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By Isaac Mozeson


On A Roof, Fiddling

Jan28

We interrupt these Edenic posts to present a poem from the Collected Poems of I.M, (Amazon/Kindle.)

I had just seen the Fiddler On A Roof DVD with a convert to Judaism, and had to explain how this greatest cultural product of American Jews is, typically, anti-Jewish.
 'Tradition' is held up as an object of nostalgia, something to leave behind, as the liberated Jew embraces free love and the religion-free paradise of Communism. Anatevka is Chelm; the rabbi is merely the chief of Village Idiots. 
I stopped my precarious fiddling with Western culture by the mid-80s.
The poem breaks into Fiddler lyrics, in italics.

 

ON A ROOF, FIDDLING 

 

In Memory of Zero Mostel and the Zero Generations of Jews

Lost in the Great American Holocaust  -- 1983, Isaac Elchanan Mozeson

 

Zero, you were nothing

if not Tevya the milechicah

come to America

from intimate, obstinate Anatevka.

 

Intimate New York isn't.

you were one of the six million

selected for public school education

(after a bit of boxcar, box-ear cheder).

 

And you want to hear from obstinate?

Even in your Seward Park High School

here on Grand Street those German

Jewish schoolteachers would wash out

your mouth with soap if they caught

you speaking that filthy Yiddish.

 

So, nu, the whole thing left

a bad taste in your mouth

and American dreams in your head.

All day long you biddy biddy bummed.

(And all week long. There’s no shabbos in America)

So what can we do? ... It’s a new world.

A little bit of this… a little bit of that...

and you became a wealthy man.

Your big heart and great frame

sang out a kosher style

tradition, tradition

unsung in the beis medrash_

not by a stage jew

who waxed fat and kicked,

who married a Radio

city Music Hall rockette

with chorus line legs

that kick a foreign tradition.

 

The momma and poppa Mostels

didn't attend the wedding.

They tore their clothes,

sat shiva and mourned you.

They hoped you'd die right

before a Jewish holiday

so they wouldn't have to

mourn you twice.

 

It takes a wedding to say,

'Let's live another day,

l'chaim,l'chaim . . . to life' …­

liberty and the pursuit of the strangers' ways.

 

The Jewish artist is

on a roof, fiddling

ancient melodies with new instruments

on the high sharp angle of two cultures.

The balance is easily lost;

a shower of shingles buries the backslider.

He is the fiddler and the match-­

maker; playing

with matches

an artist can get burnt.

 

Who could imagine you'd be wandering so

far from the home you love?

 

Zero, your countdown ended

right after Groucho

and just before the New Jewish

Year and Day of Atonement.

Tevya the milk deliverer was over;

you kicked the bucket

rehearsing a new Shylock role.

 

May the Lord forgive and defend you,

may he always shield you from shame;

may you come to be

in Yisrael a shining name.

 

Like all great clowns

you were larger than life,

and like all starved Jews

swollen with shtetle starch

you spread your cells out so thin

that your heart lost touch with your blood. Sunset...

 

sunrise_ we'll wait for the messiah east of here.

Someone should have put a match

to this place years ago. Zero,

do you love him? Yes, I suppose I do. But

without our traditions, our songs would be flatter

than a fiddler fallen from the roof.

------------

Ok, you have to see 'Fiddler' to appreciate this.
Anyway, I'll get to the promised Hindi-Edenic list after I finish proofing the final draft of The Origin of Speeches Edition II.

Archived posts, Edenics searches + web games: http://www.edenics.net/  
Edenics DVDs and most recent book: THE ORIGIN OF SPEECHES. Edenic (Biblical Hebrew) as the original, pre-Babel human language program see our many resources at http://www.edenics.org/ incl. videos in English, Spn., Fr. or Ger.
youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glWG3coAtEg&feature=related

Archived posts, Edenics searches + web games: http://www.edenics.net/  
Edenics DVDs and most recent book: THE ORIGIN OF SPEECHES. Edenic (Biblical Hebrew) as the original, pre-Babel human language program see our many resources at http://www.edenics.org/ incl. videos in English, Spn., Fr. or Ger.
youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glWG3coAtEg&feature=related




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