Hester Street (1975) a film by Joan Micklin Silver, tells a story of the life of newly inducted Immigrants from eastern Europe adapting to the New World. Jake blends in the crowd by looking like a native and acting like one. He believes by living in America he should act like an American, or what he considers a “Yankee”. He attending the local Dance Academy and introduced himself to woman and didn’t sustain the customs he had in his homeland. He almost felt embarrassed of being Jewish. Early in the film after attending the Dance Academy, he receives a guest from Russia, fresh of the boat, looking for his cousin. Jake then grabs his hat that is symbolic to his faith and mocks him.
The Lower East Side at the time was considered the most densely populated area in the world. Jake, a married man, and couldn’t keep his hands off Mamie, a woman dressed in the attire an American woman. Mamie is unaware Jake is a married man. Jake receives his wife with there child Yossel. When Gitl arrived, she didn’t recognize her husband. She was shocked by his appearance and attitude. Gitl new to the country, didn’t think it would drastically change the man she loves. Jake even forced Gitl to change their sons name to Jake, a more american sounding name. She was disappointed due to the fact that that name was significant to their faith. As the film went by Gitl had a taste to the water coming out of the kitchen faucet and was impressed by the taste of it, she was trilled. Gitl, a fraile young woman from Russia was trying to adapt to the new world by trying to speak the language of English. Jake later is upset because she still wears a wig, signifying that she is a married woman.
Jake a sweatshop worker, earning $12 dollars a week compares himself to a fellow coworker by the name of Bernstein earning half of Jakes wage just because he still keeps his customs in the new world. In the establishment they work in, they are constantly mocked by the head of the shop. Bernstein a educated man later moves into Jakes home and is introduced to Gitl and their son. Bernstein teaches Joey how to read and write, and Gitl is impressed because he can do so. Gitl tries to impress Jake one night by wearing a feathered hat and girdle, making her appear as if she was an American woman. He does not show up, he appears to visit a prostitute that same night. Jake, the married man with a child.
Adapating to the new world, Gitl removes her wig and keeps it all natural. Jake is furious, even though he said the wig has to go. He contradicts himself throughout the film. He isn’t a faithful man. A scene in the film shows Jake mourning for his father who had passed away and it appears that Jake is wearing the traditional attire while giving his prayers. So he still has some sort of faith. The line said by Ms. Kavarsky “You can pee up my back and make me think its rain”, describes how convincing Jake is. He may seem like a family man, but behind closed doors he is just whoring around town.