Posted on: 10th September 2011 15:12:19

Welcome to the September Installment -- Fiddler on the Roof!

 “Fiddler” was chosen for inclusion as homage to Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.  (As far as I know there are no musicals focusing on Labor Day)!

However, as you prepare for your groups and read the text, you will find that the questions do not focus on the religious aspects of the story but rather the family and community elements.    

This film, together with October’s Meet Me in St. Louis are my foray into reminiscence about love and respect not only for one another but for family and community.

Therefore, do not dismiss this film simple because of the holiday for which it was chosen!

Topol is a fabulous Tevye! (It’s difficult to believe that during this film he was in his 40’s –he played such a great older learned man). In fact everyone in the cast is perfectly suited to his/her role! I absolutely love Norma Crane as Golda – the mother who just wants her daughter to marry –“a husband isn’t to look at – a husband – is to get”!! 

I love it when my group listens to lines like that and I ask about their courtships and what their parents thought of boyfriends/girlfriends/fiancés. I get some great interactions.

If I Were A Rich Man also opens great discussion about the importance of family and community support during hard times. The hard times Tevye and his family experience are equated to the Depression and WWII for my group members.  You never know how much courage you have until you are faced with not only the loss of an income, but the separation of your family due to war.

Separation and the loss of traditions are recurring themes in Fiddler. Nowhere is it more evident than in Far from the Home I Love and Chava’s Choice.   Here one daughter, with her father’s consent, goes to Siberia to marry her chosen husband who has been arrested for his views regarding the politics of the time. The other, parts from her father because he cannot accept her marrying outside her faith – the biggest break with tradition!

The parting of father and daughter is bittersweet and brings great emotion especially from the ladies in my group who left home to travel with husbands during their military service.

I chose to include Chava’s Choice in the workbook – not because I wanted to talk about faith – although I do mention it, but because it was the end for Tevye. It was the end of his relationship with his third daughter, because as he said, (by allowing her to marry outside the faith), “if I bend that far I would break!”  Thus, in order to preserve a sense of order, and halt any further breakdown of tradition, he separates from her.

I wondered if my group members experienced anything like what Tevye experienced in their families. I get some great discussion here and find that most of my group members while all faithful in their own way, would not want to sacrifice family for spirituality. 

Times are changing but one thing remains constant-- we all need, and love our families and hold fast to many of our --




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See you in October for Halloween and a visit to the Smith Family in Meet Me in St. Louis!




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