Yidl in the Middle: Growing Up Jewish in Iowa

Identity and being different
Year Released
Film Length(s)
56 mins
Remote video URL


Yidl in the Middle looks at growing up "different" in America. In this evocative, entertaining film, filmmaker Marlene Booth probes her Iowa-Jewish roots. Through home movies, period photos, her high school reunion, and current interviews, she examines the complicated process of negotiating identity -- as an American, a Jew, and a woman. A compelling film, sure to provoke discussion.

Featured review

This fascinating exploration of how religion, tradition, community, and family affect a young woman's development is a MUST SEE for classes in education, psychology, and American Studies.
Mary Brabeck
Gale & Ira Drukier Dean & Professor of Applied Psychology, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, & Human Development, New York University


This extraordinary film is not only about growing up Jewish in cornbelt America...It is universally relevant to all of us as we find our places in a world of others.
Phil Brown
University Distinguished Professor of Sociology & Health Sciences, Northeastern University
This filmmaking is so far from what Hollywood is doing that a viewer almost forgets she's working in the same medium. Her style is simple, gentle, disarming, and genuine. Rather than trying to manipulate emotions, she seeks truth and it's this truth that fascinates.Discrimination, her film reveals, was rarely overt and open in Iowa. It came sometimes unintended from well-meaning, good-hearted friends and neighbors. Being Jewish in Iowa in the 1950s was an era of "5 o'clock friendships" that lasted only through the workday. It meant "you weren't supposed to argue or disagree," she says as the film's narrator. That wasn't the Iowa way. "We were Iowa Jews - cheerful, eager to please," not "pushy.
Gregory M. Lamb
The Christian Science Monitor

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