The Dybbuk
Der Dibuk

Poland, 1937, 123 minutes, B&W
Yiddish with new English subtitles
Directed by Michal Waszynski
Based on the play by S. Ansky

with new English Subtitles by
The National Center for Jewish Film

Arrange a Screening

Contact us at jewishfilm(at)brandeis(dot)edu
or call 781-736-8600 to book now

Public Exhibition Formats: 35mm, 16mm, and Beta



" The most ambitious Yiddish movie of its day. In fact, The Dybbuk is a time capsule... Drama intensifies a given moment, film freezes it.

Whatever the movie's original intentions, events have dictated that its themes will be read as harbingers of exile and oblivion."
- J. Hoberman, Bridge of LIght

"... one of the most solemn attestations to the mystic powers of the spirit the imagination has ever purveyed to the film reel."
-Parker Tyler, Classics of the Foreign Film, New York; Citadel 1962


Boston Society of Film Critics Award - Best Discovery/Re-Discovery 1989


The Dybbuk is a Yiddish film classic based on the celebrated play of the same name by S. Ansky, written during the turbulent years of 1912-1917. The idea for the play came to Ansky as he led a Jewish folklore expedition through small towns of Eastern Europe, which was cut short by the outbreak of World War I. The Dybbuk reflects Ansky's deep perception of the shtetl's religious and cultural mores, as well as his insightful appreciation of its hidden spiritual resources. Plans to produce the play in Russian by Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theater in 1920 were aborted by the Bolshevik Revolution. Ansky, who died in 1920 never lived to see his play produced. The play however, was destined to become one of the most widely-produced in the history of Jewish theater. Its rich ethnographic tapestry, mystical themes, star-crossed lovers and haunting melodies were designed to bridge the historical abyss.

Boundaries separating the natural from the supernatural dissolve as ill-fated pledges, unfulfilled passions and untimely deaths ensnare two families in a tragic labyrinth of spiritual possession. The film was made on location in Poland in 1937 and brought together the best talents of Polish Jewry, script writers, composers, choreographers, set designers, actors and historical advisors. The film's exquisite musical and dance interludes evoke the cultural richness of both shtetl communities and Polish Jewry on the eve of World War II.

Selected Screenings

Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival (2015)
German Historical Museum (2014)
Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Charleston, SC (2014)
Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, MA (2013)
Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival (2012)
Sacred Music Culture Festival at Lumiere Cinema; The Netherlands (2012)
Lenora Marwil Jewish Film Festival (2012)
Polish Film Festival KINOTEKA (2011)
Dryden Theatre, George Eastman House, Rochester (2010)
Austria Film Archive (2010)
Pacific Film Archive (2009)
Leeuwarden Yiddish Film Festival, Netherlands (2008)
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, UK (2008)
Aye Aye Film Festival, France (2008)
Goethe- Institut Turin, Italy (2008)
Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin (2008)
Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, New York (2007)
Krakow Cultural Days in Budapest, Hungary (2007)
Miami Jewish Film Festival (2007)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (2007)
Virginia Festival of Jewish Film (2002)

NCJF Film Restoration

Preservation and restoration funded in honor of Hirsh and Rosalind Freed by their sons Justin and Kenneth Freed. Special Thanks to British Film Institute, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, Brandeis University, The American Film Institute, The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The American Jewish Historical Society, The Library of Congress.

1989 Restoration © The National Center for Jewish Film
Executive Director Sharon Pucker Rivo
Associate Director Miriam Saul Krant
Technical Director Robert Borowski
English subtitles David G. Roskies, Sylvia Fuks Fried
Laboratory John E. Allen, Inc.
Titles Sean Coughlin
Typesetting Frank J. Morgan


Director Michal Waszynski
Screenplay S.A. Kacyzna , Andrzej Marek & Anatol Stern (consultant writer)
Based on the play by S. Ansky
Producer Zygfryd Mayflauer
Original Music Henoch Kon
Cinematography Albert Wywerka
Film Editing George Roland
Production Design Stefan Norris & Jacek Rotmil
Art Direction Andrzej Marek
Production Manager Ludwig Prywes
Assistant Production Manager Zygfryd Mayflauer
Assistant Camera Leonard Zajaczkowski
Vocalist Gerszon Sirota
Historical Consultant Dr. Meyer Balaban
Choreographer Judith Berg
Translator (Original US version) Abraham Armband
Subtitles (Original US version) Leonora Fleischer

Abraham Morewski (Rabbi Ezeriel ben Hodos)
Ajzyk Samberg (Meszulach)
Mojzesz Lipman (Sender Brynicer ben Henie)
Lili Liliana (Lea)
Leon Liebgold (Chanan ben Nisan)
Dina Halpern (Aunt Frade)
Maks Bozyk (Nute)
M. Messinger (Menasze)
Gerszon Lemberger (Nisan ben Rifke)
Samuel Bronecki (Nachman)
Also starring Samuel Landau, Judith Berg & Simche Fostel


The Dybbuk is one of the Top 10 Jewish Films as selected by Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition. He made the list as host of the Spring 2010 film weekend "Letting Jews be Jews" at Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. Link

NCJF Program Notes (PDF) Link

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