Gunsmoke: Season 18, Episode 24

This Golden Land (5 Mar. 1973)

TV Episode  -   -  Western
6.8
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In a highly-honored episode dealing with religious belief, Russian-Jewish farmer Moshe and his family come to Kansas to try to take advantage of the land. However, their traditions are ... See full summary »

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Title: This Golden Land (05 Mar 1973)

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
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Doc
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Paul Stevens ...
Moshe Gorofsky
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Rouse Ruxton
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Gearshon Gorofsky
Kevin Coughlin ...
Calvin Ruxton
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Laibel Gorofsky
Bettye Ackerman ...
Zisha Gorofsky
Wayne McLaren ...
Homer Ruxton
Scott Selles ...
Semel Gorofsky
Robert Nichols ...
Willie
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Storyline

In a highly-honored episode dealing with religious belief, Russian-Jewish farmer Moshe and his family come to Kansas to try to take advantage of the land. However, their traditions are mocked by the cowboys around, notably a neighboring farm family. One night, one of Moshe's sons and the neighbors get into a fight, and the son is found dead of a broken neck soon afterward. Moshe witnessed the start of the fight but not the actual killing. Under the Mosaic law he treasured, he cannot testify and without his word the farm family is set free. Moshe's second son buys a shotgun and threatens the neighbors with it to compel them to confess, but wastes his powder firing at imaginary targets and is run off the farm. The neighbors then invade Moshe's farm in an attempt to drive him off for good. Written by Peter Harris

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Western

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5 March 1973 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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This episode won the Mass Media Award from The National Conference of Christians and Jews. See more »

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"This Golden Land" is an exploration of Orthodox Judaism on the prairie.
8 July 2013 | by (Los Angeles, CA., USA) – See all my reviews

The "Gunsmoke" episode "This Golden Land" has been honored by several organizations and has won several awards because, as of 2013, it remains one of a handful of American broadcast network episodes which realistically depicts Orthodox Judaism. The Russian-Jewish Gorofsky family is portrayed as relatively then-recent immigrants who escape persecution in Czarist Russia only to find that in "the golden land" of America, they will also face violence. While in Russia, the Gorofskys were specifically picked on for being Jews. The family believed that by coming to America, the promise of religious freedom for all meant that the same type of injustices they endured in Russia would not happen to them in America. However, soon after they arrive in Kansas, the father and youngest son are attacked by the three Ruxton brothers. The Ruxtons, riding home after getting drunk and tearing up a bar in Hays, run into the Gorofskys on the prairie. The father and youngest son are saying morning prayers wearing prayer shawls ('tallit' in Hebrew) and little boxes on their forehead and left arms ('tefillin' in Hebrew) which contain the most sacred words in the Torah. The Ruxtons, having never seen anything like this, are upset that the father and son do not interrupt their prayers to explain themselves. What happens next results in a tragedy that threatens to destroy the Gorofskys as the father (Paul Stevens) feels he cannot go against the code of justice written in the Torah to formally accuse the Ruxtons of a crime. His second son Gershom, portrayed by Richard Dreyfus, cannot reconcile what happened to his brother and what his religion teaches him to believe. Meanwhile, the Ruxton brothers are also slowly being torn apart by their guilt over what happened. "The Golden Land" is a philosophical tale which might not appeal to some who expect constant gunfire and fistfights and hangings in their Westerns. However, it is a wonderful tale of how one man's faith might not only cost him the life of a son, but also his wife (Bettye Ackerman), and perhaps even one other child. While the man might appear to many to be a coward, some might say he is one of the bravest men one can possibly hope to meet. By the end of the episode, even Marshal Matt Dillon learns something from all of this.


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