“Hester Street”, through the delightful story of the Americanization of Jake and Gitl, illuminates the struggles and transformations of the Jewish immigrants who settled in the Lower East Side, as they try to reconcile the ordered values they which brought along with the unmarked opportunities that they found in the slums of the Lower East Side at the turn of the 20thCentury.
It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, immigrated to the United States 3 years ago, settling on Hester Street in the crowded slums of New York City’s Lower East Side. “Jake”, as he now calls himself, has assimilated to American life, learned English, Anglicized his name, and even shaved off his beard. He has also fallen in love with a dancer named Mamie Fein, a thoroughly modern girl. Nevertheless, he has been saving what he can from his $12 weekly pay to bring over his son and his wife, Gitl, to America. When his wife finally arrives, but she is as old world as he is the slick Yankee. Jake pushes Gitl to give up her hair‐covering, her shawls, and her Yiddish but Gitl resists. Can their marriage survive these differences, and if not, will Gitl be able to manage in this new land on her own?