Fiddler on the Roof is for everybody. Hear me out.
A few weeks ago I was talking about Fiddler on the Roof, and how much I love the show and music. I was provided with the argument that one cannot truly connect to Fiddler on the Roof if one is not Jewish. I see the point, but disagree at the same time.
I don’t consider myself religious. But even I find scenes like the Sabbath Prayer to be beautiful cultural and musical moments.
I was constantly aware of the show through music education in school, local productions, and then performing the show when I was in high school. In college I decided to make the show the center of a research paper on interfaith marriage, which was incredibly interesting…and simultaneously heartbreaking.
Maybe it’s because I am not religious that I don’t see this piece of art as something wholly connected to a god. I understand and respect the connection my Jewish friends have to this show.
As a child, teenager, and even now…I see this show in a way that is important to various types of people. I see it as a strong portrayal of (many) cultures who have struggled and how important it is to accept everyone. I see it as a great way to educate people about another culture and old traditions. I see it as a great album of music. I see it as a show that represents many themes that hit families, no matter the religion: generations, growing up, standing up to racism, accepting people despite tradition, and moving on with life.
When viewing “Sunrise, Sunset” on Youtube, I see many users commenting on how they used this song for their own weddings or wedding anniversaries. I wonder how many of them are Jewish, or if the song transcends that theme for them the way it does for me.
Not to mention the Chava Sequence. I swear when we did that portion of the show there wasn’t a parent in the audience who didn’t get a little teary eyed.
I for one am very glad that I had teachers who exposed me to this show at a young age. I already had Jewish friends when I was very little, but I noticed how many kids were totally isolated from that once I grew up. I was shocked to hear Jewish and Muslim racial slurs in the halls once I was in high school. It may sound trite, but it is a huge shame that so many people can’t look past religion and culture and look on to people themselves.
In the meantime, if you’ve never experienced Fiddler on the Roof, I strongly recommend it.
What do you think? Is it a stronger piece of art to those who relate to the aspect of Judaism? Do you think the show’s themes make a bold impact on any viewer? What has your experience with the show been?