Mirele Efros

USA, 1939, 80 minutes
B&W, Yiddish with new English subtitles
Directed by Josef Berne
Based on a play by Jacob Gordin

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Public Exhibition Format: 16mm, Beta

"Mirele Efros is likely the single most widely played piece in the Yiddish theatrical canon."
-J. Hoberman, Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds


Mirele Efros, "the Jewish Queen Lear," was the masterpiece of Ukrainian-born Jacob Gordin, an enormously influential Yiddish playwright whose works sought to describe and promulgate the ethos of mentshlekhkeyt: the practice of honesty, decency, and devotion toward family and community. This sophisticated version of his stage classic faithfully recreates Jewish life in turn-of-the-century Grodno, Poland.

Berta Gersten gives a memorable performance as Mirele, a wealthy and pious widow whose devotion to her children extends to hand-picking a wife for her eldest son, gravely mistaking the young woman's character as giving and devout. The resulting conflict between the noble Jewish matriarch and her ungrateful, self-serving daughter-in-law provides both a cautionary tale and a lesson in the value of filial piety.

Selected Screenings

Doc Films, University of Chicago (2014)
Toronto Jewish Film Society (2009)
International Yiddish Festival, Amsterdam (1996)
Barbican Center for the Arts (1996)

NCJF Film Restoration

Restoration was completed with funding from Henry J. Everett, Ruth Fein, David R. Pokross and Bernard Wax


Director Josef Berne
Producer Roman Rebush
Script Ossip Dymow
Based on the play by Jacob Gordin
Photography J. Bergi Contner
Music Vladimir Heifetz
Editor Leslie Vidor
Production Company Credo Pictures

1978 Restoration © The National Center for Jewish Film
Producer Sharon Pucker Rivo
Director Henry Felt
Subtitles David Fishman
Prologue Michael Swirsky
Production Assistant Fredda Band Loewenstein
Production Assistant Miriam Saul Krant
Animation Edward T. Joyce
Camera Phred Churchill, Jeffery Liberman, Anne Schaefer

Berta Gersten (Mirele Efros)
Michael Rosenberg (Nekhumtse)
Ruth Elbaum (Sheyndl)
Albert Lipton (Yosele)
Sarah Krohner (Khana-Dvoire)
Moishe Feder (Shalmen)
Louis Brandt (Donye)
Paula Walter (Makhle)
Jerry Rosenberg (Sheyndl)
Ella Brouner (Dine)
Ruben Wendroff (Badkhn)
Jacob Mestel (Pogorelsky)
Moishe Schorr (Coachman)
Eugene Sigaloff (Peasant)
Clara Deutchman (Barwoman)

Home Use DVD: $29.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information


Classroom/Library Use DVD: $250

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information

Digital Site Licensing (DSL) available - Contact us

Step down pricing for K-12 & public libraries may be available - Contact us

Arrange a screening - Contact us


Also based on a Jacob Gordin play

God, Man and Devil

Without a Home

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