Friday, April 29, 2011

Fiddler On The Roof: L'Chaim

This is a scene from L'Chaim (To Life) from the 1971 film, Fiddler on the Roof, set in Anatevka, a fictional village in The Pale of czarist Russia of 1905. The dancing is part of a celebration of an intended betrothal of one of Tevye's three daughters, Tzeitel to Lazar Wolf, a butcher. (In contravention to tradition, Tzeitel protests and ends up marrying someone else, whom she declares she loves, Motel, a poor tailor.)

The scene becomes more tense when Russian peasants suddenly enter the party, and at first the Jews are nervous about the unannounced and uninvited guests, not sure what their intentions are. But they enter with songs on their lips, always a good sign, rather than guns on their hips. They sing a song of good health to all.

There is still some unease, the history is long and complicated and as precarious as "a fiddler on the roof." But once the Jewish residents see the intentions are honorable, they accept their guests. Both dance, each according to his traditions, to the good news of the impending marriage—a universal theme of joy, happiness and life. It reminds of what my mother, ז״ל, used to say many years ago: "I wish all people could get along."