Private Project

BEYLE: The Artist and Her Legacy

Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman was a woman whose life and work bridged the old world with the new. Following in the footsteps of her activist father and folk singer mother, she dedicated her life to preserving and transmitting Yiddish language and culture. Her influence reached across continents until her death in 2013, and lives on in a new generation.

Born to a Yiddish-speaking family in Vienna, Holocaust survivor Beyle (pronounced "bay-luh") Schaechter-Gottesman was raised in Czernowitz. After the Second World War, she settled in the United States, where she became a central figure of a vibrant Yiddish community based in the Bronx, New York. Along with several other neighboring families, she raised her children in Yiddish. Her home on Bainbridge Avenue became a gathering place for people who wanted to be near Beyle and her remarkable songs, experiences, and ideology. She prioritized living fully in Yiddish by anyone who wanted to do so, whether or not it was their mame-loshn (mother-tongue). One can find Beyle’s influence throughout the contemporary Yiddish world.

A poet and artist, Beyle was named a National Heritage Fellow in recognition for her invaluable contributions to traditional Jewish folk art. Her creative output and devotion to the continuation of Yiddish language and culture spanned seven decades.

"BEYLE: The Artist and Her Legacy" tells the story of Beyle’s rich life through archival recordings along with newly recorded oral history interviews with family, friends, and colleagues – in both English and in Yiddish. In keeping with Beyle’s multimedia artistic practice, we have translated her paintings and sketches into whimsical animations, and weaved her story through the tradition of oral history and into a film.

  • Christa Whitney
  • Liz Walber
  • Robin and Danny Greenspun
  • Christa Whitney
  • Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
    Key Cast
  • Itzik Gottesman
    Key Cast
  • Esther Gottesman
    Key Cast
  • Janina Wurbs
    Key Cast
  • Asya Vaisman-Schulman
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    documentary, biography, short
  • Runtime:
    38 minutes 37 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 5, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Germany, United States
  • Language:
    English, Yiddish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Yidstock: The Festival of New Yiddish Music
    United States
    July 14, 2019
    World Premiere
  • KlezKanada
    Lantier, Quebec
    August 23, 2019
    Canadian Premiere
  • Jüdische Filmtage im Jüdischen Gemeindezentrum am Jakobsplatz in München
    January 28, 2020
  • Yiddish.Berlin
    August 31, 2019
    European Premiere
  • Smith College Poetry Center
    Northampton, Massachusetts
    United States
    February 13, 2020
  • Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center
    Bronx, New York
    United States
    February 16, 2020
    New York premiere
    Sacramento, California
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Haverford College
    Haverford, PA
    United States
    November 13, 2019
  • Boston Workers Circle: Center for Jewish Culture & Social Justice
    Brookline, MA
    United States
    November 17, 2019
  • University of Chicago
    Chicago, Illinois
    United States
    October 23, 2019
    Chicago Premiere
  • Berliner Grassroot Yiddish-festival at Galerie Zeitzone
    August 13, 2019
  • Blu-Hill Film Festival

    Official Selection
  • V.i.Z. Film Fest

    Best Short Film Director, Best Short Film Editing
Distribution Information
  • Yiddish Book Center
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Christa Whitney, Liz Walber

Christa Whitney is the director of the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History project. She has studied Yiddish language at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute as well as the Yiddish Book Center, where she participated in the Steiner Summer Yiddish Program and was a graduate fellow.

Liz Walber is the media coordinator at Northampton Community Television and the former video editor for the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project. She has a BA in Gender Studies and Film Studies from Smith College. She's directed and edited several shorts for the Wexler Oral History Project about a variety of topics, including Klezmer musician Pete Sokolow, and left-wing Yiddish summer camps.

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