Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Tevye Says “Shalom, Shabbat!” in Byelorussian Fiddler

When Igor Shapiro offered Eritchka to go to the theater, she expected to stare blankly at a stage for an hour and a half while actors made wild gestures and blabbed their Russian lines away.

“It will be a good language lesson, at least,” she thought. But when Eritchka arrived to the Yanka Kupala Theater in the center of Minsk, Igor informed Eritchka that Russian works are actually never allowed here-- only Belarusian shows. For Eritchka, this is an utter nightmare, as in 3 months she has learned at least a modest amount of Russian, but Belarusian, which lies somewhere between Ukrainian, Polish, and insanity, remained completely in obscurity to her. As the lights went out in the theater, Erichka heaved a heavy sigh, wondering how on earth she would stay awake for the next 90 minutes of national Belarusian theater in the Belarusian language.

As usual, nothing happened as Eritchka expected. The curtains went up, and out came a line of men and women wearing stereotypical 19th century peasant garb dancing what looked to be the Hora on a stage decorated with Chagall images. But this wouldn’t be the first time Eritchka had caught herself hallucinating Jewish images, so she tried to tell herself that this was a traditional Belarusian dance. But, Eritchka could have sworn that one of the characters was being called Motel, and then an older woman appeared who was named Golda. Eritchka knew these names. For some reason images of Zero Mostel from a Broadway musical kept entering her mind, and then it dawned on her: This is Belarusian Fiddler on the Roof! Now there was no need to struggle to understand the plot. Eritchka even realized that she understood better than everyone else in the room when Golda said “hamotzi” on the candles, and Tevya wished his family a “Shalom Shabbat!” in a very sephardi accent.

See Topol sing "L'chaim" from Fiddler on the Roof the way Shalom Aleichem would have wanted it.


Bob Jesus said...

Pookie Poo, you are the funiest writer, ever! I enjoyed reading your story immensly, especially about making "hamozi" on the candles!

Jen said...

This is the best blog in da groisse, groisse oylam!v Mazel tov!

Lyna said...

Hahahhahaa I love it. Wait, why in a sephardic accent? That makes me so happy! Do they speak sephardic in Belarus? Are the Fidler Family sephardic? I thought it was an Ashki thing

prof said...

help me to write biographies of great personnalities!
You can also write a letter to this personnalities and me I post it