Some reviews claimed that all the songs sounded the same. In response, songwriters Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman said they wanted the songs to reflect the lessons of the Talmud, in which each lesson often reflects the lesson before it.
Even though costars Amy Irving and especially Mandy Patinkin were known as accomplished singers (by the time he was cast in Yentl, Patinkin had already won a Tony Award for his role in the Broadway musical Evita and would later go on to be nominated for two more musical performance Tonys), Barbra Streisand is the only cast member who performs any songs in this movie musical.
For this film, Barbra Streisand became the first woman ever to win the Golden Globe for Best Director. She was later nominated for Best Director at both the Golden Globes and Directors Guild of America Awards for The Prince of Tides. She has to this day never been nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards but handed out the Oscar for Best Director the first and only time it has been won by a woman (by Kathryn Bigelow).