There’s no business like Shoah business

I’ve been reading Alisa Solomon’s Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m hoping to blog about it when I’m done, but for now, I wanted to tell this little story from the book.

In 1966, Anne Marisse, who was playing Tzeitel in Fiddler, was fired after she missed a performance on Rosh Hashanah without, the producers said, giving advance notice. Marisse’s firing proved controversial in the Jewish community. For two reasons: first, because Fiddler was a show about preserving Jewish traditions in the face of the secular (and other) demands of modernity; and second, because Sandy Koufax had refused the previous year to play in the World Series on Yom Kippur. One particularly irate man in the Bronx wrote to the producers: “Your ‘show must go on’ regardless…Six million of our people also had a ‘show’ of their own when they marched into gas chambers.”


  1. J. Otto Pohl March 5, 2014 at 11:36 am | #

    For an interesting literary use of Fiddler on the Roof in a work of historical non-fiction see Yuri Slezkine’s The Jewish Century.

  2. BillR March 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm | #

    A good survey of ‘the history of the manipulation of the Holocaust’ is Idith Zertal’s The Nation and Deathwhich was reviewed by Ilan Pappe, the ending of which is chilling:

    [U]nfortunately for the Palestinians, so long as the state’s policy toward them is less than genocidal, anything else is morally justifiable. The repertoire, short of Nazi extermination, has since then become quite clear…

  3. David Wolf March 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm | #

    Reblogged this on Hebrew Hutong and commented:
    Funny how Sandy Koufax was lionized for missing the World Series for Yom Kippur, but poor little Anne Marisse was fired from the stage production of Fiddler on the Roof (in 1966) for missing a performance due to Rosh Hashanah.

  4. BrianO March 17, 2014 at 6:02 am | #

    I don’t want to bring the tone down but that sounds like the sort of thing that ‘The Dersh’ or Abe Foxman would put in a letter.

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