A Vilna Legend
Dem Rebns Koyekh

Reissue of Tkies-kaf/ The Vow (Poland, 1924)
USA, 1933, 60 minutes
B&W, Yiddish narration with English subtitles

Directed by Zygmunt Turkow (1924 Credits)
Directed by George Roland (1933 Credits)

with new English subtitles by
The National Center for Jewish Film

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Public Exhibition Formats: 35mm, 16mm


Few reminders are left of the vibrant Yiddish theatrical world that flourished in Warsaw in the 1920s. This film is one of them. Jewish producers were preeminent in the interwar Polish film industry but, due to the pervasive antisemitism of the early '20s, they shied away from films dealing with Jewish themes. It was not until 1924 that amateurs, Henryk Bojm and Leo Forbert, adapted a Peretz Hirshbein play for the screen. Ambitiously mounted, professionally cast, it was one of the most successful Jewish cinematic efforts undertaken up to that time.

An even more elaborate version of the same story, also titled Tkies-kaf was made by Henryk Szaro in Warsaw in 1937 (also starring Zygmunt Turkow). However in 1933, a group of Yiddish actors decided to give the original silent film gem a new lease on life. They added an audible narration and several new scenes (those in the tavern) which gave dramatic justification to the narrative form. Adapted like this, the film had a brief revival before lapsing back into obscurity.

A precursor to the 1937 classic, The Dybbuk, A Vilna Legend features the same classic tale of frustrated love and destiny and the breaking/fulfillment of vows. A yeshiva student and an orphan girl who are deeply in love face eternal separation even though their parents promised them to each other before birth. Only the prophet Elijah's miraculous intervention allows their parents to fulfill their vow and the couple their love.

Selected Screenings

Medias Central European Film Festival (2014)
Montreal International Yiddish Theatre Festival (2011)
Toronto Jewish Film Festival (2004)
New York Jewish Film Festival (2004)
Stockholm Jewish Film Festival (2004)
Jerusalem International Film Festival (2003)
Washington DC Jewish Film Festival (2003)
Barbican Center for the Arts, London (1996)

NCJF Film Restoration

Preservation and restoration was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Foundation in memory of Gladys & Saul Gwirtzman, Women's Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film and Television, and by Claire & Albert Schussler in honor of their parents Celia & Jacob Grossman and Ida & Harry Schussler.


1924 Silent Production - Poland
Director Zygmunt Turkow
Producers Henrik Baum, Leo Forbert
Screenplay Henrik Baum
Based on the play by Peretz Hirshbein
Photography Severn Steinvorzl

Zygmunt Turkow (Elijah)
Adam Domb (Chaym Kronberg)
Moshe Litman (Boruch Mandel)
Lev Mogilov (Schmuhl Levine)
Simcha Balanoff (Jacob Mandel)
Ida Kaminska (Rachel Kronberg)
Esther-Rokhl Kaminska (Mrs. Kronberg)

1933 Sound Production - USA
Director George Roland
Screenplay Jacob Mestel
Narrator Joseph Buloff

Jacob Mestel
Leib Kadison
Benjamin Fishbein
Ben Basenko

1980, 2002 Restorations © The National Center for Jewish Film
Executive Director Sharon Pucker Rivo
Associate Director Miriam Saul Krant
Technical Director Rich Pontius
Translator David Fishman
Title Animation Frame Shop
Laboratory Cinema Arts, Inc.

Home Use DVD: $29.95

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


Classroom/Library Use DVD: $150

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 with Zygmunt Turkow

The Jester

Jolly Paupers

The Vow

Also Directed by George Roland

Love and Sacrifice

The Wandering Jew

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