“Sholem Aleichem’s Women”
Close your eyes and I’ll bet you can summon Zero Mostel’s voice—Zero Mostel’s voice as we can all still hear it on Fiddler’s Original Cast Album—an album originally recorded on an LP (a long-playing record) way back in 1964, and still echoing at the edge of Jewish-American consciousness.
Now I’ve been working on a book about Fiddler since 2002, with plans to publish it in September 2014 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Fiddler’s Opening Night on Broadway. So in the last decade I’ve seen over two dozen performances of Fiddler, read numerous books and articles related to Fiddler, and given lectures on Fiddler all around Metro Chicago.
And yet, even having heard these four words (“I have 5 daughters!”) at least a hundred times in past five years alone, never once did I think to ask myself: “Mmmm, I wonder if Solomon Rabinowitz had any daughters?”
Updating this presentation for today, I just looked in Wikipedia again and a little bit more information is now available (updated as of 2/19/12). But even though Marie Waife-Goldberg’s book My Father, Sholom Aleichem is listed in the ‘Further Reading’ section, there’s nothing about her and certainly no link to a Wikipedia page for her. However, with Marie Waife-Goldberg to guide me, I can tell you a fairly coherent story about the Rabinowitz family…”
Context: Presentation at Limmud Chicago’s the third annual Day of Jewish Learning (2/19/12). All photo credits copyright Limmud Chicago. Click HERE for an updated version of this presentation given at KAM Isaiah Israel in Hyde Park on 3/11/12.