Friday, September 6, 2019

Keeping Grounded with "Traditions"

As I watched the new documentary "Fiddler On the Roof:  A Miracle of Miracles" at AMC Theater today I had so many thoughts and reflections that have compelled me to write a blog post about it. The original play came to Broadway in 1964 and the movie was released in 1971.  The story of Tevya and his daughters has been a theme for the majority of my life.

As I grew up my parents reflected on the importance of traditions and instilled a sense of Judaism throughout the formative years even down to the scene in the show when Tevya rips his shirt and says his daughter is "dead" to him for breaking the tradition of choosing to intermarry.   I grew up in a  very traditional Jewish home and was told this would happen to me if I inter-dated as a teen.  Today this practice has become more acceptable across cultures. (My parents became a bit more relaxed with some traditions as they became grandparents as well)

As I have aged I have come to reflect on different phases of my life in context of this show, first as a daughter, then as a newlywed, as a parent and more recently as a caretaker.   (Of notethe show has special meaning to me.  Five years ago during the 50th anniversary celebration of my Temple, I helped produce the play while my Mom was inflicted with pancreatic cancer.  She was staying with us while I served as her primary caretaker.   She loved the show and the themes were a commonality we shared during this difficult time.  She encouraged me to continue in my role as producer although I was overwhelmed with her care.  Seeing Fiddler was a highlight of her time with me before passing later in the year.  I often reflect on the special bond we shared during this time throughout the production.  

Although the story focus reflects many family matters, as Tevya's daughters come of age, it is much more.  It is about a culture facing the changes in the world, journeying from a more religious background to the newer world of modernity and the battleground for personal freedoms.  It takes place in the tiny village of Anatevka, Russia where the community is forced leave their homes during the pogroms in the early 1900s.  

Fiddler is much more than this, however, and is very relevant to today's world.   We all have Anatevkas in our hearts.  It can be an actual or a spiritual place called home.  When threatened our lives can be in turmoil and our sense of balance disrupted.  Although over 50 years old, the themes are important in context of today's world.  This show is a story of refugees fleeing persecution, it is about immigrants being forced to leave their homes.  It is the story of accepting individual ideas in a society of long traditions such as the young women, Tevya's daughters standing up for their rights to choose a spouse as opposed to arranged marriage.   It is the story of how one can stay grounded in a rapidly changing world.  A "Fiddler on the Roof" is a metaphor for this difficult balance.  

The documentary highlights the relevance of the story across cultures and religions.  It is a story that we can all relate to no matter one's history.  The refugees of the early 1900s' became the immigrants of the early years of many of our communities.  It is a universal theme and the music and songs have been adapted worldwide.  Lin Manuel even performed a version of "To Life" for Vanessa's wedding toast.  

I highly recommend seeing this film and hope you will reflect on the important traditions that keep you and your family grounded as we start to approach a new year.  

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker NeedhamShe loves reading, theater, cooking, travel, walking her dog and spending time with family and friends.  She would love to hear your thoughts on the film.