All posts tagged: long Hollywood history

The Unabashed Jewishness of Barbra Streisand

The Unabashed Jewishness of Barbra Streisand

In the history of Hollywood schmaltz, few moments quite beat the sight of Barbra Streisand dressed as a yeshiva boy, on her knees in prayer as the night sky swirls around her, plaintively singing in her buttery soprano, “Papa … can you hear me?” In 1983, Barbra was at the height of her stardom, a well-established diva with Funny Girl, A Star Is Born, and The Way We Were behind her. A silhouette of her nose was enough to identify her. She used that accumulated capital to make this: a musical adaptation of an Isaac Bashevis Singer story, “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy,” about a girl in the old country who wants to study Talmud and disguises herself as a boy to do so. The film has always had the taint of a vanity project and remains, as a result, vaguely embarrassing. When Streisand wasn’t nominated for best director and Yentl itself was barely recognized at the 1984 Oscars, a demonstration was staged outside the ceremony, with protesters carrying signs that read Barbra Was Robbed and …