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Over the Rainbow

Episode 4 of 5

Documentary series. Simon Schama explores how eastern European Jewish culture made its mark across the world, from Soviet politics to Hollywood cinema.

Simon Schama plunges us into the lost world of the shtetl, the Jewish towns and villages sewn across the hinterlands of eastern Europe which became the seedbed of a uniquely Jewish culture.

Shtetl culture would make its mark on the modern world, from the revolutionary politics of the Soviet Union to the mass culture of Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood. It was also the birthplaces of Hasidism, the most visible, iconic and, arguably, most misunderstood expression of Jewish faith and fervour.

This episode takes us from the forests of Lithuania, where Simon's own family logged wood and fought wolves, to the boulevards of Odessa, where shtetl kids argued the merits of revolutionary socialism over Zionism. From the Ukrainian city of Uman, where today thousands of the Hasidim chant and sing over the tomb of the wonder-working Rabbi Nachman, to the streets of Manhattan's lower east side, where the sons of shtetl immigrants wrote the American songbook. We return, with grim inevitability, to eastern Europe in 1940 where the genocidal mechanisms of the 'final solution' were beginning to grind the shtetl world into dust and ash.

1 hour

Last on

Wed 25 Apr 2018 02:15

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:50

    Judy Garland

    Over The Rainbow


Role Contributor
Presenter Simon Schama
Executive Producer Nicholas Kent
Director Hugo Macgregor
Series Producer Tim Kirby
Producer Hugo Macgregor


  • Sun 22 Sep 2013 21:00
  • Mon 23 Sep 2013 23:50
  • Tue 24 Sep 2013 00:50
  • Tue 29 Oct 2013 00:50
  • Tue 24 Apr 2018 21:00
  • Wed 25 Apr 2018 02:15