The last several months have been in preparation for the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” in which I was privileged to be the Music Director. Last night we completed the final performance of four over the weekend. Never before has it been so personally rewarding – and I am tired today – but also sad that it is over. We have all lived in a “cocoon” like existence over at the Renton Civic Theater – not sure what was going on in the world around us at times – we were so immersed into the musical. Coming back to the “real world” today is not easy.
Bill Huls – the artistic director/box office manager/janitor – (as he calls himself) was very instrumental in helping our students understand the Jewish culture. Bill is married to a Jewish Lady – and he himself converted to Judaism. The students were intrigued and fascinated with Bill’s knowledge of the Jewish heritage and customs. It made our program much more authentic – especially in the scenes like “The Sabbath Prayer” in which the Jewish Mother always covered her eyes while saying a prayer – and the Father of the home went around and prayed a blessing over each child. This was very beautiful – and added so much to our story. Bill also was able to explain to our students that the Jewish people have always had to be ready to leave their homes throughout history – because of persecution. And we know this to be true when we read about the Jewish people (the chosen people) in the Bible. It made much for sense to them when trying to tell this story of one Jewish family living in Anatevka – forced to leave their home at the end of the story.
“Fiddler on the Roof” is also a story of tradition – and of resistance to that traditional way of doing things. All three daughters of the lead character, Reb Tevye – go against tradition – or the normal Jewish way of thinking and of doing things. There is a conflict between “old” and “new” ideas. It is a universal conflict – it goes far beyond the Jewish culture – and spills into our own world today – as we ourselves have fought for “new” ways of doing things – against what was the “old” or acceptable way that our Parent’s held to be true.
I love stories like this – even though they are written for a certain era – or culture – the story is universal – the conflict – the love – the power of family and community are something we can all identify with today. It is something our students will not quickly forget – and the songs will be forever imprinted on their brains.
And so we come back to reality. We come back to our own “traditions” in our own culture and families. We are back to sorting through the “old” ideas with the “new” ones of our children – and being okay with that. Coming back to the love that we have for our own families – and a bond that forever holds us together no matter what the circumstances, hard times, or changes. Love that is steady with the passing of time – love that holds on and lets go – all at once.
My prayer for you today is this: May you discover your own family “traditions” even if you thought you didn’t have any. May you treasure your loved ones today and be open to “new” ideas from your children – even as you try to hang on to the “old”.