“Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish”

The world’s most famous love story told the Yiddish way.

On Sunday night, when the curtains opened and the first actors appeared on screen, several people in the crowd cheered. Not only were a large number of cast members present, but apparently, they had also brought their fans. Later, when the screen turned black and the credits began to roll, everyone cheered – and they had every reason to do so!

Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish is the story of a middle-aged ER nurse – and bitterly lapsed observant Jew – undertaking a Yiddish translation of Shakespeare’s great classic. Meanwhile, her houseguest, also a Hasidic dropout, is “leaking” Kabbalistic magic, and enchants her studio apartment. In what might be the first Yiddish “mumblecore” film, director Eve Annenberg creates a parallel universe (Williamsburg, Brooklyn), where Romeo and Juliet stem from divergent streams of ultra-orthodox Judaism and speak their lines in street-smart Yiddish.

The compelling love story is beautifully adapted and fully entertaining, while raising questions about love, conflict and ultra-orthodox Judaism. During the Q&A one cast member described how after a screening in London, ultra-orthodox viewers told him they were touched by the film and could relate to it very well.

The cast consists entirely of native Yiddish-speakers whose families are (partly) aware of their roles in the film. As one cast member explained with a sly smile: “The ones that are okay with it know – the others don’t.”

Aaron Galliner, 2011 Blogger and Festival Volunteer

Related Links:
New York Jewish Film Festival Schedule
Facebook: Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish
Trailer: Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish