4 user 11 critic

A Life Apart: Hasidism in America (1997)

Not Rated | | Documentary | November 1997 (USA)
Hasidic Jews seem alien, and even hostile, to those outside their culture,which frequently includes other Jews. They dress differently, don't mingle between the sexes, speak Yiddish, and ... See full summary »

On Disc

at Amazon




Credited cast:
Leonard Nimoy ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Sarah Jessica Parker ... Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Zeldy Abromowitz Zeldy Abromowitz ... Herself
Yaffa Eliach Yaffa Eliach ... Herself (as Prof. Yaffa Eliach)
Chips Gold Chips Gold ... Herself
Esther Gold Esther Gold ... Herself
Jack Gold Jack Gold ... Himself
Samuel Heilman Samuel Heilman ... Himself (as Prof. Samuel Heilman)
Arthur Hertzberg Arthur Hertzberg ... Himself (as Prof. Arthur Hertzberg)
Ben Zion Horowitz Ben Zion Horowitz ... Himself
Nuta Kaufman Nuta Kaufman ... Himself
Malke Klein Malke Klein ... Herself
Beryl Lazar Beryl Lazar ... Himself
Chanie Lazar Chanie Lazar ... Herself
Mayer Schiller Mayer Schiller ... Himself


Hasidic Jews seem alien, and even hostile, to those outside their culture,which frequently includes other Jews. They dress differently, don't mingle between the sexes, speak Yiddish, and wear side curls, all in an attempt to rigorously follow the commandments of the Torah. They tend to keep to themselves, shunning television and the media so outside influences cannot corrupt their values and views. Yet filmmakers Oren Rudavsky and Menachem Daum were able to enter their world, and the result is the fascinating documentary A Life Apart: Hasidism in America. Using interviews with academics and members of the community and some historical footage, the filmmakers trace the growth of Hasidic groups in the United States. Groups formed around particular Rebbes (learned leaders) and they took their names from their Eastern European home cities (the Satmar Hasids, the Breslov Hasids, and so on). Leonard Nimoy and Sarah Jessica Parker narrate, explaining how this movement came to America and how... Written by Jenny Brown

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated


Official Sites:






Release Date:

November 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Egy külön élet: Haszidizmus Amerikában See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Oren Rudavsky Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Hasidic woman shopkeeper: I watched TV while I was in the hospital, and I was amazed that women could watch it all day long and not become mentally ill.
See more »


New York, New York
Written by John Kander and Fred Ebb
Published by EMI UNART
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Excellent insights into a community so few understand in America
17 August 2008 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Not being a New York City native, I can't recall ever having had any interactions with Hasidic Jews. Sure, on trips to the Big Apple, I've seen them on the streets here and there but like most in my country, I know very little about them--especially since this sect of Judaism is one that generally avoids the media and lives in small tight-knit enclaves in New York and a few other places in the world--not here where I live in Florida. So, because of my ignorance, I really liked being able to have a rare glimpse into their community and families. Despite wanting to be very separate culturally, these people seemed generally open to explaining to others their customs and lifestyle. For that, I felt like I'd been granted a rare privilege and it would be nice to see more films like this. I've heard that there are similar films about the Amish and Muslims--these would be a nice complement to this film.

The part I appreciated the most were interviews with non-Jews. Listening to their suspicions and trepidation about these people and then seeing that there really isn't anything to fear about Hasidism was a nice opportunity.

As far as the film goes technically, it was well-constructed--with nice music, appropriate interviews and a nice gentle pacing. All this left me with an admiration, of sorts, for these gentle people.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 4 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed