It’s painful for a Jewish film critic to write this. Given that Yiddish cinema was decimated by assimilation and by genocide, a contemporary Yiddish language film should be a cause for celebration. And I laud Weinstein’s impulse to represent on-screen Haredis who choose to remain in the community. Some of the positive press on this film is no doubt a desire to celebrate Yiddish and to diversify representations of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Yet I also suspect that the clichéd images of male Hasids happy only when they’re singing and drinking appeal because these Hasids are simultaneously other and yet recognizable as a contemporary boy’s club.
Helene Meyers is Professor of English and McManis University Chair at Southwestern University. She is the author of Identity Papers: Contemporary Narratives of American Jewishness, Femicidal Fears: Narratives of the Female Gothic Experience, and Reading Michael Chabon. Her current book project is on Jewish American cinema.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.