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Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day is a national commemoration day in the United Kingdom dedicated to the remembrance of those who suffered in the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

27 January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

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Rachel Century, Head of  Research for The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said: “Film can be crucial in discovering more about and discussing the impact of genocide, and can bring a group together as they discuss the issues raised.”

To mark this day with a film, we here at Birds’ Eye View will be watching Hester Street (1975), adapted and directed by Joan Micklin Silver from Abraham Cahan’s late 19th-century novella Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto, about immigrants to New York.

Shot in black and white, the film is essentially a chamber piece and tells the story of Yankl (Steven Keats) who wants to assimilate into American culture, and his wife Gitl (Carol Kane in an Oscar-nominated performance) who struggles to give up her sense of tradition. As with many communities, Jewish women have struggled to find a voice. In the film we see Gitl reluctantly being forced to assimilate. The film poses the important question as to whether women really are that much more liberated within modern western society – a question that still resonates among modern day immigrant communities.





Joan Micklin Silver (1935-2020) was an American director of films and plays. Born in Omaha, Silver moved to New York City in 1967 where she began writing and directing films. She is best known for Hester Street, her first feature; and Crossing Delancey.

cklin Silver (1935-2020) was an American director of films and plays. Born in Omaha, Silver moved to New York City in 1967 where she began writing and directing films. She is best known for Hester Street, her first feature; and Crossing Delancey.

“I grew up feeling very, very aware of being Jewish and feeling proud of that. I went to school and I remember classes where I was the only Jew, and I would know that because I was the only one who wasn’t in school on the holidays.”  Joan Micklin Silver


This marvellously evocative study of Jewish immigrant life in turn-of-the-century New York, mainly told in delightfully subtitled Yiddish, features an outstanding lead performance from the Oscar-nominated Carol Kane.” Radio Times

This marvellously evocative study of Jewish immigrant life in turn-of-the-century New York, mainly told in delightfully subtitled Yiddish, features an outstanding lead performance from the Oscar-nominated Carol Kane.” Radio Times

“Joan Micklin Silver, the filmmaker whose first feature, “Hester Street,” expanded the marketplace for American independent film and broke barriers for women in directing.” NY Times

“Joan Micklin Silver, the filmmaker whose first feature, “Hester Street,” expanded the marketplace for American independent film and broke barriers for women in directing.” NY Times

In 2011, Hester Street was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

“This marvellously evocative study of Jewish immigrant life in turn-of-the-century New York, mainly told in delightfully subtitled Yiddish, features an outstanding lead performance from the Oscar-nominated Carol Kane.” Radio Times

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“This marvellously evocative study of Jewish immigrant life in turn-of-the-century New York, mainly told in delightfully subtitled Yiddish, features an outstanding lead performance from the Oscar-nominated Carol Kane.” Radio Times






TO WATCH HESTER STREET  – CLICK HERE

Light a candle at 8pm on Holocaust Memorial Day

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