Fiddler on the Roof

Anatevka resurrected? Feature in Foreign Policy Review misses a few Jewish details

Anatevka resurrected? Feature in Foreign Policy Review misses a few Jewish details

How many of us remember the mournful song that appears near the end of "Fiddler on the Roof" when the tzar’s soldiers kick the Jews out of their tiny village?

Hint: It goes like this. You can click here and watch the scene in the classic movie. You may want to have tissues nearby.

Anatevka, Anatevka.
Underfed, overworked Anatevka.
Where else could Sabbath be so sweet?

Anatevka, Anatevka.
Intimate, obstinate Anatevka,
Where I know everyone I meet.

Soon I'll be a stranger in a strange new place,
Searching for an old familiar face
From Anatevka.

When Sholom Aleichem wrote the story that inspired the 1964 musical (and 1971 film), Anatevka was a fictional name for a real life village just west of Kiev.

So what should pop up this week in Foreign Policy Review but the story of a real place called Anatevka? It's a fine story, yet it has one major hole, which we'll get to. Yes, we are talking about important religious details.

KIEV -- When the rabbi of Chernobyl, Mordechai Twersky, felt he was dying in 1837, he set out on a long walk from Kiev. He made it about 30 kilometers to the west, where he came upon a rolling green field of wildflowers on the banks of the Irpin River, outside the village of Hnativka.
It was there, he decided, that he would be laid to rest, having chosen the pastoral location, according to local lore, “because there is no house of idol worship, and the sound of impure bells won’t disturb my rest in the grave.”

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