abuses Gitl. Additionally, Jake continues to see Mamie, which Gitl later discovers through Mrs. Kavarsky (Doris Roberts), a neighbor. Jake and Gitl ultimately divorce, whereby Gitl takes all of Mamie's money and marries Bernstein (Mel Howard), a faithful traditionalist. By the end of the film, she is sartorially and lingually assimilated — walking down the street with Bernstein and Yossele (now known as Joey), speaking English, and showing her hair. But she is now liberated from Jake, who in turn has married Mamie.
The film is noteworthy for its detailed reconstruction of Jewish immigrant life in New York at the turn of the century - much of the dialogue is delivered in Yiddish with English subtitles - and was part of the wave of films released in the late 1960s and through the 1970s which began explicitly to deal with the complexities of American Jewish identity. In addition, Carol Kane's lead character posed a still-provocative synthesis as she discovers her own self-assertion on behalf of her right to maintain a traditional identity in an aggressively modern setting.
Isabelle Grossman works for a New York bookstore which supports authors through public readings. When author Anton Maes (Jeroen Krabbé), comes to the bookstore to give a reading, he shows an interest in Isabelle, who is enamored with the intellectual world that is very different from her traditional Jewish upbringing.
Isabelle pays frequent visits to her Bubbie (grandmother), Ida (played by Yiddish theatre star Reizl Bozyk in her only film role), who lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Anxious for her granddaughter to settle down, Ida turns to the local marriage broker (Sylvia Miles). Although shocked and annoyed, Isabelle allows the matchmaker to introduce her to Sam Posner (Peter Riegert), who owns the pickle shop.
At first Isabelle is not interested in Sam, believing that he is too working-class for her. Instead, she sets her sights on Anton and the New York intelligentsia. But she also feels guilty for how rude she was to Sam, so she tries to make it up to him by setting him up with her girlfriend Marilyn. In the process, she learns that he did not hire a matchmaker out of desperation and in fact has admired Isabelle from afar for several years. She is deeply touched and begins to like him, but it seems Sam has given up on her and starts dating Marilyn.
One day at a book reading Sam shows up. Anton arrives as well. Isabelle leaves with Sam, and later agrees to meet him the next day at her grandmother's house. After work, however, she is sidelined by Anton and, believing that he is romantically interested in her, goes to his apartment. She discovers instead that Anton wants the convenience of an assistant, not a true partner. Finally seeing through him, the disgusted Isabelle races to her grandmother's apartment, finding it empty with Ida sleeping on the couch. Heartbroken, she believes she has ruined her chances with the honest and caring Sam. As she cries, Sam enters from the balcony. The two finally are united and Ida feigns confusion, but is gleeful that her plan has succeeded.
Next Thread |
Previous Thread |
Next Message |