After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine. Mitchell G. Bard. CreateSpace. 2013. 380 pp.
After Anatevka follows Sholom Aleichem’s timeless character, Tevye the milkman, as he moves his family from Russia to Palestine. Tevye, the wisecracking, Bible-quoting man of God, tells the story of his family’s new life against the backdrop of the conflict between Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land prior to the establishment of the State of Israel.
In After Anatevka, Tevye decides to take his wife and three youngest daughters (the three eldest remain in Russia with their husbands) to live on a kibbutz where he must adjust to a secular lifestyle and struggle with the tension between the kibbutzniks’ “religion” of labor and his Jewish beliefs.
While Tevye is uncomfortable with the lack of religiosity on the kibbutz, he is gratified to be the one who can teach the laws and traditions of Judaism to the members. As the most learned man on the secular kibbutz, Tevye takes on his long desired role to be the authority on Jewish law who is sought out for answers to difficult questions of law and religion.
The clash between tradition and life in Palestine manifests itself, however, in Tevye’s relationship with his daughters, who become assimilated in the kibbutz culture. For example, Tevye is thrilled to learn that one daughter wants to marry the son of a wealthy Jew from the city, but is dismayed when he discovers the young man is a socialist who is estranged from his family.
A second daughter, Devorah, works in the kibbutz infirmary and falls in love with an injured fighter from the Jewish underground. When the injured fighter is arrested, Devorah goes to take his place. To Tevye's chagrin, she eschews a traditional female role and becomes a soldier who eventually assists with the illegal immigration of Jews to Palestine. Through her efforts to save Jews, Tevye learns the full horror of the Holocaust.
For Tevye's wife, Golde, the most important thing in life is keeping her family together. After Golde unexpectedly gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, Tevye finally has a son. Meanwhile, Golde secretly stays in touch with her daughters Hodel and Tzeitel in Russia and Chava, who married out of the faith and moves to the United States. Tevye has disowned Chava and, despite Golde's pleas, refuses to utter her name. Despite the time and distance apart, Golde dreams that the family will someday be reunited.
After Anatevka is set against the backdrop of the Zionist conflict with the Arabs. Tevye develops a relationship with a Bedouin sheikh, who explains why the Arab claim to Palestine is as valid as that of the Jews, which convinces Tevye war is inevitable. Before fighting for survival in Palestine, however, the Zionists must first win the political battle at the United Nations where a vote will be held to determine whether Palestine should be divided into a Jewish and an Arab state.
Millions of people around the world are familiar with the stories of Sholom Aleichem from the movie and play, Fiddler on the Roof, which was an amalgamation of stories about Tevye and his family. The author wrote other stories involving Tevye, however, which were not in Fiddler. After Anatevka is inspired by one of those stories, “Tevye Goes To Palestine.”
Bard is the Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and director of the Jewish Virtual Library. He is the author of numerous books, including "The Complete Idiot's Guide to World War II."
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