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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Fiddler on the Roof 50th Anniversary

About Tradition and Fiddler on The Roof

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Can you believe that it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof ?

The musical was first performed on Broadway in 1964, with Zero Mostel as Tevye. Fiddler remains one of the most oft-revived and constantly celebrated musicals of the Golden Age. Featuring a score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, with a book by Joseph Stein, the musical was based on the short story collection Tevye and His Daughters by Sholem Aleichem.

A special performance, featuring original members of the first 1964 production and Topol, star of its 1971 film adaption, marked the occasion. The performance also celebrated the 90th birthday of the musical’s lyricist, Sheldon Harnick.  “When we wrote these songs we were hoping they would be around for a year or two,” says Sheldon Harnick, the musical’s Tony- and Pulitzer-Prize winning lyricist. “But people around the world identified with the struggle to keep family traditions. The show has lasted so long because it is really all about family.”
Old Prague Synagogue

As the author of The Nine Inheritors: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Family and Their Ancient Torah Scroll, this theme of family and tradition is truly meaningful to me. In the Nine Inheritors I quote Sholem Aleichem story about how adhering to those traditions can strengthen the bonds of family—but also irrevocably break them apart.  Here is an excerpt from The Nine Inheritors
When he had finished telling the story of Tevye and his daughter, Abraham said, “That’s a very painful story, but thanks for trying to help me understand my father Yakov. But the old beliefs and the fanatic piety he brought with him from the shtetl, that he tried so hard to transplant in America, were doomed to fail. Don’t you think?”
“No! Traditions that have survived for so many centuries can’t be tossed away so easily,” Mendel retorted. “Listen to me Abraham, if I could return to the shtetl what would I find there?

“Probably not a trace of our family,” Abraham replied.
“Yet, the shtetl lingers in our food, our attitudes, our language, our dreams, our nightmares. Can we ever leave the shtetl behind?”

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Old Prague Synagogue Restored

Read more:
Classical Musical Fiddler on the Roof Celebrates 50th
6 Things About Fiddler on the Roof
50th Aniversary of Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof Turns 50
The Nine Inheritors: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Family and Their Ancient Torah Scroll
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