There is great value in tradition. In my opinion, it is society’s deviation from tradition at an extremely rapid pace that has led to much of the dissatisfaction and unhappiness experienced by today’s youth. Traditions are built up over many years. Traditions originate from the wisdom of elders and their vast experience. They are passed down from generation to generation. Many times, traditions are passed along to the next generation, but the purpose of the tradition is lost. Let me give an example.
In the 1964 musical, Fiddler on the Roof, the story begins with the lead character, Reb Tevye, talking, or should I say singing, about tradition. He explains the roles of the various social classes in their village. Anatevka is the name of the village. He explains the roles of mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. Other roles, traditional roles, that he describes are the matchmaker, the beggar and the rabbi. Others mentioned in the song are the constable, the priest, and other non-Jews that are around but with whom they rarely interact. The overall theme of the song describes the villagers trying to continue with their long-held traditions, and keeping their society running, as the world around them changes. The geographical setting is imperialist Russia during the pogroms from 1903 to 1906.
Let me talk a little bit about pogroms in case you are not familiar with that term or what it represents. The word pogrom is defined as an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jews in Russia or Eastern Europe. The Anti-Jewish Pogroms in the Russian Empire first began in the 19th century. Prior to that time. The Russian Empire had very few Jews. During the period from 1791 to 1835 Russia acquired the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. These territories were referred to as the pale of settlement by the Imperial Russian government. Jews were permitted to live within this area, and it was within them that the pogroms largely took place. Jews were forbidden from moving to other parts of the empire unless they converted to the Russian orthodox state religion. There is a long and complex history of the Russian Orthodox Church. I won’t go into that now, but suffice it to say, it is Christian-based.
The first pogrom was said to be in 1821 in Odessa. Though some sources refer to the 1859 riots in Odessa. Then there was the period from 1881 to 1884. That was when the word pogrom became widely used and more than 200 anti-Jewish events occurred in the Russian Empire. I already mentioned the pogroms from 1903 to 1906. These are the bloodiest. 2 million Jews fled the Russian Empire between 1880 and 1914. Many of them came to United States. Many others went to the United Kingdom.
The story of The Fiddler on the Roof gives a little bit of insight into the traditional lives of the Jewish people in Russia in 1905. Spoiler alert. The original movie is 60 years old. At the end of the movie everyone in Reb Tevye’s village has to leave.
- Fiddler on the Roof
- Fiddler on the Roof
- Anti-Jewish Pogroms in the Russian Empire
- Russian Orthodox Church
- Chinese Folk Religion
- Stefan Molyneux and Jesse Lee Peterson
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