web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Three: A New Kind of Jew


Tevye.500

Share Button

Tevye was breathless. His own journey to Israel had been no simple hike, but Elisha’s tale was astounding. Once again, the Yemenite filled up their glasses and took up his adventure, spinning his tale with the deftness of Tevye’s acquaintance, the famous writer, Sholom Aleichem. Continuing in the morning, the boat reached Aden by noon, but the Moslems refused to let them disembark. When night came, Elisha’s eldest son, Ariel, snuck down the ladder and swam into shore. In the morning, he made his way to the market and found a rich Jew who was able to arrange permission for the Yemenites to land. On the dock, they were detained by police and herded into an empty warehouse. After waiting two weeks, they boarded a French boat which was loaded with lumber and heading for Eretz Yisrael. Nine days later, they finally reached Jaffa. Their prayers and dreams had come true. Falling on their hands and their knees, they kissed the holy soil.

But that was only the beginning of their journey, Elisha said with a smile. He poured Tevye another drink of the aromatic liquor. In Jaffa, the Yemenite said, it had been impossible to find decent work. Unlike the success stories which they had heard, the Jews immigrating from Yemen were paid the lowest wages. If that wasn’t humiliating enough, Yemenites, who managed to find work in the fields, were terrorized by Arab laborers who felt threatened by the meager pay the “black” Jews received. The Yemenites could all recite the Torah by heart, but their spoken Hebrew was basic, preventing them from working in their trades. Furthermore, the Ashkenazic pronunciation which dominated the new Jewish pioneer communities didn’t sound to them like Hebrew at all. To survive, Elisha found himself learning Yiddish from his boss at the Rothschild warehouse where he worked at “sabalut,” lugging barrels of wine to the port. Elisha insisted that he wasn’t complaining. He was merely relating the conditions which his family had met upon reaching the Promised Land. Abraham, he said, had journeyed to the Land of Israel when there were no Jews at all in the country. A famine awaited him instead. Even though God had promised that the country would be an eternal gift to him and his children, he had to beg the people of Hebron to sell him a burial site for his wife. The wells which he and his son Isaac had dug were filled in again and again by the Philistines. The trials of the Patriarchs had been endless, he said, so who was he to complain?

After several glasses of the powerful liquor, Tevye had come to love the happy little Jew who lived in a chicken coop of a house. But not complain? That was asking too much of a man. After all, complaining was a part of being Jewish. How could a Jew not complain? How else, in his miserable existence, was he to find any pleasure? Other luxuries cost money, while complaining was free. Not that Tevye ever doubted the goodness of the Master of the World, chas v’sholem. To Tevye, complaining was no worse than snoring. But he let Elisha finish telling his story and conquered his urge to debate.

It was Baron Rothschild who had tried to integrate the poor immigrants from Yemen into the settlement colonies. They proved to be excellent workers, far surpassing the Russians. Exceedingly humble, and accustomed to the Mediterranean heat, the Yemenites were willing to do all of the menial work which the Ashkenazic Jews disdained. Rather than hiring Arab workers, the Baron felt that he could bolster the cause of Jewish labor by employing the lower paid Yemenites. But a caste system developed, and when the Yemenite Jews at Zichron were segregated into their own tent village on the outskirts of the moshav, Elisha decided to volunteer to become a founding member of Morasha. There, he believed, a fairer, more utopian community could be established with equal rights for every Jew, no matter the shade of his skin.

Elisha smiled, concluding his saga. The bottle of Arak stood empty on the table.

“Carmel,” he called.

The curtain behind him rustled and one of his pretty, golden-skinned daughters appeared. She kept her eyes lowered modestly toward the ground as Elisha held out his hand, motioning her to come forward. Barefooted, she stepped gracefully next to her father and let him embrace her around her waist.

Share Button

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." For the past several years, he has written a popular and controversial blog at Arutz 7. A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Three: A New Kind of Jew”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hamas terrorists prepare their version of peace.
Terrorists Greet Hamas-Fatah Unity with Rocket Attacks on Israel
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from Tzvi Fishman
    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/the-book-shelf/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/chapter-twenty-three-a-new-kind-of-jew/2013/01/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: