Watch Hester Street
- 1 hr 29 min
The film Hester Street is a period drama set in the late 1800s in New York. The story of Hester Street conveys the struggles and idealistic strivings of a particular group of first-generation Jewish immigrants that have settled into the Lower East side of Manhattan during the concluding years of the 19th century. Yankl (actor Steven Keats) is the first of a family to arrive in N.Y. by way of Ellis Island. He finds lodging on Hester Street on the lower east side. It does not take long for him to fit in. He finds work in the garment industry, he cuts his hair, shaves his beard, and changes his name to "Jake." He genuinely loves his wife, Gitl, and his son, Yossele, and he aspires to earn enough to bring them both to America to live. Along the way he meets and falls in love with another woman by the name of Mamie Fein. When Gitl and Yossele finally show up at Ellis Island, Jake experiences a flood of mixed emotions. He is not the same person that he was when he made the crossing to America, and for good reason. He has changed in order to better assimilate into his new surroundings, and he now finds himself nose-to-nose with his traditional Eastern European past. Gitl naturally desires for them as a family to continue life in the old-world traditions. Jake knows that this is next to impossible and tries to work with Gitl to adapt to life in America. Tensions arise because Jake has become a much more ambitious man since arriving in New York, and he now equates money with love. Gitl has a hard time understanding Jake, and to Jake, holding onto tradition is a blueprint for failure. In the end, Jake believes that his strivings, especially for money, are a fool's errand, as he cannot seem to obtain happiness, either with Gitl or Mamie.