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The Classic Yiddish Film "Tevye" to be Screened at the University

Posted 11/30/2010
Posted by David Isgur

The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford will continue its 25th anniversary celebration with its annual Yiddish film screening - this year's film will be Tevye, the 1939 Yiddish film classic based on Sholem Alecheim's beloved stories, Tevye the Dairyman. The screening will include remarks and a discussion led by Avinoam Patt, the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History, on "70 Years of Tevye on Film," comparing Sholem Aleichem's original stories with the 1939 Yiddish classic and the 1970 version starring Chaim Topol as Tevye.

The program, which will take place in Wilde Auditorium at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12, is free and open to the public.It is sponsored by the Waltman Family Fund in honor of the 100th birthday of the late David Waltman. The screening will take place in Wilde Auditorium in the Harry Jack Gray Center, University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford..

The 1939 film adaptation of Tevye stars Maurice Schwartz as Tevye and was adapted by Marcy Klauber and Schwartz from the Sholem Aleichem play based on his own book. Schwartz also directed the film. The production is entirely in Yiddish. The film was the first Non-English language film to have been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The 1939 Yiddish film version centers on Khave, Tevye the Dairyman's daughter, who falls in love with Fedye, the son of a Ukrainian peasant. Her relationship with the Ukrainian peasant pits Tevye's love for his daughter against his unbending connection to Judaism and loyalty to tradition. The clash between tradition and modernity, parental authority and love, customs and enlightenment are foreshadowed by the anti-semitism of the rural community. The film captures the tensions of Jewish life in Russia at the turn of the 20th century and does so as one of the last Yiddish films to be produced before the outbreak of the Second World War.

As Judy Stone of the San Francisco Chronicle described the Yiddish version, "With all due respect to Zero Mostel and Topol in Fiddler on the Roof, it was Maurice Schwartz, the great Yiddish actor/director, who first showed Tevye the Dairyman in his full light as a mensch for all seasons. [The film is] a rare opportunity to see Schwartz in what may have been his most magnificent role."

For further information on the exciting programming planned for the Greenberg Center's 25th anniversary year, please visit our web site or call 860.768.4964 or write