Uncle Moses

USA, 1932, 87 minutes
B&W, Yiddish with new English subtitles
Directed by Sidney Goldin and Aubrey Scotto
Based on the novel by Sholom Asch

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

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Public Exhibition Formats: 16mm, Beta

"Uncle Moses stands as one of the finest examples of Yiddish cinema and is unique in its portrayal of a despotic Jewish factory boss who takes pleasure in seeing the tables turned by employing the former leaders and highly respected men of his shtetl as sweatshop tailors. Uncle Moses is a harsh man who uses his wealth and power to fight against unionization of his shop (by a young idealistic Jew) and manipulate women, especially the daughters of his workers.
-J. Hoberman, Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds

"Here is a chance to see one of the century's greatest actors (Maurice Schwartz) in a melodrama focusing on work and tenement life in the Lower East Side."
-Georgia Brown, The Village Voice

"A symphony of contradictions, which Schwartz orchestrates brilliantly."
-Richard Corliss, Time


When poverty and persecution compel his Polish landsmen to leave their shtetl, "Uncle" Moses, the crude and lusty former butcher, welcomes them to the promised land of his Lower East Side clothing factory. A master in the harsh new American system, with its fourteen-hour workday, Moses attempts to reconstruct the lost harmony of the shtetl community in the paternalistic order of his sweatshop. He uses his wealth to show off and leaves the daily operations to his nephew Sam.

When Masha Melnick pleads him for her father's job, Moses, taken with the girl, rehires him. Masha also happens to be the sweetheart of Charlie, a labor activist who is trying to organize a union in Moses' factory. Moses begins to court Masha who agrees to marry him in order to improve her family's desperate financial position. She bears his child but confesses she feels wretched because she did not listen to her heart and marry Charlie who incites the workers to strike. The first Yiddish talkie engaged directly in the progressive currents of the day, political and aesthetic.

Selected Screenings

University of Michigan, Frankel Center for Judaic Studies (2014)
Chicago YIVO Society Summer Festival of Yiddish Culture (2013)
New Center for Arts and Culture, Boston (2008)
Vienna Jewish Film Festival, Vienna Film Archive (2008)
Festival of Jewish Cinema, Australia (2007)
Deutsches Film Museum, Germany (2006)
Museum of the Moving Image, New York (2004)
Schauburg Film Theatre, Germany (2003)
Berliner Film Kunsthaus Babylon, Germany (1997)
Laemmle Theater, Los Angeles (1997)
Barbican Center for the Arts, London (1996)
Tucson Jewish Film Festival (1995)
Pacific Film Archive, California (1995)
Vienna Jewish Film Festival, Austria (1995)
Arbeitskreis Film, Germany (1993)
Goethe Institute, Italy (1993)
Danish Filmmuseum, Denmark (1993)
Swedish FilmInst, Sweden (1993)
Milwaukee Jewish Film Festival (1992)

NCJF Film Restoration

Restoration was completed with funding from the family and friends of Edythe & Louis Julius Saul with additional support from Brandeis University, American Jewish Historical Society, American Film Institute, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanties, Massachusetts Cultural Council and from Library of Congress.


Directors Sidney M. Goldin & Aubrey Scotto
Screenplay Maurice Schwartz
Based on the novel by Sholem Asch
Assistant Directors Shimen Rushkin, Frank Melford
Art Director Anthony Continer
Technical Director Charles Nasca
Film Editor Bob Snody
Photography Frank Zucker, Buddy Harris
Recording Engineers Marc S. Asch, Gerre Barton, Armond Schettini
Musical Director Samuel Polonsky
Gowns Brenner Bros., New York

1998 Restoration © The National Center for Jewish Film
Executive Director Sharon Pucker Rivo
Associate Director Miriam Saul Krant
Research Consultant Sylvia Fuks Fried
Technical Director Robert Borowski
Translator Sylvia Fuks Fried
Production Assistant Arlene Miller
Laboratory John E. Allen, Inc.
Titles Sean Coughlin

Maurice Schwartz (Uncle Moses)
Rubin Goldberg
(Alter Melnick)
Judith Abarbanell
Zvee Scooler
Mark Scweid
(Aaron Melnick)
Sally Schor
Rebecca Weintraub
Jacob Mestel
Sam Gertler
Leon Seidenberg
Wolf Goldfaden
Abe Sincoff
(Zalmen Shoichet)
Shirley Zelazo
Michael Gibson
(Moishe Gross)
Ben-Zion Katz

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 directed by Sidney M. Goldin

A Cantor on Trial

The Cantor's Son (Uncredited)

East and West

His Wife's Lover


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