April 19, 2024
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April 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Brilliance of the Fiddler

This month, Fiddler on the Roof celebrates its 50th year on stage. I re­member seeing it back in the early 1970s at the Westbury Music Fair, star­ring Zero Mostel as Tevye.

I cried that night after the show. I cried at the singing of “Anitevka,” thinking of my own family in the Holocaust a mere 28 years before, being evicted from their homes and being sep­arated from their loving families. I cried at the dream scene, wondering if I would ever get to meet my grandparents, all killed in Auschwitz. I cried hearing the song “Sunrise, Sunset,” be­cause, well, it was just an amazingly beautiful song. I was only 8. What could I possibly know about sunrises and sunsets?

The Fiddler on the Roof was a wise man, telling a story and moving you to tears with a mere musical instrument.

In a few days, more than a mere musical in­strument will undoubtedly move me to tears. You see, my bechor, my oldest son Jason, will be getting married, to a beautiful young wom­an named Rebecca.

Is this the little girl I carried?

Is this the little boy at play?

I don’t remember growing older, when did they?

I was so thrilled that my first-born was a boy. Visions of lots of sports, rooting for the Mets and Jets, whiffle ball games, tefillin and a Bar-Mitzvah came bursting into my mind, and Baruch Hashem, they all came through. Not only was he healthy and smart, thank God, but Jason grew up to be a wonderful young man with Middot—values that both his Mom and I worked hard to impart to him, aided terrifically by Moriah, TABC and Mevaseret in Israel. The little boy at play has always been a great source of pride to his par­ents.

Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly flow the days

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers

Blossoming even as we gaze

What can possibly grow in front of your eyes as you watch it, blossoming as we gaze, other than a child? You blink, you lose. You spend too many hours at work, you lose. You watch too much sports or TV, you lose. The days flow into weeks into months into years, until you find yourself days away from the chuppah, dream­ing of the dream walk down the aisle, hopeful­ly cherishing every moment. Dear God, please, let me cherish every moment. Not just of Jason and Rebecca’s wedding, but of their marriage, of their Bayit Ne’eman B’Yisrael—a warm, trust­ing and loving home with happiness and chil­dren of their own.

What words of wisdom can I give them?

How can I help to ease their way?

Now they must learn from one another

Day by day

The Fiddler is a wise man indeed, for who am I to offer him answers? Who is anyone to tell him what is best for them? Jason’s Mom and I can only offer advice and life lessons, nudging him ever so slightly to be the best husband and please God, father, he can possibly be. The best man. His OWN best man he can possibly be to Rebecca. Those of you reading this who have married off one or several children may be smiling, even smirking at my words, for I really know not of what I speak or write. I am telling you only what is in my heart and head, for that is all I have to work with right now. Just as I have done from the day of his birth, I too learn on the fly. I seek the advice of others, I evaluate, I hope, and I pray, I play Daddy, but at the end of the day its all about what he has absorbed and what values he has come to value, isn’t it? And now that his life partner has entered his world, both he and Rebecca will somehow figure it all out together, basing their steps on their young experiences. Step by step, day by day. Perspective.

Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly fly the years

One season following another

Laden with happiness and tears

It really was only yesterday when I rocked him to sleep. When I took night feedings in the chair at 3am, when I drove him to play dates, when we went to our first baseball game, when I drove him to school, when I watched his Siddur Play, when he suffered his first death in the family, when he earned his first honor roll, when he broke his first bone, when he learned his first Gemara. When he boarded the plane to Israel for the year- oh my, a whole year! (and a half). Laden with lots of happiness, and yes, many tears.

In ten days Jason will be married to Re­becca Fein of Teaneck. A girl with a beauti­ful smile and an even more beautiful soul.

Dear God, smile on them and shine your face upon them. And if there truly is a Fiddler on the Roof, please make sure he plays them lots of beautiful music.

By Robert Katz

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