Without a Home
On a Heym

Poland, 1939, 88 minutes
B&W, Yiddish with English subtitles
Directed by Alexander Martin
Adapted from a stage play by Jacob Gordin

with New English Subtitles by
The National Center for Jewish Film

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Public Exhibition Formats: 16mm, Beta

Featured Screenings

Yiddish Film Festival, Segal Centre; Montreal (2013)
Montreal International Yiddish Theatre Festival (2011)
Vancouver Jewish Film Festival (2007)
Jewish Film Week, Vienna (2004)
Barbican Center for the Arts, London (1994)


The last Yiddish feature made in Poland before WWII, this 1939 film was based on a 1907 play by the prolific playwright Jacob Gordin. Best known for his folksy didacticism and moralism, Gordin brought the common life of the Lower East Side to the Yiddish stage. With over 100 plays to his credit, Gordin was a formative influence on modern Yiddish theater. He was so popular among theatergoers that reportedly a quarter of a million people attended his funeral in New York City.

Without a Home is the story of the separation and hardships faced by immigrants in America at the turn of the century. Its touching portrayal of the hardships of immigrant life enthralled Jewish theater audiences and it became part of the standard Yiddish stage repertoire in America and Poland. The film provides a poignant and dramatic picture of a difficult era, focusing on the bleak prospects for the survival of traditional Jewish family values. When the eldest son of the Rivkin family is drowned, the father leaves his family in Europe to go to America. There he finds only financial hardship and loneliness, struggling to find a way to bring the rest of his family over. The stellar cast includes stage actress Ida Kaminska and the hilarious comedy duo, Dzigan and Shumacher, who provide a healthy measure of comic relief.

The title, Without a Home, intended by Gordin to symbolize the uprooted Jewish immigrant family and by extension, the Jewish people, was a particularly poignant one for Jewish film audiences in Poland on the eve of WWII. The film underscored the growing sense among Polish Jews facing the Nazi threat and increasing antisemitism in Poland that they too might soon be "without a home."

NCJF Film Restoration

Restoration was completed with funding from S.H. and Helen R. Scheuer Family Foundation, American Jewish Historical Society, The American Film Institute, Library of Congress, The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities and The Massachusetts Cultural Council.


1991 Restoration © The National Center for Jewish Film
Executive Director Sharon Pucker Rivo
Associate Director Miriam Saul Krant
Additional Subtitles Sylvia Fuks Fried
Technical Directors Robert Borowski, Richard Pontius
Technical Assistance Bob Summers
Title Production 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: $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

Mirele Efros

God Man and Devil

Also with Shimon Dzigan & Israel Schumacher

Jolly Paupers

Our Children

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