Background stories from Anatevka Tevye (Joe Garofalo) I was born in 1860 in the small village of Smolnsk. My earliest memory was a massacre in my village by Cossacks. I lost my entire family, and survived with another young boy. Together we walked from farm to farm, finding whatever food we could, just barely surviving. What I remember most is my hunger for food and for learning. I would sit outside any Synagogue, listening to the men discuss Talmud and Tora. Oh, how I wished to be worthy enough to join them! When I was 12 years old, I came upon a Jewish farm in a town called Anatevka. I was a boy in rags. I crawled into a hayloft to rest for the night. The farmer found me in the morning, and took pity on me. He had no son of his own, only one daughter. He fed me, he clothed me, he sent me to school, and when I was old enough, he arranged for the marriage between me and his daughter, Golde. Together we had seven children. Only five survived, all daughters. It might seem a tragedy if you didn't know more of the story. For more information, read the stories in Tevye the Dairyman by Sholom Aleichem. Golde (Liz Heun) I married Tevye in the days when marriages were completely pre-arranged. I had no idea what I was getting into. We came from similar backgrounds and our parents assumed that was all that was needed. Our lives in Anatevka have not been easy, but I have everything I ever wanted in my 5 daughters. Tevye has managed to get us through the hard times, mostly because he is everyone’s friend. He makes us laugh, when the instinct is to cry. He drives me crazy most of the time- you can never get a straight answer out of him! But if truth be told (but I will never admit this to him and will disavow all knowledge of it, if questioned), it is his romanticism and humor that I love most of all. I raised the girls, and I am very proud of them. I can only imagine what ideas they would have in their heads if Tevye had taken charge of that! As a matter of fact, it was all Tevye’s influence that gave them each a bit of the rebel. Tzeitel was wise to follow her heart, and Motel is a real person. Hodel was always such a rebel, I worried more about her than any of the daughters. I don’t know Perchik well enough, and I miss her terribly, but I figure she can do little harm in Siberia. I know in my heart she is happy and that is good enough. Chava, our little Chava, broke my heart when she married Fyedka. I don’t understand it, I don’t even know him, and she turned her back on us. I didn’t know where to take my grief. Tevye’s stubborn silence was worse than any pain I was feeling. Dear God I will forever thank you for bringing her to us on this last day in Anatevka, and thank you too for giving Tzeitel a tongue when I couldn’t find mine to say farewell to Chava. If I didn’t have Sprintze and Bielke today I would surely despair. Until they are old enough to take some of my burden they cannot know how my heart has broken. Tevye knows, but we cannot speak of it. He hides his grief in humor, I hide it in work. We will find a new life in America, but I have no future there. All that I have ever loved, I am leaving today in Anatevka. I will surely be lost without it. Tzeitel (Megan Beaucage) I was born November 4th 19 years ago from the womb of my Mother Golde. My Father Tevye, a milkman, and Mother both raised me along with 4 more daughters who came along within the span of 15 years. Growing up I was the responsible one, always striving to make my parents proud. I looked over my younger sisters, and would play with Motel Kamzoil frequently. We grew up together, and quickly became best friends. Day in and day out we would play games and eventually grow to love one another. Although my hand was promised to Lazar Wolf, Motel finally stepped forward and asked Teveye for my hand. A reluctant yes turned into a wedding, a life, a baby; happiness for me and my new family. Once Tevye, Golde, and the two youngest sisters move to America, Motel and I and Kumbatu (The Baby) move to Warsaw for a few years. Within that time we have 4 more children, 3 more boys and one girl. We finally get enough money to join our family in America, and we live there for quite some time to a very old age, and Motel is very sickly and bed-ridden. I feel lived a grand life though, enjoying my new family, but always remembering the traditions of my past. Hodel (Ebby Rylant) My name is Hodel and I am the second born daughter to Tevye and Golde. I love my family and all my sisters but I have always wanted something better out of life; something more than just getting married and raising a family in our little town of Anatevka. I want to know all I can about everything around me and so growing up, I listened to my papa and the others in our village who taught about religion and the history and traditions of our people. There are a lot of traditions and ways of doing things. It has always been very important to me that these traditions be followed and continued through the generations. I really like spending time with others and just talking, but everyone is always too busy. I wished my older sister would talk to me more but Tzeitel was always out playing with Motel and Chava was always reading books. Since they were busy and mama was busy, I spent a lot of time with my little sisters and I taught them everything I could about the world and how things work. I always had my sights set on the Rabbi’ son, Mendle. I know being from a poor family didn’t make my chances very good, but I thought that if I were to marry him, I would be able to do some things I never could. He would have a lot of status when he became Rabbi and so would I. Then one day this student from Keiv came along and everything changed… Perchik had all these ideas about the world and how it really worked. At first I thought he was very rude because he talked back to the elders and had other ways of doing things. He told us we should speak out against those who treated us badly. He said that things would get worse for us. I thought he was crazy!! But I listened to what he had to say and soon realized he had really seen the world and really knew what it was like. He wanted to make a difference for everyone, not just himself. He wasn’t afraid to say what he thought or felt even to strangers. One day, as I was talking to him, he asked me to dance with him. People in our village never really danced with each other. The men danced together and so did the women but never did men dance with women. At first I was very scared and shy but then found it was fun and exciting. When we danced at Motel and Tzeitel’s wedding, I thought Papa was really going to be mad at us but then he joined in!!! I knew I had to be with Perchik. He would take me away from my boring life and show me great places. I knew it would be hard for us but we would be helping many, many people, including those left in Anatevka. Saying good bye to my family and especially papa was very hard and very sad. I really miss them and hope they will be all right. As for me now, I have 10 children. My days are very busy at home but I am able to find time to teach dance lessons to the children in our village. It is very rewarding for me and I can contribute to our family income. I enjoy my life with Perchik and our family. He is very successful at the University and I think our children will very successful as well. I worry about Alex as he is very smart and wants to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the Russian Revolution. I hope he will be come a scholar instead and stay safe. I am looking forward to a long life here in our town of Kiev. Chava (Kari Grunberg) Chava was born in Anatevka, and grew up there with her parents and four sisters. She was the third born and very different from her siblings. She had a thirst for knowledge and loved to read, finding an escape from everyday realities and expectations in the fantasy of her literature. Often times she would spend hours of her spare time reading, lost in her imagination in a world of possibility and opportunity that her own life did not provide. Chava was devoted to her family whom she loved with all her heart, and being the youngest of the three older daughters, she was a spark of joy for everyone. Her playful attitude, simple happiness, and graceful demeanor were embraced by her father, who only wanted the best possible life for her. Chava was a dreamer and intellectual whose sweet disposition was admired by all who knew her. While Chava was growing up, her two older sisters defied the stronghold of Jewish tradition through their marriages. Tzeitel and Motel arranged their own marriage with permission from Tevye, and Hodel and Perchik arranged their marriage so definitely that they only asked for Tevye’s blessing. Chava, however, with the example of her sisters’™ marriages and her own open mind, fell in love with a man outside of the religion, a Russian named Fyedka. Though the relationship was strongly disapproved of by her father, Chava’s dreams and passion drove her to follow her heart, marry Fyedka, and express her defiance of the stereotypical hatred between the two cultures. Disowned by her father for her actions, Chava still hoped for reconciliation. The break in the relationship was absolutely devastating for her, but she could not help her love and took a stand for her moral beliefs, longing for the day when she could completely reunite with Tevye. When forced to leave Anatevka, Chava and Fyedka moved to Cracow, Poland, where they hoped to escape cultural intolerance and prejudice. She wrote to her family in America every week, informing them of her new lifestyle, the books she was reading, and the births of her three girls. However, when the Nazis came to Poland, Chava was betrayed by a neighbor who revealed her identity. Her daughters and Fyedka were spared and Chava urged Fyedka to leave for America to ensure their safety. Always optimistic and dreaming of survival, Chava was taken to a concentration camp where she lived for five years in terrible hardship. She was freed by the Allied forces and was then able to join Fyedka and her daughters in America, still hoping for reconciliation with her father. Sphrintze (Grace Experience Blewer) First of all, there is what I know from the book, "Tevye's Daughters," by Sholom Aleichem that I read this summer. In this story (which you might already know), she is a young woman and has the PERFECT match: A young man from a very wealthy family, AND they love each other very much. But his mother, who is a widow, doesn't approve of her son marrying the son of the dairyman, and so she moves her family away. Sprintze is so sad that she kills herself -- drowns herself in a pond. It's VERY DEPRESSING. But then there is also what we've talked about in rehearsal and what is written in the script. And that younger Sphrintze, the girl I am playing on the stage, is really happy. She has four great sisters. The three older ones read or they have ambition or they are willing to take chances. And, as you can see in "Matchmaker," they have great senses of humor. And so I think Sphrintze looks up to them, especially to Hodel -- who seems the most likely to spend time with the two youngest sisters. Now, I don't think Sprintze likes Yente very much. Why? Yente seems always to bring tension into the house. There is also Perchick. Sprintze finds Perchick very confusing. He has a lot to say and half the time she thinks the morals of his stories make no sense. At first she is a little skeptical of him, and his constantly being at the house. Eventually she grows to like him, though not always to understand him, But I believe she loves her parents and really does see much of the world as lots of fun. Everything is still a big game for her. She doesn't yet understand the darkness that is approaching. She respects sabbath prayer as a time to be serious. Other than that, however, she thinks most of the world is really funny and bizarre. And it seems to me that she is a bit of an outdoor girl. She is always playing outside or being asked to play outside. Bielke (Elana Valastro) I’m Bielke, the youngest daughter of Tevye’s family. My story is in the book Tevye’s Daughters, but I find that depressing, so this is the story that I prefer to tell. I was named after my great-grandma on my papa’s side. Her name was Bayla (which means beautiful one) and my name also means beautiful. I am eleven years old, and I love to be happy. I especially enjoy playing outside with my sister Shprintze. My whole family is really great, and I look up to every single one of them. I try to stay positive, even when things are hard. I think my closest relationship in my family is with my mother Golde. I feel protected when I am with her. Sometimes I get a little afraid of my father Tevye because of his loud voice, although I know that he just wants what’s best for us all. Hodel is really courageous and funny, and she makes me laugh a lot. I already miss her terribly; she has left for Siberia. I am very concerned. She’s going to be marrying Perchick. He’s nice, but he’s mostly confusing. His lessons were okay although sometimes I was skeptical that he wasn’t just making things up. When I’m worried about something, I know one of the people I can always go to is Tzeitel. She has such good common sense. I’ve known her husband Motel for a really long time, so he was already like family. I know they will be really happy together, and I love their baby, Kumbatu. Chava was teaching me how to read. She loves books, and I love talking with her. She knows so much! I’m not sure what’s going to happen though – Papa is so mad that she married Fyedka. He doesn’t even let us talk about her! It’s really awful. I don’t really connect with Yente, especially after what she says at Tzeitel and Motel’s wedding. Not only does she scare me a little, but also, I trust my family; I know that if something was dangerous for any of us, Papa would protect us. So when my family goes a bit against traditions and Yente is against it, I know that it’s okay because Papa and Mama are mostly okay with it. I am really sad that everyone is moving apart because I hate goodbyes. I’m going to miss my sisters so much. I hear that we’ll get to go on a train and a boat; that sounds really fun! I hope that life in America will be even better than our life here, and that someday, we’ll all get to be together again. Grandma Tzeitel’s (Martha Alexander) Grandma Tzeitel died at the ripe old age of 85 of pneumonia. She outlived her husband, Abram, by 20 years, and she was proud to say so! During her widowhood, she doted on, and fretted about the future of her great grandchildren, but especially Tzeitel, who was named after her. Her only regret, on her death bed, was that she never had the comfort of knowing that they were betrothed to good husbands. She, herself, only had one child, and blamed this on her husband, who she felt wasn’t fertile enough due to years being exposed to lye as a soap maker. She vowed then, never to use soap again, but would rather scrub her neck and behind her ears, with sand. Because she was unable to have many children, she turned her grief into some good by weaving cloth, and making prayer shawls and head coverings for many of the children in the village. Hence, her fingers were arthritic, rough and cracked from twisting wool into yarn, and washing with sand, but the children in the village didn’t seem to mind at all. The Life of a Rebel: A Collection of Letters and Diaries by Perchik Kerensky Translated by Benjamin Hain Translator’s note: Much Perchik wrote is not included in this brief summary of his life. I have done my best to distill all his works down to the most crucial events, the ones that had the greatest impact on his life. October 11th, 1889 Today is my eleventh Birthday! But I had to beg in the streets again. How I hate to beg— to kneel in the mud just for a scrap of bread for my birthday dinner. But today something special happened. I was at the market place in the Village and I saw a man. He was standing in the middle of the street, shouting at people to take up arms against the rich. I thought he was being silly and I told him so. How can we beat the rich when they have all the money? He laughed; he had a nice big laugh. He wore no cap and had wild black hair. I asked him why he did not have his head covered and he said he was not a Jew, he was Russian. I did not know there were any nice Russians and I told him so. He laughed again. His eyes shone when he laughed. They were the same color as his hair, and just as wild, but he didn’t scare me. He asked me to help him the rest of the afternoon. I carried around his satchel and he yelled. It was fun. I learned that his name was Raskolnikov and he was a student from the city to the north. I don’t remember its name, but sometimes Papa has to go there for work. I will ask him if I can go next time. When it started to get dark Raskolnikov gave me 10 kopecks for my help! Then he sent me home. That’s when I sat down to write, but it’s almost dark so I should go home now. * * * * * When I got home I ran in to tell Mama about my day, but she was crying. Papa is dead, she told me, an accident at work. Papa swept the sidewalks in front of the Russian shops. A Russian man pushed him into the street and he fell under a carriage. That’s what Mama told me. I think I should feel sad, but I don’t. I just feel angry. Why did the man have to push Papa? Couldn’t he have gone around? Why are we always treated badly? What is wrong with being a Jew? Maybe it is the Russians who are wrong. It’s their fault papa is dead. Mama is still crying. I don’t know what to do for her. I just can’t take it anymore, this town, the people, how we are always picked on! I’ll leave! I’ll run away! But what about Mama? Maybe it would be better for her if I left. Then she will only need to feed herself. But what if she is sick? Who will take care of her? God, please help me! October 28th, 1889 I have been in Kiev for nearly a week, but I just learned how to spell its name. To me it will always be the city to the north. I wish I could find my friend Raskolnikov. The city is so big-he could be anywhere. I mostly stay in the alleys. The main road is full of people and carriages. There are many people here. I met one man who couldn’t speak Russian very well. He had a funny accent and a big red mustache; I’ve never seen anything like it. He said he was from the west, a place called Ireland. I want to know more about it, I want to know more about everything. There is so much to learn. I wish I had enough money to go to school. I made a new friend today. Her real name is Evacska, but she doesn’t like to be called that. She says her name is Eva. It means life. I was exploring a new alley when I found her crying. She said it was nothing, but I know that she was lying. She wants to go to school too, but she’s not allowed in. I think its stupid; why can’t girls learn too? She also doesn’t have a family, but she lives at an orphanage. When it got dark she wanted me to come with her, but I like living on the street—not the begging, I hate begging, but the adventure. She said that she would be at the temple tomorrow for Sabbath, so I’m going to go there to. November 17th, 1889 It was cold last night. I didn’t know where to go. I went to the temple. I’ve been to services there with Eva, but I never really paid attention. I don’t know why, back home I was good, but whenever I am around Eva I lose track of where I am. I don’t like it. When I got to the temple the doors were locked so I curled up on the doorstep. In the morning the rabbi came. I had never talked to him before, but he was really nice. He told me I could come in and then we talked. He was really young for a rabbi. I liked him. He had black hair like Raskolnikov, but his eyes where warmer, not so crazy. He had a lot of funny ideas, and I had heard some of the others on Sabbath call him a radical, but I think he’s smart. He doesn’t just do what he’s told, he does what he thinks is right. He has a small apartment behind the temple and he told me I could stay there for as long as I wanted. This is one of the happiest days of my life. Translator’s note: For the next several years life for Perchik develops in Kiev. His friendship with Eva continues to bloom, but Perchik is very much still a confused boy. He lived at the temple and the rabbi began to teach him. It is during this time that Perchik begins to see the bible as not just a collection of stories, but as a tool from which to learn and teach. He enters the university at 19, eight years after the above entry. May 5th, 1897 In lecture today, a man came to speak to us. His name was Karl Marx. He had many inspiring ideas about society; he says that the working class should rise up and overthrow their oppressive superiors. I would agree with him if I could just see a way for it to happen. But the poor in the city are so degraded; I don’t believe they have the will to even raise a voice, let alone arms. I am meeting Eva tonight and I will discuss it with her. Our conversations are always the high point of my day. We sit under a tree in the park and talk or laugh. Sometimes we just sit, without making a sound—just the two of us—together. I must go; I would not be late for the world. * * * * * Oh God! Oh God! She’s dead! We were in the park, under the tree—Oh god! There were so many of them. They just came out of the darkness. 5—I don’t know—6?! Some of them grabbed me, one hit me, I don’t remember! One grabbed her, pulled her hard against him. She screamed. He hit her. I couldn’t do anything. The man tore at her skirt. The Pig! He was a monster. She fought him, I tried to break free—but there were so many! He hit her again, this time with his cane. She went limp. I don’t know what happened next, but some how I broke free. There was blood, I prayed it wasn’t hers. Why?! Why her?! The cane was on the ground— it was covered in blood. There was a large diamond on the top. It was warm and slick in my hands, but I didn’t care. I just slashed. Someone grabbed me from behind. I hit him, three times, maybe four. He let go. I ran over to Eva. She wasn’t moving! She wasn’t breathing! Oh God—why? The man who grabbed me wasn’t moving either. I was going to hit him again—all I wanted to do was to keep hitting him forever. It was his fault! He killed her! There was a pool of blood around his head, soaking into the furs he was wearing. He wasn’t breathing either. I didn’t care; he was just a rich pig. A gluttonous monster! I hate him! I hate all of them! Translator’s note: Perchik was forced to flee Kiev the next day. He decided to follow in the footsteps of the idol of his youth, the student Raskolnikov. He began to roam the country, preaching about social reform and ending the tyranny of the rich. He never stopped striving to learn and teach. It is at this point, about a year after Eva’s death, Perchik enters Anatevka and the subsequent events of Fiddler on the Roof take place. After being arrested he lived in Siberia with his wife Hodel until the First World War, at which point he was released from the prison to make room for the incoming P.O.W.s. He and Hodel return to Anatevka, but discover their family and friends have left. They move to Kiev. The temple were Perchik had lived was abandoned so he and Hodel decide to live there. Perchik became a Professor at the university and he and Hodel lived in the city until they were claimed by old age. They had ten children. Their eldest son became a key member in the Russian Revolution and a prominent figure in history, eventually following in his father’s footsteps when he began teaching at Stanford University. His name was Alexander Kerensky Shaindel (Wendy Valastro) I was born in a small town near Anatevka. My father, Chaim, was a laborer. I was the youngest of 2 children. My brother, Abraham, died from scarlet fever when he was only 3 years old. Now an only child, my parents had many dreams for me. When our matchmaker told my parents about Meyer, they were so happy. Meyer was a respected tailor in Anatevka, a bit older than me, but they knew he could provide us with a good living. When we got married, Meyer was 22, and I was 18. Life was hard, but Meyer was a good man, and we were very happy. Our son, Motel, was born when I was 20. He was only 18 months old when my Meyer died tragically from a heart attack. Soon after, both of my parents also became ill; we didn’t have money to pay for doctors, and my parents passed away within a half year of each other, leaving Motel and I to somehow survive. I thought my life was over, and were it not for my dear, sweet Motel, I’m not sure how I would have gone on living. With the help of our wonderful community of Anatevka, somehow we made it through those rough years. I took on various jobs, cooking and cleaning, to help support us as best as I could. We had very little, and Motel would often occupy himself playing with his father’s spools of thread. The different colors became different people, and he would retreat into the world of his imagination. A nearby family, Tevye, Golde, and their 5 daughters often invited us for Sabbath dinners. Tevye’s good friend, Benjamin, was a tailor, and he took a liking to Motel. Motel would sometimes play in Benjamin’s shop. When Motel was about 9, he became an apprentice to Benjamin. He helped him clean his shop and eventually learned all the necessary skills to become a tailor. Motel’s friendship with Tevye’s oldest daughter Tzeitel, which had begun when they were young, was deepening; they became best friends. When Tzeitel was 19, she was promised in marriage to another person; however, she and Motel had already secretly pledged to be married (which we all found out about later!). Tevye agreed that Tzeitel could marry Motel, and the joy that I felt for my only son was unlike anything I had felt in a long time. Seeing him so happy and becoming part of a family again made me realize that G-d does work miracles. Motel and Tzeitel had a baby boy, my grandchild and jewel Asher (Motel and Tzeitel lovingly call him Kumbatu). Motel saved enough money to buy an old sewing machine and again, seeing him so happy was a blessing. Tragedy then struck again when we were forced out of Anatevka. Some of Tevye’s family went to America, but Tzeitel, Motel, and I went to Warsaw. We are trying to raise enough money to be able to join Tevye in America some day soon. Fruma Sarah (Kelly Kendall) Sarah was an obedient young woman from outside of Anatevka whose parents made an extremely fortunate match with the young Lazar Wolf. As a dowry, Sarah brought with her a rope of pearls that had been handed down from mother to daughter for generations. They pleased Lazar Wolf because he felt the pearls increased his stature in the town. As Lazar’s wealth grew, he gifted Sarah (with whom he was well pleased) with more pearls, necklaces, bracelets, and brooches. Sarah kept a good home, assisted Lazar in his work and waited anxiously for children. After 4 years of marriage, Sarah joyously announced her pregnancy to Lazar Wolf. The couple waited out the nine months, eagerly anticipating the birth, they were certain, of their son. When Sarah’s time came, Lazar went for the midwife and broke out the glasses and bottles for celebrating. Sarah’s labor went on and on, until after 3 days a son was born. . .still born. Sarah died moments later. Lazar removed the pearls from around her neck, weeping. In death, Sarah is angry and vengeful that she couldn’t have the life that she had wanted. She will not allow anyone else to have it either. The Rabbi of Anatevka (Len Rubin) My father was a Rabbi, his father was a Rabbi and his father before him. It has been our family’s destiny to serve God. It is my hope that my son Mendle continues the tradition, but with the trouble in the town, he has spoken about going to America. My God bless and be with him. My wife, Shainey, passed away two and a half years ago. I was devastated and for a long time my responsibilities as Rabbi of Anatevka were affected. But, time heals and before you know it, Yenta was trying to arrange a match with the widow Shaindel. My plans are to go to the Holy Land where I hear there are people working to establish a Jewish State. A place where Jews would be able to live in peace. If I could, in some way, contribute to that effort, my life would have been worth something Avram the bookseller (Steven Grunberg) Actually, my name is Avram ben Mordecai (my father’s name was Mordecai). I am a bookseller; my father was a bookseller; his father was a bookseller; and his father was a bookseller. Five generations back, I had an ancestor who was a rabbi. But he had two sons and it was a small town that could only support one rabbi. So his oldest son, my great-great-granduncle, became a rabbi, and the second son, my great-great-grandfather, became a bookseller. We say that my great-great-granduncle’s family got the Holy Book, but we got all of the other books. Not a bad trade, and we have always maintained our interest in reading and scholarly activities. I pride myself on reading the Talmud and also reading about the outside world. When the merchants from Kiev bring books that I buy to re-sell in our village, they also bring me newspapers. That is why I am always the one who delivers news of the outside world to the others in the village. My wife Sara and I have two sons. You know about Daniel, who married Rachel. It was one of the last marriages arranged by Yente before children started choosing wives and husbands for themselves. Daniel loves reading and is as curious about the world as I am. What an irony! A boy who loves reading married to a girl who can hardly see! But when I visit their home in the evening, he is reading to her; and I can see that there is love in that house. When we leave Anatevaka, I must decide where to go. I am a great friend of Lazar Wolf and am often seen with him in the tavern or in the shops; so if Lazar decides to go to America, then I will take my family and go to America as well. Of course, while he goes to Chicago, I go to New York since a second cousin of my wife lives there and can help us get settled. I am fortunate and through hard work and prayer, I am able to open a bookshop within the Jewish community on the Lower East Side of New York. I had wanted my son to follow me as a bookseller, but he does me one better! He follows our interest in the outside world and becomes a reporter for the Daily Forward, the most well-known Yiddish newspaper in New York at that time. Instead of just reading the news, he writes the news. I am particularly proud of Daniel’s son Samuel. My grandson is a “first generation American” and speaks English as well as he speaks Yiddish. Still, being Jewish in New York in the 1920’s, there are limits on how and where he can pursue his education. After much hard work and study, he was able to go to one of the finest universities that regularly accepted Jews – Columbia University right here in New York. Not only that, he chose to study at the Columbia University School of Journalism! And after graduation, he became a star reporter for that famous newspaper, The New York Times. I am older now and my vision is also failing. However, whenever Samuel writes a story about the world that appears in The New York Times, he comes to my apartment and reads it to me himself – just like his father Daniel used to read to Rachel. Not bad for a poor Jewish bookseller from Anatevka! Nachum Aron Goldstein (Rob Parzych) b. 09/01/1851 in Balakovo d. ??/??/???? Occupation: Blacksmith m. 05/25/1870 to Klara Rabinovich (b.01/14/1852 d.06/30/1891) one daughter Sofia Raisa Goldstein (b. 12/09/1872 d. 06/30/1891) ***Nachum continued to work at the blacksmith shop in Balakovo, after having apprenticed there. The shop had a beautiful view of the Volga River. But even more beautiful was the woman who was chosen to be his bride: Klara Rabinovich. Unlike many of his chums, Nachum actually knew Klara before they were wed. Her father was one of the shops’ customers, and Klara would often accompany him to the shop. Once they were married, they quickly settled into the rhythm of a happy marriage. When Klara gave birth to their beautiful daughter, Nachum knew his life couldn’t become any more full. Unexpectedly, Nachums’ brother Leonid became ill and died in the autumn of 1879. Leonid was also a blacksmith and owned his own little shop in the southern village of Anatevka. So, it was decided the Nachum would move his family there and continue the business. The trip was long and difficult, but the community was warm and welcoming. It wasn’t long before the Goldstein’s were part of the fabric that makes a village. Klara was not able to have more children, but Nachum never complained, he was perfectly happy with God’s plan for his family. That was, until June 30,1891. What was to be a joyful day, a blessed day…became the beginning of a nightmare that Nachum still lives in the shadow of. His beloved Klara, his darling perfect Sofia, and her husband of 10 hours, Mikhail, were all killed in a train accident. They were traveling together after the wedding to the home of Mikhail’s grandparents, who were not able to attend the wedding. The train ran off the tracks and most of the people on board died. The world stopped that day, for Nachum. He tried to continue to work. He couldn’t focus. He saw Klara and Sofia everywhere: in every flower, in every cloud. He heard their voices in the wind, in the creak of the floorboards. Everywhere, everywhere…nowhere. As Nachum spiraled into despair, the other villagers, with a mix of pity and kindness, looked after him. Were it not for them, he too would surely have perished. Luckily, Mendel, the Rabbi’s son, took special interest in the well being and care of Nachum. Offering him shelter in the Synagogue’s shed. When the edicts from the Tsar started to come, Nachum, like every other member of the village, worried about his future….where to go.. who to run to. In the confusion of the forced exodus, families were separated. Friends lost track of one another. It is still unclear what eventually became of Nachum Goldstein. It was said he made his way to South Africa, to a cousin there. Others said he was imprisoned by the Russians and died… *** Excerpts from a conversation recorded 06/15/1935 between Mendel, the Rabbi’s son and his wife Rachel. Taken from “Memories of Anatevka” by Rob Parzych Mordcha—the Innkeeper (Steve Contompasis) I am from a line of innkeepers (grandfather and father before me) My father died at an early age of tuberculosis, and my mother also died soon after (possibly a suicide though kept somewhat silent about) and I took over the inn at age 20 I married young and had a child, Schloime, yet my first wife died in childbirth with Schloime. I am now remarried and have a young family. These tragic events in many ways have shaped me and my approach on life. My sadness is somewhat hidden by my wise cracking joking manner, and my outlook on life is actually quite positive considering I have had to suffer much, I am not flustered by many of the events around me; even the move from Anatevka is viewed somewhat fatalistically and nonchalantly. I am a survivor. Because of my central position in town , and the fact that I must assimilate with others i.e. the Russians, I am often looked up to by others as an unofficial sort of leader or mayor, and of course as a master of ceremonies at the Inn. When being required to leave Anatevka, I plan on settling my family with a cousin in the north end of Boston, working there in an inn and tavern, and beginning a new life my family and me. Sarah, Mordcha's wife (Kelly Kendall) "I am Sarah, the wife of Mordcha, Anatevka's innkeeper. A match was made between us after his first wife died in childbirth. He needed someone to care for his boy, Schloime, while he ran the inn. I was agreeable, having lost my own husband to the bloody lung disease not long before. Mordcha accepted me kindly and has been a decent, good husband these thirty years past. Schloime is like my own child, though still unmarried at 30 years old! He is a picky boy. My Yakov, the child of my marriage with Mordcha, is a good boy and works with his Papa in the inn. He may be matched before Schloime if Yente is successful in her work! She has her eye on one of Tevye the dairyman's daughters...one of the younger ones I think. Ah well. We are all being forced to leave Anatevka, our home, so it may never come to pass. The Pogroms! It is horrible, all over our land. What will happen to us, God only knows. Mordcha says that God will watch over his chosen people, but how will he know where we are if we leave our village and our people and all that we know, I ask him! We are going to a place called Boston in America. Mordcha says he will make another inn there, a place for all to be welcome, and of course drink his vodka! I will go with him. I will work with him. Together we will survive this horror, although I worry for my sons; my Yakov and Schloime. What will happen to them in that place, America? Will they work, marry, study the Torah, be safe? A mother worries..." Schloime (Buddy Dubay) I was born in 1876, in Anatevka Russia. My parents owned the Inn so I never knew hunger as a child. I grew up in a big place, knowing everyone. In many cases, I was exposed to people’s secrets as they became intoxicated. I also witnessed fights and other drunken behavior. Generally, I grew up happy and wealthy, if a bit too soon. I always helped around the Inn with the assumption that one day it would be mine. This assumption proved false when the pogrom took place and Anatevka was emptied of Jews. I was separated from my parents within days as they traveled west by rail. I know knew how, one minute they were there, and the next, they were gone. I never saw them again. I settled in Warsaw, Poland. There were many other Jews and it seemed safe. I worked as a laborer and many other occupations until I had saved enough money to open my own inn. I prospered for the next 33 years. In 1914, I married a woman and had 2 Children. Chiam born in 1916 and Sarah, born in 1918. Both children were healthy and had childhoods not unlike my own. Sarah married a grocer in 1935 and moved across town. Chiam married in 1938 and moved her family into the Inn. In 1939, Poland was invaded by Germany. Before long, Warsaw as contained by a wall which was guarded by soldiers. The newly created “Warsaw Ghetto” was a brutal environment which was the equivalent of a big prison. Soldiers patrolled the streets and Jews were forced to wear the star of David at all times. Food, clean water and the most basic supplies were scarce. People turned in others to get special treatment and/or status from the Nazis. People disappeared every day, never to be seen again. I survived the Warsaw Ghetto for years. One day, I was herded into a box car which was over packed with other poor souls. Oxygen was almost non-existent. Prevalent were the smells of urine, feces and death. As the train rumbled into the unknown, I passed out. I awoke to a gun stock in the stomach. I got up and walked with the half dead mass thought a gat reading “Auswitz: Arbeit Macht Frei” The next year in the death camp was indescribably horrible. I miraculously survived. Auswitz was liberate by the Allies less that 24 hours before I was scheduled for “delousing” which would have meant certain death by poisonous gas. After 8 months of physical recovery in an Allied hospital, I was reunited with my daughter Sarah and we smuggled ourselves aboard a ship to New York. At 70, I started a new live in the USA with my daughter. Sarah took jobs in restaurants and finally was able to buy a small restaurant in the city. It did well enough to pay the bills. We lived out our lives together in the city. Schloime died in his sleep in 1963. He was 87. Yakov (Brian Evans) My name is Yakov. I was born in 1926 and was apprenticed to Label the carpenter. My father Mortcha owned the Inn in Anatevka so we were fairly well off. One day when my father was on his way home from work he met some Russians who told us to leave. He soon told me that we were moving to Boston. On the boat I developed dysentery and subsequently I wasn’t allowed to stay in America. I was shipped back to Russia while the rest of my family made it into America leaving me on my own. I was taken in by a poor family in Stalingrad. The family was Christian but I remained a faithful Jew. They respected my religion and hid me throughout the war. After the war was over I finished my training as a carpenter with their neighbor, and then worked up enough money to move to America. I spent the next ten years searching for my father. In 1978 I found my father working at the north end of Boston. I moved in across town and spent the rest of my life working at the Boston Wood Shop, finally fulfilled. Label the carpenter (Marc Tischler) I am a carpenter/cabinet maker (Tischler means cabinet maker in old AustroHungarian dialect). I was able to leave Anatevka and I made it to NYC with my wife and children. Many more distant family members were lost. It was a very sad time for us. After a few years, we moved to New Haven, Connecticut where we raised our family. You will be amazed to hear that my grand parents help to found the Jewish Community Theater in New Haven and (My real mother's grandfather - my great grandfather - was a Soviet Jew who escaped Russia just before things got really bad. This is his real story! As a child I saw them do Fiddler, 2 different productions with my grandfather as the Rabbi and my grandmother as Frumah Sarah.) Mirila his wife (Grace Freeman) You got my dear husband Label's (Mark Tischler) back story. Our whole family has the same story. We are a very tightly knit family. I really like that it is Mark's authentic story. In addition to this historic part of our back story, my feelings and personality are that I am the eternal optimist. I believe there is good to come of everything. I think that's why we are successful in getting to New York and then to New Haven, Ct. When men and women start dancing together there is good in that. Hodel and Perchick marrying is good. Change is for the better whether we can see it at the moment or not. Our faith and our traditions are good and will continue no matter where we venture. Adam (Connor Kendall) My name is Adam. I am 13 years old. I am the apprentice to the Bookseller in Anatevka. He has taught me to read and write, for which I am very grateful. My friends an I have lots of fun goofing around in Anatevka, especially Caleb and I. We were always getting in trouble, but never enough to break tradition. Yente has been trying to find Caleb and I matches, which is too terrifying to even think about. If it happens though, at least we both go down together! My family is my mother and father whom I love very much. My father is the carpenter of Anatevka. I can’t forget my two sisters, Rivka and Birila. I don’t know who has more fun teasing who! After being forced to leave Anatevka, my family and I on went on a boat to New York City. After a few years there, we moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where future generations would become very attached to the community. Schmeril the Teacher (Aaron Glodberg) I was born in a shtetl called, located southwest of Kovno, the capital of Lithuania. I met and married my wife Fradel in Anatevka. I am the local Hebrew and Talmud teacher for boys in our village. Fradel takes in laundry and raises chickens. Our two children, Caleb and Bluma, are our delights. Caleb is the mischievous one, always hiding when it is time to cut firewood or do chores around our home. Bluma loves to sing, and is attuned to the beauty of nature, even in our poor town of Anatevka. My father was a shochet (butcher) and his father was a Hebrew and Talmud teacher. I am a traditionalist in my outlook about life in Anatevka. I barely make a living from teaching. Fradel helps a great deal with our finances. Caleb is almost of an age when he can be forcefully conscripted into the Czar’s army. Leaving Anatevka was emotionally wrenching, but necessary for the survival of my family. We took a horse and cart across the borders of Poland and Germany. We only traveled at night. We brought very little with us: heavy coats, blankets, our talaisim (prayer shawls), my wine cup, some of my books of Talmud, and Fradel’s candlesticks. We had to bribe our way to cross the borders. Bluma was sick when we arrived in Hamburg, so we had to pay a stiff fare to all board the ship bound for New York City. After over two weeks on the boat, during which we all became very ill, we arrived at Castle Gardens at the southerly tip of New York City. Fortunately, we all passed our humiliating physical inspections. My cousins met us in Manhattan; we stayed over night and then began the journey to Burlington. My brothers, Isaac, Mayer, and Hirsch, and their wives, Zelde, Sarah, and Esther welcomed us with open arms. My brother David moved to Keeseville, New York, and my brother Max, moved to Chicago, Illinois. One year after our arrival in Vermont, my brother, Isaac, returned to Chaicachuk to bring our parents, Jacob and Tobie, to Burlington. Now we make our home in Burlington, Vermont, where my brothers are all grocers. “Little Jerusalem” is what we call our simple neighborhood. Caleb and Bluma enjoy playing with their many cousins. My brothers and their families live on North Avenue, near Crowley, Intervale Avenue, and North Winooski Avenue. We study and pray at Ohavi Zedek Synagogue on Archibald Street. Caleb and Bluma do well in public school and Hebrew school. Fradel has a job in the local clothing store. After five years of renting, my brothers have helped me buy our home on Bright Street where I continue to teach Hebrew and Talmud to the boys. The four synagogues in town have joined forces to build our Talmud Torah school on North Winooski Avenue (in 2006 - the Vermont Legal Aid Building) and I have become the school principal. Our life in Burlington is good to us. We are not wealthy, but we are able to share our family traditions and religious holidays with our large extended family. Fradel, Caleb and Bluma have decided to add to my comments about life in Anatevka and Burlington. The Poppa never gets the final word! So what else is new? Fradel his wife (Kathy Richards) I was born in Anetevka and grew up with my best friend Mirala. Mirala and I use to dream about getting married and often talked about what it would be like if we were able to pick our own husbands. Growing up in Anatevka also was Label who I always secretly liked. However, when the matchmaker chose my husband she chose Schmeril the teachers apprentice and matched Mirala with Label. I watched my best friend marry the boy I secretly liked growing up and entered into my own marriage with a sense of responsibility and tradition. Schmeril and I settled into a life in Anatevka with our two children, Bluma and Caleb. My husband is very strict and runs our family with discipline and tradition. I, however, still have that desire to try new and different things, which I am trying to pass on to my children. When I am telling Chava that I can’t believe that Tzeitel and Motel are getting married, it isn’t because I don’t think that they should, but that they had the courage to do what I couldn’t do. And than when Hodel and Perchick start dancing at the wedding, I realize that a whole new world is opening up to me in my small little village and I am going to grab it. That’s why I grab Shaindel and pull her over to dance with the men and the Rabbi. But my dreams of a changing and exciting world come crashing down around me when the Russians arrive and I realize that I just want a safe happy life for my family. When we are forced to leave Anatevka, we decide to move to Burlington Vermont where my husband has family who will sponsor us. I am excited about seeing new places and hope that my children will have opportunities that I didn’t have. I am leaving Anatevka with a deeper understanding of tradition and will never forget the lessons I have learned here. Being together as a family, is the most important thing to me, and I trust that God will take care of us, wherever we go. Bluma (Hillary Capps) My name is Bluma and I am 18 years old. I live at home with my Mother, Fradel, my Father, Schmeril, and my younger brother Caleb in Anatevka. I have always lived here in this village, and can’t imagine being any other place. I am best friends with Sima, another young girl in my village. We are very close seeing as we have spent our entire lives growing up together in Anatevka. Neither of us are married or promised to someone yet. I love my family but I am ready to be married and move on to a new stage in my life, and start a family of my own. I enjoy singing and observing nature; often my Father catches me daydreaming outside when I should be doing my chores. My father is very strict and traditional and I respect him for that, but I would like to have more freedom and try new things. My mom, although she loves and respects my father, feels the same way, and I’m glad we can talk about this with each other. Leaving Anatevka and saying goodbye to the people I have grown up with, will be the hardest thing I have to do. My family and I will be very lucky to stay together and travel to America together. Our trek across Poland and Germany will be very difficult and I will get terribly sick just before boarding the ship to New York City. Once we arrive in New York, my family and I will travel to Burlington Vermont to stay with family there. We are all very lucky to have what we have and will always be grateful that we are alive and well together. Yitzuk the Shoemaker (Michael Tutt) Pictures from http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/30.html That’s me, Yitzuk Sandler, on the right with the hammer, when I was apprenticed as a cobbler to Herschel Baratonevsky. I was born September 15, 1860. That’s right I’m 45 and I’ve been a full time cobbler for 15 years. I am a widower. My wife Anna and one of our two children were killed during the pogroms of 1903 in Kishenev. I moved to Anatevka to be near my family. The wedding picture from above right is from my son, Isaac’s wedding in 1902. The wedding was a traditional sort of affair. He married the bookseller’s daughter, Hannah. They were spared from the pogrom because they moved to America shortly after the wedding and set up his own cobbler shop in Brooklyn, New York. After the 1905 pogrom of Anatevka, I made my way to America to live with my son and his family, stopping for a time in Hamburg, Germany. I remember arriving in Ellis Island in 1912 and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time. America is a wonderful place. Moishe the Fishmonger (David Dinsmore) My name is Moishe. I am the fishmonger of Anatevka. While most in my profession would be eking out a meager living, I am doing quite well. My wife, Surcha, came with a substantial dowry. This allowed me to get my fishing business going. Normally, that would be a tough way to earn a kopek but a discovered a way to really get ahead. No matter how good my catch would be, the people in the village still don’t have much money. The Russians, on the other hand, are a different story. I found that selling them caviar is very lucrative. Unfortunately, everything falls apart when we are forced to leave our village. Surcha is killed in an accident. I have a business opportunity in America, but I can’t afford to bring my two girls with me. I am forced to put them in an orphanage until I can send for them later. My heart is broken and I am a very lonely man, still trying to hold on to my traditions as a last foothold in my ever changing world. Herschel the blacksmith (Kevin Brislin) I am a simple, gentle, open-minded man. I believe in both tradition and the newer modern ways and feel there is room for both. I am peaceful, yet when push comes to shove, I am ready to fight. I became a blacksmith, with the dream of forging enough weapons to defeat the Russians and all persecutors of the Jews. The Life and Times of the Constable: Nicholas Bohnyak (Patrick Houle) The Early Days: Pre-Anatevka Nicholas Bohnyak was born in Moscow to an affluent family. His father was a military general and was quite respected over the entire country. Nicholas’ mother died when he was five years old giving birth to his brother, who also died during delivery. His mother’s death ended a rather tumultuous beginning of his life where his father and mother constantly argued over how he should be raised. Nicholas was very close to his mother, a gentle, caring woman, but Nicholas’s father believed that his mother coddled him and made him weak. After his mother’s death, his father was clear to raise his son without the more gentle influence of his mother. His father preached strength and a strong hand at all times. When Nicholas was picked on and bullied early on in school, his father would not show sympathy, but anger at his tears. “You are a Bohnyak!! Crying is not an option. It will only make your enemies bolder! Do not shame your family with your tears! Deal with this issue like a man!” he would yell after Nicholas’ tearful recounting of the events. Nicholas was a stellar student. His instructors saw him as someone with great potential, but were also very careful about the encouragement they gave him because of his father. His father made sure that he was taught about great leaders like Alexander the Great. His father had great plans of Nicholas being a great leader and politician. His father had many shocking and cruel ways to teach Nicholas lessons and to have him overcome fears. For example, his father, in order to cure Nicholas’ fear of swimming, brought Nicholas out over his head and held Nicholas under until Nicholas fought his way to the surface. He then made Nicholas swim back to shore. Nicholas graduated from the university with honors and was commissioned as an officer in the army. He quickly developed a reputation as a great strategist and leader. Over the years, through his education, he had developed an ability to find a way to make others carry out his wishes. He was a great motivator and used every tactic available, even if it meant getting his will done by instilling a great fear in his men of what he may do if something was not accomplished to his liking. He also developed a reputation as a brutal officer and became the one of the military’s favorite leaders when it came to putting down rebellions and disorderly conduct in various settlements. Once in a while, his brutality would cause other officers to complain and write about their strong objections to his work. This is an excerpt from a letter written to the general of Nicholas’ brigade about a rebellion that was quashed by the military: “…The man enjoys his work too much. Never before have I seen such brutality or disregard for human life. His men are bloodthirsty and he watches, seemingly uninvolved and untouched by the carnage around him, but to look deeper at the man, to talk to him, reveals a harsh man who takes delight in hurting others. When I shake his hand, I feel he has no soul…” This letter was disregarded because Nicholas’s performance was considered top notch. The truth was that Nicholas did enjoy the brutality, but not for it’s own sake. He enjoyed that order was being restored and that those deserving of punishment in his eyes, were finally getting what they deserved. Nicholas left the military to pursue greater things. He became very interested in politics and wanted to pursue that aspect of his life. He was very persuasive and had many friends who helped him get elected to the Constable post in Anatevka. He was able to point to his record of restoring and keeping order during his military career and won the trust of the people. He traveled to tell his father of his victory and plans of further success. His father was a sickly, bitter man at that time and after hearing of his son’s success, told him there was one more test he needed to pass. He ordered his son to kill him because he didn’t want to live in this type of condition: weak and ineffective. Without a thought, Nicholas put his hand over his father’s mouth and nose and essentially choked the life out of him. He left moments after to pursue his new career. Early Anatevka: The brutal reputation of Nicholas was not lost on the villagers of Anatevka. He could feel their fear and hatred of his presence and knew that in order to continue to succeed in his political life; he would need to handle Anatevka with more subtlety than he had the riots and uprisings. He would need to find a mole to help keep the peace, but no one would speak to him. One evening, on a routine patrol, he encountered a drunk Tevye stumbling home from the tavern. “Good evening your honor,” Tevye slurred. Nicholas stopped and returned the greeting. Over the next few weeks, he made it a point to greet and speak to this man each time they passed, slowly building a relationship that helped him keep order in Anatevka. Over time, he even began to like Tevye. He watched him the village and saw him as a hard worker and honest with his neighbors. He still saw him as a second class citizen, a “dog,” but was still amused by the old man. After Anatevka: Nicholas stayed in Russia attempting to keep order during the revolution and almost lost his life during the bloodshed that followed. Seeing the writing on the wall, Nicholas escaped to Poland before the deaths of the Tsar and his family, vowing that eventually he would return to his homeland and continue his political rise. By the time the revolution hit, Nicholas was the constable in a much larger province. In Poland with a new limp and several other battle scars, Nicholas attempted to reassert himself in that country, getting involved in law enforcement and becoming an elected official once again. Nicholas met his end during the World War II Nazi occupation of Poland. At first, he was revered among the Nazis for his help in rounding up those people that the country saw as undesirable. Not wanting a repeat of what happened during the revolution; Nicholas played both sides, however, secretly keeping open communication with rebel forces within the country. He didn’t want to put his complete support behind one group or another, waiting to see which way the war would go before choosing one side completely. The Nazis found out about his treachery and he was executed by gunfire. The Fiddler (Heather Bartlett) I am the Fiddler on the Roof. How did I get there? You ask. I’ll tell you. Every morning, my father, a violin craftsman, would set you to make and sell fiddles to the townsfolk of our little town, Anatevka. Every night, he would either come back and drop a coin in the large clay pot buy the door, or look at me and my tow brothers, put his hands on my shoulder (I being the eldest), and say, “Te’om, somewhere there is a life out there that is made for us. Some where, there is kindness, love, and compassion. We just need to find it.” And then he would begin my nightly fiddle lesson. I, being a young lad of only four years at the time, took this literally. After pondering where I could find the justice and peace he so passionately spoke of, I finally come to the conclusion that the roof of our house was the highest place that I could reach. So, every morning at sunrise, I would climb the old oak tree that took me right up to the top of the roof. There I would sit, waiting, sometimes until mid-morning (Mama did not appreciate me neglecting my chores). As time passed, and every morning I carried out the same routine, I would become anxious and bored looking for what I (in my childlike innocence) was sure would stand out as a light in our dark hour. That was when I decided to bring my fiddle with me, to help pass the time. Neighbors, passers-by, and even the farm animals all grew accustomed to hearing the high, light tones vibrating from my delicate fiddle, and it has become a tradition for me ever since. Every now and then, a rich merchant or Russian will pass by and, unlike the hard-working, gracious townsfolk of Anatevka, will give me an un-approving stare. They must not know that the reason I’m up on the roof is to overlook their cruelty and seek kindness. So, that is the reason why I fiddle up here every morning. I am merely seeking a better life. It’s a shaky business, balancing myself while striking a tune upon my fiddle, but I’m not ready to surrender my dream of peace. Not yet.
© Copyright 2018