The Cantor's Son
Dem Khazns Zundyl

USA, 1937, 90 minutes
B&W, Yiddish with English subtitles
Directed by Ilya Motyleff (& Sidney Goldin, uncredited)

with New English Subtitles by
The National Center for Jewish Film

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Public Exhibition Formats: 35mm

“May be the most exhilarating example yet exhumed of the once-thriving, completely global Yiddish cinema."
-The Boston Phoenix Mar 25, 2008

"More than being a pastoral romance or a glorified cantorial, The Cantor's Son is an anti-Jazz Singer with Louis Freiman's script designed to dramatize Oysher's return to the fold."
-J. Hoberman, Bridge of Light

"One of the most enjoyable movies... The black and white restoration is fantastic, and the musical numbers are plentiful."
- Ed Symkus, CNC & Tab newspapers (4/2/2008)

"A deft combination of comedy, romance and outstanding music, this new Jewish picture will appeal tremendously to the Jewish fans. A fine cast, well-done story and deft direction, combined with an unusually beautiful musical score make this one of the most outstanding Jewish pictures produced in this country"
- Film Daily (Dec. 1937)



This Yiddish feature film musical drama marks the screen debut of singer and cantor Moishe Oysher (Overture to Glory and The Singing Blacksmith). Shot in Pennsylvania near the Pocono Mountains, the film features Oysher in the title role of a wayward youth who makes his way from his Polish shtetl to New York's Lower East Side (the film includes rare glimpses of the Lower East Side and of 2nd Avenue Yiddish theater marquees of the period). While washing floors in a nightclub several years later he is “discovered” and becomes a well-known singer. Ultimately, Oysher's character returns home to the Old Country and reunites with his parents and his childhood sweetheart.

In his book on Yiddish cinema Bridge of Light, critic J. Hoberman calls The Cantor’s Son an "anti-Jazz Singer," further remarking that the film's story parallels Oysher's own struggle to reconcile his cantorial calling with a career in show business. Like his film character, Oysher, born in Bessarabia the son and grandson of cantors, was both a matinee idol and a celebrated cantor. Oysher was married to his co-star Florence Weiss.

After film director Sidney M. Goldin (Uncle Moses, East and West) suffered a fatal heart attack during the production of The Cantor’s Son, he was replaced by Stanislavsky-protege Ilya Motlyeff, who is credited as the film’s director. The film's score (including the sentimental song "Mayn Shtetele Betz") was composed by Alexander Olshanetsky, a concert violinist and veteran of the 2nd Avenue Yiddish theater.

Selected Screenings

Yiddish Film Festival at Yale University (2015)
Southampton Jewish Film Festival (2015)
Medias Central European Film Festival (2014)
Houston Jewish Film Festival (2013)
Washington Jewish Film Festival (2013)
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (2012)
Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Vancouver Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Krakow Jewish Culture Festival (2010)
Lenore Marwil Jewish Film Festival (2009)
Vienna Jewish Film Festival, Vienna Film Archive (2008)
Festival of Jewish Cinema, Australia (Sydney & Melbourne) (2007)
Stockholm Jewish Film Festival (2007)
Rochester Jewish Film Festival (2007)
Vienna Jewish Film Festival (2007)
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE New York Jewish Film Festival (2007)
WORLD PREMIERE Jerusalem Film Festival (2006)

NCJF Film Restoration

Preservation and restoration to honor the memory of Miriam Saul Krant by her friends and colleagues.

Restoration was completed with funding from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation and National Foundation for Jewish Culture.

2006 Restoration © The National Center for Jewish Film
Executive Director Sharon Pucker Rivo
Associate Director Miriam Saul Krant
Technical Director Rich Pontius
Educational Consultant Sylvia Fuks Fried
Translators Dr. Stephen R. Simons, Peter A. Stark
Title Animation Frame Shop
Laboratory Cinema Arts, Inc


Directors Ilya Motyleff & Sidney Goldin (uncredited)
Producers Arthur Block & Samuel M. Segal (Eron Pictures, Inc.)
Screenplay Louis Frieman
Dialogue Mark Schweid
Photographed by Frank Zucker
Edited by Leonard Weiss
Sound Recording Clarence Wall
Art Director Robert van Rosen
Musical Score Composed and Directed by Alexander Olshanetsky

Moishe Oysher (Saul 'Shloimele' Reichman)
Florence Weiss (Helen)
Judith Abarbanel (Rivke)
Michael Rosenberg (Yossel Lutchik)
Judah Bleich (Cantor Zanvel Reichman)
Isidore Cashier (W.H. Rosovitch)
Bertha Guttenberg (Malke Reichman)
Irving Honigman (Ben)
Rose Wallerstein (Clara)
Lorraine Abarbanel (Young Rivke)
Vicky Marcus (Young Saul)

Purchase the Film

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 starring Moishe Oysher

Singing in the Dark

Overture to Glory

The Singing Blacksmith

Singing in the Dark

Great Cantors 2 Disc Set

Also directed by Sidney M. Goldin

A Cantor on Trial

East and West

His Wife's Lover

Uncle Moses


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