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FROM ANATEVKA TO BOCA RATON

Updated: Feb 4

MY JOURNEY WITH FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

Sitting in the dimly lit auditorium of the Wick Theater in Boca Raton, Florida, I found myself on an emotional odyssey that transcended the bounds of a mere theatrical experience. Each scene of “Fiddler on the Roof,” a story I knew by heart, pierced through me, stirring a profound connection to my family and my Jewish heritage. Despite my familiarity with every line and melody, the performance consistently stirred me to tears, each note and word resonating deeply within my soul as if echoing the collective memory of my ancestors from Eastern Europe.


My journey with “Fiddler on the Roof” is not merely one of an audience member lost in the echoes of a familiar score; it is a pilgrimage through time, harmonized with the narrative of my own creation, my first novel, “A Cobbler's Tale: Jewish Immigrants' Story of Survival, from Eastern Europe to New York's Lower East Side.” This work is not just fiction; it is a mosaic of my great grandparents’ realities, their courageous voyage to America in the early 1900s, a testament to the enduring spirit of those who dared to envision a life beyond the pogroms and poverty of their birth.

 

The matinee was laden with emotion, not only because of the story unfolding on stage but also due to the company I kept—my mom, celebrating her 86th birthday, my sister June, and her son-in-law, Danny. It was our first outing since my brother Craig’s passing just three months prior. Each song and each dialogue seemed to amplify my raw emotions, making the tears flow freely as I thought of my beloved family.

 

As the violin’s haunting melody rose in the hushed theater, each note seemed to resonate with a memory of my father. It felt as if the tears I shed were not solely my own but also those of my dad, flowing through me with a poignant sense of shared experience. He had passed away over five years ago, yet in that moment, his presence felt near, almost as though he sat beside me, his emotions mingling with mine. The music, the voices, the very air in the theater seemed to be imbued with his spirit, and I understood that this was how he remained with me—through these tears. They were a silent testament to his eternal love of family, which he had nurtured in me. As the show unfolded, a show he would have adored just as fervently, I realized that each tear was a bridge to the past, a connection to the man who had taught me the value of our traditions, the depth of our stories, and the beauty of expressing our emotions freely. My dad’s tears were a sacred communion, a tender echo of his laughter and legacy, shed through me.

 

Throughout the performance, my emotions oscillated between joy and sorrow, pride and pain. Tevye's struggles, reminiscent of my beloved grandfather Morris, brought me to tears, reflecting the universal challenges of change, faith, and family loyalty. Yet, the underlying theme of antisemitism, mirroring the trials faced by the fictional shtetl of Anatevka and tragically relevant today, imbued the late afternoon with a somber tone, reminding me of the darkness that still exists in the world.

 

But as I left the theater amidst the torrent of emotions, a prevailing sense of Jewish pride surged within me. Despite the tears and the heartache, “Fiddler on the Roof” reaffirmed the indomitable spirit of my people. It reminded me of our capacity to find hope in despair, to dance on the rooftops of our challenges, and to sing in the face of adversity. This performance wasn't just a retelling of our past but a celebration of our enduring legacy—a poignant reminder of the strength, resilience, and unwavering faith that define our people.

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