Broken Barriers (Khavah)

  • Charles E. Devenport
  • US
  • 1919
  • 78 Min

This 1919 silent film, directed by Charles Davenport, is the first American film adaptation of Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye stories, famously adapted as the Hollywood musical Fiddler on the Roof.

Broken Barriers focuses not on Tevye the milkman, but on his daughter Khavah, who falls in love with the Gentile boy Fedka, sending reverberations through her family and community. The film’s substantive depiction of Jewish life remains a rarity, even amongst the few surviving early American films to feature Jewish content.
Long-thought lost, but recently discovered by one of the producer’s great-granddaughters and restored by The National Center for Jewish Film, Broken Barriers is back on the screen over 100 years later.

Sholem Aleichem (born Sholem Rabinovich in Russia in 1859) was the most read and revered Jewish writer of his time. Upon his death in New York City in 1916, hundreds of thousands of mourners flooded the streets. Although fascinated with motion pictures, he didn’t live to see his own work on screen.

The film classic is set to live music by musician Daniel Kahn and Yeva Lapsker. A mixture of music, prose and rap. Look forward to this unique event!


original title Broken Barriers (Khavah)

international title Broken Barriers (Khavah)

german title Broken Barriers (Khavah)


  • director Charles E. Devenport

country/countries US

year 1919

duration 78 Min