Fiddler on the Roof

Essay by Basser126University, Bachelor'sA-, July 2004

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Fiddler on the Roof is a classic musical about Jewish life set in the small Ukraine town of Anatevka during the early 20th century. It reveals Jewish life and the problems the people faced in pre-revolutionary Russia. It is a tumultuous time in Russia with the persecution of Jews and the anti-Tsarist sentiment that would lead to the Revolution. This movie centered on the life of Tevye (Topol), a hard working milkman, his wife, and five daughters. Tevye is constantly torn between his traditional Jewish values and an ever changing world.

Traditions are a large part of Jewish life. Tevye stated in the opening of the movie, "Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof". Tradition provides balance in life. Jews have many traditions that include how to sleep, eat, work, and even wear clothes. One tradition is they keep their head covered and wear a prayer shawl as a symbol of their constant devotion to God.

A major tradition revealed in the film was the celebration of the Sabbath, the most sacred day of the week for Jews. It starts at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. Nearing sunset, after Tevye and his family finished their Sabbath preparation; Golde (Norma Crane) started the Sabbath celebration by lighting candles and giving a blessing. It is a Jewish tradition for the woman of the house to do this with the candle lighting marking the beginning and end of all Sabbaths. After the Sabbath meal, Tevye went to visit Lazar Wolf(Paul Mann). When Lazar came from the back of the house, he was removing his bloody apron indicating he had been working in his butcher shop. This was a bad portrayal of traditional Jewish life in that work is not to be...