Traditions in Jewish Society in the Film "Fiddler on the Roof"

Published: 2021-09-14 18:05:10
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“Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.” – Tevye
The importance of tradition in Anatevka is captured by the opening lines of the film Fiddler on the Roof: “A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one 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 it’s so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!”Yet, despite opening with this affirmation of tradition being such a core concept to the people of Anatevka, the movie spends the rest of its length describing cultural assimilation which threatened to put an end to the Jewish identity made possible by these unique traditions. Many residents of Anatevka followed traditions by rote, this included Tevya, without understanding where the traditions came from or why they are important and meaningful. The lines from Fiddler on the Roof exemplify this problem: “Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything: how to sleep, how to eat, how to work, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition get started? I’ll tell you. I don’t know. But it’s a tradition.” This quote depicts Tevye’s attitude towards tradition in Judaism, where the act is more important than the meaning.
The standard of living in Anatevka played a big part on the traditions, where many traditions were repeated yearly using the same equipment. In my household, one of the traditions that we practice is Friday night dinners, where my entire family will sing, complete the brachot and eat together for a few hours. Another tradition that I uphold is attending shule during major festivals such as Sukkot, Yom Kippur & Pesach. During Pesach my family will either host a seder or we will attend one at one of my mother’s friends. During these seder’s we indulge in all of the ashkenazi customs. These customs and traditions inspire me to lead a life where I uphold Jewish values and that I will continue to celebrate and practice traditions I grew up with for the rest of my life.

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