Jewish Luck
Menakhem Mendl/ Yevreiskoye Schastye

USSR, 1925, 100 minutes
B&W Silent with new English intertitles
Directed by Alexander Granovsky

with complete new English subtitles by
The National Center for Jewish Film

Buy Now

Public Exhibition Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta




Jewish Luck was among the first Soviet Yiddish films to be released in the US during the 1920s. Based on Sholem Aleichem's series of stories featuring the character Menakhem Mendl (played by the famous actor Solomon Mikhoels) the film revolves around the daydreaming entrepreneur Menakhem Mendl who specializes in doomed strike-it-rich schemes. Despite Jewish oppression by Tsarist Russia, Menakhem Mendl continues to pursue his dreams and his continued persistence transforms him from schlemiel to hero as the film uncovers the tragic underpinnings of Sholem Aleichem's comic tales. Notes Village Voice critic Georgia Brown, "The movie's best intertitle translated from Isaac Babel's Russian: `What can you do when there is nothing to do?'"

A dramatized version of the Menkhem Mendl stories was first staged by the Moscow Yiddish State Theater, under the direction of Alexander Granovsky, who later made this silent film. Jewish Luck features some of the finest artistic talents of Soviet Jewry during this period. It has been speculated that the cinematography done by Eduard Tissé inspired the filming of certain scenes in one of his later projects, Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin (Particularly the famous "Odessa steps" scene of that film, the same setting as the Jewish Luck finale). The original Russian intertitles were written by Soviet Jewish writer Isaac Babel, who later became a victim of the Stalinist purges in the late 1930s.

Selected Screenings

Cornell Cinema, Yiddish Theater Festival (2015)
Yiddish Book Center (2015)
EYE National Film Institute of the Netherlands (2013)
Jewishfilm.2011 NCJF's 14th Annual Film Festival (2011)
Bialostocki Culture Center, Bialystock Poland (2010)
Jewish Museum in Prague (2010)
Minnesota Film Arts (2009)
New York Jewish Film Festival (2009)
International Yiddish Theatre Festival of Montreal (2009)
Vancouver Jewish Film Festival (2008)
Washington DC Jewish Film Festival (2007)
Memorial de la Shoah, Paris (2007)
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles (2003)

NCJF Film Restoration

Preservation and restoration was made possible by the Niki and Alan Friedberg Foundation to honor the memory of Arnold M. Picker.


Directed by Alexander Granovsky
Based on the play by Sholem Aleichem
Starring Solomon Mikhoels, Moisei Goldblat, Tamara Adelheim
Cinematography Vasili Khatov, N. Strukow, Eduard Tissé
Production Design Natan Altman
Original Russian Intertitles Isaac Babel

1991 Restoration © The National Center for Jewish Film
Producer Sharon Pucker Rivo
Associate Producer Miriam Saul Krant
Consultant Sylvia Fuks Fried
English Intertitles Robert Szulkin
Technical Director Loren S. Miller
Title Animation Frame Shop
Laboratory John E. Allen, Inc.

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: $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 based on work by Sholem Aleichem


Laughter Through Tears

Our Children

Fiddler on the Roof


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