Fiddling With 'Fiddler'
01/05/2011 - 11:24

 I know I blogged about “Fiddler on the Roof” last week, but since the girls and I have watched it (and listened to the soundtrack) a few more times since then, I feel compelled to revisit the subject.

First of all, I want to offer an apology to the musical’s creators, for all those years that I dismissed “Fiddler” as kitschy nostalgia on par with those cute little chasid figurines/tchotchkes and ubiquitous Chagall reproductions on display in more than one American Jewish grandma’s home.

Obviously no one involved in the project, which, in its various forms, not only garnered multiple Oscars and Tony awards but made its creators into rich men (daidle deedle daidle deedle daidle deedle daidle dum), needed my approval. Nonetheless, for what it’s worth, I hereby offer my “In the Mix” two thumbs up.

In addition to the music, dancing, compelling characters and moving storytelling, there are just so many brilliant lines and smart, telling moments in the film. I love when Tevye, in response to someone saying how Jews have “been forced out of many, many places at a moment’s notice,” says: “Maybe that’s why we always wear our hats.”

My girls were a bit taken aback when I started weeping uncontrollably during the scene when Chava, the intermarried daughter, comes back to say goodbye, a scene I’d missed on the first few viewings because Sophie, impatient towards the end, had insisted I go in another room and read a book to her while Ellie stayed for the full screening.

I was heartened by the fact that, although Tevye still pretends to ignore Chava, he calls out “May God be with you” to her and her husband Fyedka. And Golde and Tzeitel clearly plan to maintain contact, telling Chava which relative the family will be staying with in America. (“New York, America.” So they’ll be neighbors to Lazar Wolf in “Chicago, America.”)

I have a feeling that, were Tevye (at least the "Fiddler" Tevye -- I haven't yet read the Sholom Aleichem stories which, I understand, are a bit less feel-good) with us today, he’d welcome Fyedka into the family.

And, while we’re on the subject of “Fiddler,” you absolutely must check out this brilliant trailer mash-up, an intermarriage of shtetl and ‘hood.

Do you like “In the Mix”? Well, like it on Facebook.


You never know how things pan out. My brother married a girl who had a reform conversion just to satisfy my mother and me. Now I have two nephews in hebrew school.
You don't weep until that scene? I weep through the entire thing. I don't do that with any other movie. I suppose I may have to try to unpack that at some point.

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