Everyone of us is a fiddler on the roof!
Everyone of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask – why do we stay up there if its so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you… In one word… Tradition!
That’s the beginning of the old but still relevant musical film “Fiddler On The Roof.” But ok, times have changed and a lot of these old traditions have changed throughout the years. The film takes part in a small Jewish village, a “shtetl”, somewhere in what was once known as the “Pale of Settlement”, an area of Imperial Russia where Jews were allowed to set up restricted, but permanent, settlements. That was then – other times and other circumstances. Still, a lot of things in this movie reminds me of Judaism today and a lot of people all over the world can somehow identify with this movie, with Tevye and his daughters and the other brilliant characters. Some of the traditions that Tevye speaks about in the musical, are still being practiced by Jews all over the world.
Growing up as a Jew in Stockholm, I used to think a bit like Tevye when he says:
You may ask – How did this tradition get started? I’ll tell you… I don’t know! But its a tradition! And because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.
I simply knew that there were traditions, but couldn’t answer on why or how it all started. Today, I’ve learned more though, and it all depends on how one chooses to interpret the Torah.
For me, Fiddler On The Roof was an important part of my childhood. Maybe because I could identify in it somehow. Sadly, I could also identify the dark parts of the story, about the pogroms against the Jews. It’s hard not to, growing up in a family where you always heard your grandmother talking about Auschwitz and your parents about having to leave their home in Poland, in 1969.
I’ve started a new project, what I hope one day will become an interesting book about my family history. I’m in the middle of the research now, which has become an important search for my roots, and I kind of get the feeling that my Jewish identity comes together bit by bit… I saw the Fiddler On The Roof movie yesterday, for inspiration, probably for the 10th time in my life. And I must say – it really never gets boring! So for you who have not yet seen this wonderful old musical. Go rent it or order it on Amazon.