Topol and Tradition

Topol was Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof when Jackie Scott took a bunch of gifted Mexican border kids to NYC in 1990.

At the time I couldn’t draw parallels, but I can now. We weren’t oppressed Mexican minority kids living in some white majority culture. We *were* the hyper majority in our hometown. Like Jews on a shtetl. And we had our own Cossacks: Border Patrol. And like the members of Tevye’s family, to his chagrin, we all had to leave our home in order to find anything resembling peace or fulfillment.

Tradition, the thing that held Nogales together, was not strong enough to fight Walmart, Marcelino Varona, and border scapegoatism. It is a very particular forlornness to be a smart, agile, sensitive type growing up in a place with no future for you, knowing from a young age that you will have to leave and put it all behind you. You try not to get too attached. And so became the mass exodus of our little town. We who left, never to return, have only nostalgia of a time long since passed.

And as for Topol, when he replaced Zero Mostel as Tevye, someone said that he brought Israeli sex appeal to the role. This wasn’t a Tevye who would take things lying down. He had conviction. He was a man, a good man. True? True.

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