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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Traditional Ukranian intrument

At the conference plenum, we enjoyed the sounds of a large ensemble band, wearing traditional Ukrainian clothing, as they played a mix of traditional and Jewish music. The is a picture of the Bandura player -  Ukraine's national instrument. When they played "If I were a rich man" from Fiddler on the Roof, it all came together. The musical Fiddler on the Roof, based on Sholem Aleichem's stories about Tevye the Dairyman, was the first commercially successful English-language stage production about Jewish life in Eastern Europe.  Sholem Aleichem (1859 - 1916) was a leading Yiddish author and playwright from Ukraine and the Tevye tales still reflect a lot about the ambivalence and duality of Jewish/Ukrainian life. The Fiddler song that really came to my mind that evening was "Lechaim - To Life!" in the great bar scene where the Jews and gentiles dance together:

"Za Vashe Zdorovie - Heaven bless you both Na Zdrovie - To your health and may we live together in peace!"

About the Author: Yishai Fleisher is the Contributing Editor and PR manager at the JewishPress.com, and Israel's only English language broadcast radio show host (Galey Yisrael 106.5FM). Yishai is an Israeli Paratrooper, a graduate of Cardozo Law School, and the founder of Kumah ("Arise" in Hebrew), an NGO dedicated to promoting Zionism and strengthening Israel's national character. Yishai is married to Malkah, they have two children, and they live on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


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