Molly Picon stars in “Mamele,” the last Yiddish movie made in Poland before World War II.

SARATOGA SPRINGS–Saratoga Jewish Community Arts and Temple Sinai will present a Zoom panel discussion of the film “Mamele,” starring Molly Picon on Sunday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m.

Picon, as mamele (little mother) is the dutiful daughter keeping her family intact after the death of her mother.  She’s so busy cooking, cleaning, and matchmaking for her brothers and sisters that she has little time for herself— until she discovers the violinist across the courtyard.

“Mamele,” shot in 1938 Poland and set in Lodz, is a musical comedy and drama embracing the diverse gamut of interwar Jewish life in Poland, with its “nogoodniks” and unemployed, nightclubs and gangsters, and religious Jews celebrating Sukkot. It was the last Jewish film made before the Nazi onslaught.

Picon was born in the New York in 1898 (d. 1992) to parents who immigrated from what is today Ukraine. While her native language was American English, she picked up Yiddish from her mother and the other immigrants in the neighborhood. She moved to Philadelphia when she was young.

Her early performing experiences were in Yiddish theaters, which featured melodramas, musicals, and even translations of Shakespeare and other classics, all performed in Yiddish. Throughout the early part of the 20th century, she performed across North America, South America, Europe, and even Africa. After the decline in demand for Yiddish performances, she switched to English.

During World War II, she performed in refugee camps in Canada. At the war’s end, she and her husband sailed to displaced persons camps and orphanages with the Jewish Labor Committee, performing in Yiddish to give these Holocaust survivors hope and a few laughs as they awaited freedom to settle in Palestine and other places that would take them.

“Molly continued her efforts for those who had been broken by inhumanity,” said Phyllis Wang, coordinator of Saratoga Jewish Community Arts, “working for The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, sold bonds for Israel and the Children’s Fund, and later continued her commitments to the new State of Israel.”

Information and the required Zoom registration may be obtained at and The film is in Yiddish with English subtitles and may be viewed on YouTube and possibly other streaming sites.

A panel discussion of Mamele will be Zoomed on October 17 at 7 p.m.  The film is in Yiddish with English subtitles and can be viewed on YouTube and possibly other streaming sites. Registration is required at and