Category Archives: History

Fiddler On The Roof Character Review: Fyedka

This will be my last character review post for Fiddler On The Roof. The next story/group of characters I will be writing about is……I’m not telling you. You will just have to come back to this blog and find out.  

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the musical Fiddler On The Roof. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie or any of the stage adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Fiddler On The Roof to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Prejudice is unfortunately part and parcel of our daily lives. But even with the hatred and prejudice, there are still some that see the person, not the label based on culture or religion. In Fiddler On The Roof, most of the major characters are Jewish. There are a handful of non-Jewish characters, but for the most part, they are background players.

Except for Fyedka.

Fyedka is a young man of the Christian faith who falls in love with Chava, Tevye and Golde’s middle daughter. She is equally in love with him. But a marriage between a Jew and Christian, especially in pre-revolutionary Russia was a big no-no. Unlike his compatriots, Fyedka does not harass his Jewish neighbors. He is open-minded and treats them with courtesy and respect.

To sum it up: Sometimes a writer has to break the mold when creating a character. Fyedka could have been a stereotype, a Russian Christian peasant who hates his Jewish neighbors because they are Jews. But because he is compassionate, respectful and open-minded, he is proof that tolerance, understanding and dialogue between people of different cultures and religions is possible. The reader and the writer just has to be willing to take the first step.

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If We Don’t Know About The Past, How Are We Supposed To Learn From It?

One of the mantras that has come out of The Holocaust is that unless the learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

Recently, several news outlets have reported that 4/10 millennials are either not aware of The Holocaust, or their knowledge is very basic. Even scarier is that 41% of those polled believe that the number of Jewish victims is exaggerated.

The results of the study create quite a few concerns. First, it reveals the very poor state of the American education system. Second, it opens the door to questioning the facts of The Holocaust, a concept that is especially dangerous in our current political climate.

These kids are our future leaders. If they do not have the knowledge of the past, they cannot learn from the mistakes of prior generations. Which, as history has demonstrated, opens the door to future massacres based on ethnicity or religion.

I feel sorry for our future with these kids leading the way.

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Fiddler On The Roof Character Review: Chava

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the musical Fiddler On The Roof. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie or any of the stage adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Fiddler On The Roof to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

These days, it’s not uncommon to date or marry outside of one’s culture or religion. But we don’t have to travel back too far in history to a time when the worst thing a person could do was choose a spouse who was not part of their religion or culture. In Fiddler On The Roof, Chava is the third of Tevye and Golde’s five daughters. While her older sisters take baby steps when it comes to choosing their spouses, Chava takes a giant leap above her sisters. Not only does she marry a Christian boy, Fyedka, without her parent’s knowledge or approval, but also converts away from Judaism in the process.

Her father reacts as one would expect him to react. He pushes her away while she pleads for his blessing. In the end, Chava receives her father’s blessing for her marriage, if only reluctantly.

To sum it up: Some characters take baby steps toward who they will be. Others take giant steps toward that future persona. Neither is right or wrong, it is determined by the narrative and character arc. What the writer has to do is make sure that the arc for that particular character is organic and natural. If the character’s journey feels forced and inorganic, the reader/audience will know it. The last thing any writer wants is for their narrative and characters to feel forced and inorganic, it is a surefire way to push away the audience or reader. That is the last thing any writer wants.

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Thoughts On Yom Hashoah 2018

Today is Yom Hashoah.

Today we say never again. Today we remember the millions of people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who were murdered by the Nazis and the collaborators simply for being who they were.

The problem is that while we say never again, ethnic genocide is still happening across the world.

The Rohingya Muslims are a minority from Myanmar. Since last summer, nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees escaped to Bangladesh. They were the lucky ones. Countless others were murdered for no other reason that being born a Rohingya Muslim.

It’s no secret that the war in Syria is responsible for the deaths of many innocent people. The gas attack last week in Douma left around 100 dead. The survivors, mostly women and children, scrambled to the local hospital to remove the chemicals from their bodies.

It’s 2018. I would have hoped that by now, we would have learned our lesson. We would have stood up to dictators and despots before they killed their own people. We would have stopped ethnic cleansing before it began.

I guess that our lesson has yet to be learned.

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Germany, 1933 Here We Come

America is supposed to be land of the free, home of the brave. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are one of the corners of our country, both culturally and legally.

One of the news items that has not been on the front page (but should be) is that the Department of Homeland Security is compiling a list of journalists and so-called “media influencers”.

While it is unknown what will be done to the individuals and organizations whose names appear on the list, the thought that this is happening in the United States of America in 2018 sends a chill down my spine.

Suppression of the free press is not something that happens in the United States. Suppression of the free press happens in countries like Iran and North Korea.

If this is not a sign that you know who and his minions are shredding the standards of American democracy to meet their own needs, I don’t know what is.

I only know that we still have the right to vote and we should all be using that right come the fall. If we don’t, the democracy that is the United States of America may soon be no more.

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It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America Book Review

Traditionally, a President is supposed to be responsible, mature, speak with intelligence and integrity, and represent everything that America stands for.

In his short time as President, Donald Trump has done exactly the opposite.

In David Cay Johnston’s new book, It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America, the author breaks down how Trump and his administration are ruining the lives of Americans, instead of fulfilling the promises made on the campaign trail.

He writes about wide-ranging issue such as climate change, the supposed wall that Mexico is supposed to pay for to keep out illegal immigrants, and removing the self-serving lobbyists that Trump promised to get rid of on his way to the Presidency.

After following Trump as a businessman for three decades, the author speaks with gravitas and a level of authority that frankly should scare the sh*t out of every American.

I recommend it.

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Fiddler On The Roof Character Review: Perchik

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the musical Fiddler On The Roof. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie or any of the stage adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Fiddler On The Roof to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Revolutions are usually not started by the elder generation who are sometimes content to rest on their laurels and let life go on. Revolutions are usually started by young people who are idealistic, angry and willing to use their voice to fight against what they feel is an injustice. These young people are also the ones who are trying to shake the dust of off their elders and show them that the world is changing.

In Fiddler On The Roof, the idea of revolution is represented by the character of Perchik. Perchik is a young man who has come to Anatevka to shake the denizens out of their doldrums. Idealistic, modern and outspoken, Perchik does not exactly get along with his new neighbors, but Tevye is willing to give Perchik a chance. Perchik starts tutoring Tevye’s youngest daughters and starts on a Beatrice and Benedick relationship with Hodel, Tevye’s second eldest daughter.

Eventually Perchik gets up the courage to propose to Hodel, even though is not the most conventional of proposals. But before they can wed, Perchik is caught up in trouble and is sent to Siberia.

To sum it up: one way to see change in a character or a narrative is to introduce the idea of revolution, whether it is social, cultural or financial. The writers wisely used Perchik to represent the wider revolution that would engulf the world in Fiddler On The Roof as a whole. For a writer, it is more about how he or she uses change rather than just the act of the change itself. The change will happen, it is just a matter of how the writer enacts the change that affects the outcome of the whole story, not just the character who represents the change.

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Thoughts On The 50th Anniversary Of The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

50 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated as he stood on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee.

He was not the first person to lead the Civil Rights movement, but he was one of the most iconic and most vocal in the fight for equality.

While he was an imperfect human being, he was a perfect leader. He spoke to everyone who saw the injustice being done to the African-American community and were willing to take a public stand against that injustice.

His “I have a dream speech” is as resonant in 2018 as it was in 1963.

Decades later, we remember and respect Dr. King for everything that he did and still does for those who feel disenfranchised. His physical body maybe gone, but his words and his legacy continue to live on.

May his memory continue to be a blessing and may we one day live up to the ideals that he fought and died for.

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Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television Book Review

Art has one of two roles when it comes to reflecting the reality of the world we live in: it either reflects an ideal world which more often than not, is impossible to reach. Or, it reflects the reality of the normal person going about their business.

It should be no surprise that for most of history, men have controlled everything, including art. But in the world of television, change is finally coming.

In the new book, Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television, by Joy Press, the author examines how a handful of female show runners, directors and producers are starting to change how women in television are viewed, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

She starts off the book with nods to the unappreciated female OG’s of television (Gertrude Berg and Lucille Ball) and then moves forward to acknowledge the groundbreaking 1990’s shows Murphy Brown (led by Diane English) and Roseanne (Roseanne Barr). She then talks about how modern female show runners and producers are changing the portrayal of women on television. The list of women profiled in the book includes uber successful producer Shonda Rimes and actress/comedian Amy Schumer.

I really loved this book. Not only is it well written, but it speaks to the woman who is looking for the courage to follow her own path, even if it means diverging from the tried and true. I also appreciated the shout out to Gertrude Berg whose name is unknown to most modern television audiences (unless, that is, you are above a certain age), but with her trail blazing path, the television industry would not be what it is today.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Television

Fiddler On The Roof Character Review: Hodel

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the musical Fiddler On The Roof. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie or any of the stage adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Fiddler On The Roof to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is only one certainty in life: change. In Fiddler On The Roof, Hodel is the second of Tevye and Golde’s five daughters. In the beginning of the story, Hodel states her choice of her future husband: the Rabbi’s son. Her elder sister, Tzeitel is quick to burst her bubble. Their father is a dairyman.  Daughters of dairymen do not marry Rabbi’s sons. Being the smart ass that she, Hodel laughs it off.

Then Perchik enters the picture. Perchik is a young man traveling through Anatevka who has ideas that do not mesh well with the locals. While tutoring Hodel’s younger sisters, it becomes clear that there is chemistry between her and Perchik. But when the time comes, Hodel will have to make a decision: stay with her family or follow Perchik into the unknown.

To sum it up: In choosing to join Perchik in Siberia instead of staying in Anatevka, Hodel is willing to accept change. Even if it means that she may never see her family again. Change often comes whether we like it or not. As writers, when we create a character who is faced with change, how the character deals with the change is a mark of their character. It’s up to the writer to determine if the character will accept the change or fight it.

 

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