MOTEL DER OPERATOR (USA, 1939) – This melodrama unfolds against the backdrop of the unionization of the garment industry in New York, in which Jews played a major role. We also see the upward economic mobility of the Jewish immigrant population. Filmed at the end of the Depression, we see how much sheer entertainment could be derived from the ticket price of 5 cents.
The first half of the 20th century was a period of profound change in the lives of Ashkenazi Jews in both Eastern Europe and North America. Yiddish films captured the joys, sorrows, pain, happiness, doubts, dilemmas and hope that accompanied the profound changes in people’s lives. In this short course, we will learn from the films that entertained our ancestors and fortified them to face the challenges of the times. Besides the historic context, the films provide insight into the transformations in the relations between Jews and non-Jews, in gender roles and in family life. Immigration to America brought not only prosperity but the challenge of assimilation, while opening at the same time the door to civic engagement that was unthinkable in the Old Country.
The course will be taught by Professor Barry H. Schneider, Ph.D., who currently teaches at the psychology department of Boston College. Barry specializes in clinical psychology; his favorite course offering is a seminar on images of mental illness in film. Barry also has some background in film studies and Jewish education. His passionate interest in Jewish film stems from his desire to learn more about his own roots (as in this course) and about the Jewish communities around the world that he has met during his career.
This is the third of four sessions, on Wednesday evenings from 7–9:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to attend all four sessions but may attend individual sessions. Each class will begin with an introduction, then the film, and, finally, an open discussion. We will enjoy watching newly restored versions of these classics. Information on all four films.
Members: $5 per film
Non-Members: $10 per film
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1187 Beacon St
Brookline, MA 02446
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