Letters the Week of August 8, 2013


Readers criticize the scheduling for performances of Fiddler on the Roof as well as the meaning of the word eternal when it comes to Jerusalem.

Tevye Would Have Faulted Theater’s Schedule

When I first saw your article about the Summerstage performance of Fiddler on the Roof (Lifestyle & Culture: “Anatevka Comes to Upper Darby,” Aug. 1), I was very excited. However, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I saw that every single one of the five performances conflicted with Shabbat.

I understand that,in general, we have no right to expect theaters to accommodate the religious practices of any specific group. However, in this case, the piece is about that particular group, so it would only seem reasonable that there be at least one performance on a Sunday — or on any other day other than Friday evening or Saturday. Keep in mind that Tevye very likely would have objected to any performances on Shabbat!

With these thoughts in mind, I emailed Summerstage and received a detailed response from Harry Dietzler, the executive and artistic director of the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center. He said the theater was aware of the problem but didn’t have a solution because of the other productions they perform and therefore they are limited to Friday and Saturday for their MainStage.

He went on to say: “I  am very sorry that we cannot offer a performance that you can attend. We are very proud of our production and its authenticity to Jewish traditions so I am especially sad that we could not make the schedule work for the very people who are honored by the show. Please accept my apology.”

While this is certainly a considerate response, I do wish they had kept the scheduling issue in mind when they chose Fiddler and either worked their other performances around it — or if that were not possible, then chosen a different musical.

Beth Ben-Avraham | Merion Station

Just How ‘Eternal’ Is ‘Eternal?’

The claim was made on the Exponent’s letters page (“Outrage Should Greet ‘Jerusalem’ Ruling,” Aug. 1) that “Logically, historically and religiously, Jerusalem and Israel are eternally linked.”

Eternally? As in forever, all the time, from time immemorial? Categorically not true.

Jerusalem is known as the “City of David” for good reason: It was not the city of Abraham (Hebron was), nor Isaac, nor Jacob, nor Moses, nor Aaron, nor Miriam, nor the Judges (male and female), nor Samuel, nor even of Saul, the anointed first king of Israel. It was not part of the Promised Land — i.e., was not contained in the original allotment meted out to the tribes in the conquest of Canaan.

Precisely because it was, therefore, neutral territory, David captured it and made it his capital, as an act of political — not religious — acumen driven by strategic and tactical necessity.

Indeed, the word “Jerusalem” never appears in the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses), and it is the Pentateuch that serves as the only valid scriptural source for Jewish law (halachah).

This is not to say that Jerusalem is not important; just that it is not the be-all and end-all, and that its significance lies in a happenstance of history and politics, and not beyond them. Therefore, it is time to dispose of exaggerated and false claims routinely — yeah, shamefully — made on its behalf.

Stanleigh Cohen | Baltimore, Md.



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