You are on page 1of 43

TRADITION

A play about Jewish Identity in the XXI Century

By

Moises Salinas

and

Benjamin Levy-Israel

© Moises Salinas and Benjamin Levy, 2010

CHARACTERS

SIMON LEVY

Middle aged Jewish entrepreneur

SARAH LEVY

Simon’s wife

ROSE REBECCA LEVY

College age daughter of Simon and Sarah. A Jewish princess

ERIC LEVY

Teenage son of Simon and Sarah. Freshman in College

DAVID LEVY

Youngest son of Simon and Sarah. High school student

TEVYE THE MILKMAN

A pious Jewish milkman in Tsarist Russia with a knack to play the violin on rooftops.

JACOB SCHWARTZ

Personal assistant to Simon Levy

GREENBERG

A Jewish fundraiser

AGENT McCOY

Bureaucrat who works for the attorney general

MARY LOUIS

Secretary for Simon Levy

4 EXECUTIVES

MAID

Elderly Latin looking woman

NEPHEW

COUSIN

NANCY

Sarah’s best friend

ACT I

I-1

(Living room in a middle upper class house. A sofa, a fireplace, a computer, a fax machine, and a telephone can be seen in the back. Simon is sitting in the sofa reading a book that looks like a Jewish religious book. He looks confused.)

SIMON

The hell with tradition!

(Simon, exasperated, throws the book on the sofa. He freezes as the lights dim. Enters Tevye)

TEVYE

This is the story of Simon Levy. A typical American Jew of the year 2000 and something. Have you noticed how we always say, “Mexican American, “ African American, ”Asian American.” The ethnicity is the adjective. But not Jews. It’s American Jews. Isn’t that funny… Me, I’m Tevye, the milkman. I’m a typical Jew of… of the age of tradition.

(Tevye picks up the book from the sofa, looks at it. Shakes his head. Returns the book to the sofa, and exits the scene. Lights back to normal)

SIMON

Why do I have to bother about all this stuff if I didn’t choose to be Jewish?

(Sarah walks into the living room)

SARAH

Hello honey! How are the preparations going for the Seider?

SIMON

What do you want from me now? Isn’t enough that you are making me do all of this kosher stuff for your “Seider?” Why can we just do what we always do and watch “The Prince of Egypt” or something and order from Katz’s?

SARAH

I-2

But Honeeeeey, you know that we invited the Liebermans, and they are Orthodox, we have to do everything by the book. They are very important people. And by the way, I don’t have anything to wear.

SIMON

Sarah, Sarah, OK, here, use my Visa. Go to the mall and get yourself something that will make you happy.

The Visa?

SARAH

This one has a very low limit.

(Flirty)

How about the Gold Card?

(Enters Rose, and interrupts their parents mid conversation)

Hi Daddy!

ROSE

(Approaches Simon and gives him a sweet kiss)

SIMON

Hi princess. How are you?

SARAH

(Upset) Honey, don’t you say hi anymore to your mother?

ROSE

Oh, yeah. What’s up, mom? Daddy! Guess what, I’m going out with my Jeffrey tonight and…

SARAH

Jeffrey? Is that the one majoring in philosophy? You know I don’t like that guy.

ROSE

I-3

Mom! Stop it. No, that was Jonathan. And you never even met him. And he was studying to become a Rabbi.

SARAH

My point exactly. How much does a Rabbi make? $60,000? $70,000? I’ve always said that that it’s not a good profession for a Jewish boy.

ROSE

Well, that’s besides the point. Jeffrey is in Medical school

SARAH

Oh, that’s much better. A Jewish profession!

SIMON

Sarah! Let the girl speak for god’s sake.

ROSE

Thank you Daddy! Anyway, I wanted to see if you could let me buy a new perfume because the one you brought me from Paris is almost out…

SIMON

Sure honey. How much do you need?

(Sarah looks upset)

ROSE

Well, altogether it shouldn’t be more than….

(In the background, sound of tires squealing, engine turned off, car stereo with loud music. Enters Eric wearing a Sweatshirt with a trendy brand logo)

ERIC

Whas up old man? Hey Mom. How’s everything?

SARAH

(Hugging Eric)

I-4

Oyy Honey, we have a crisis! The Liebermans are coming for Passover, your dad doesn’t want to make everything kosher, and I don’t have anything to wear!

ROSE

(Surprised and upset)

What are you doing with that Sweatshirt! That is mine you little creep!

ERIC

What do you mean what am I doing? Obviously, I’m wearing it, you dim whit. Can’t you see?

ROSE

I’ve been looking for it! Take it off immediately!

ERIC

Yeah right! And what do you want me to do? Stay in the nuddy?

SIMON

Enough! Rose, here take the Gold Card and buy yourself a new sweatshirt.

And my perfume?

ROSE

ERIC

Hey hey hey, one sec here. Daddy, I need a loan too.

SIMON

What for? How much

ERIC

It’s for the car. Just about $3000

What!

SIMON

ERIC

Yeah Dad.

improved Xenon blue headlights for my SUV.

It’s for safety.

I want to put these new

SIMON

I-5

But you had new headlights a couple of months ago

ERIC

No Dad. Those were Underhood lights.

And these?

SIMON

ERIC

These are for the top.

You know, for the mount bar…

(Makes smooth sign to show location of

lights)

SIMON

Still, $3000 is too much money for lights

ERIC

Well… I also need the mount bar

(computer makes “You’ve got mail” sound)

What was that?

ROSE

SIMON

Well, Miss Modern. Don’t tell me you don’t know what E- mail is.

ROSE

Not the E-mail, Dad.

century, Oh my god! See, now we use Texting

The sound.

That’s like, so 20 th

I-6

(pulls out Cell phone and starts typing. Simon moves to check his E-mail)

SIMON

Excellent news! We got the Warberg contract!

SARAH

Great Honey! So what about my dress?

And my perfume?

And my lights?

ROSE

ERIC

(Enters COUSIN hurriedly. Meanwhile Sarah, Rose and Eric keep pestering Simon quietly)

COUSIN

Simon, my favorite cousin! Please, help me! loan! I have an emergency…

I need a

(Cousin continues with indistinct chatter) (Enters MAID. Meanwhile Sarah, Rose, Eric and Cousin keep festering Simon quietly)

MAID

Mr. Levy, I need money to buy the groceries for the Seider…

(Maid continues with indistinct chatter)

Stooop!!!!

SIMON

(chatter stops)

What is going on here. Nobody wants anything but money?

ALL ACTORS IN SCENE

Yes!!

SIMON

OK, cousin, here, have a check.

(Simon writes a check)

COUSIN

I-7

Thank you Cous. That’s why you were always grandma’s favorite! I love you!

(Cousin approaches Simon and gives surprise kiss)

SIMON

Woooh, enough with the love.

(Cousin exits scene)

OK, Maria, here, have money for the groceries.

(Hands out Cash to Maid)

MAID

Thank you Mr. Levy. I still don’t know why you were your grandma’s favorite, but…

(Maid approaches Simon to give hug)

SIMON

Hold it! No kisses.

(Maid exits scene mildly disappointed)

OK, Eric. Here, one thousand dollars for your lights. But not a penny more.

But dad!!

ERIC

No buts.

Fine…

SIMON

Take it or leave it.

ERIC

I-8

(Simon writes a new check. Eric leaves

the scene)

What, no kiss?

SIMON

ERIC

(from off stage)

You said no kisses!

SIMON

Ok, Rose Rebecca Levy. Take the gold card

The gold card!

SARAH

SIMON

The gold card. Go get your perfume.

SARAH

And your nice Jewish doctor.

ROSE

Medical student, Mom! Thank you Daddy. I will give you kisses!

(Rose kisses Simon and grabs gold card. Exits scene)

SIMON

Sarah, here you can have the platinum…

SARAH

Oh Honey, I love you soooo much.

I-9

(Sarah kisses Simon and grabs platinum card. Exits scene)

(Simon, with a sad expression, looks at his empty wallet. Leaves his wallet on a coffee table. He turns his empty pockets inside out, looks in his jacket’s Pockets, and finds nothing. Then, had an idea. Looks under the sofa’s cushions and finds a quarter. With an expression of pride shows it to the public. Then, all of a sudden, a child enters scene in a skateboard and grabs the quarter from Simon’s hand)

CHILD

Thank you uncle Simon!

(child rides out of scene. Simon looks sad. David enters the scene)

Hi Dad!

DAVID

(David approaches Simon and gives him a hug)

SIMON

Wait, don’t tell me.

it is and I’ll write you a check.

I’m out of cash, but tell me what

 

DAVID

I don’t want money.

 

SIMON

No?

 

DAVID

No.

NO!!!

(Excited)

SIMON

I-10

(Victory music and Simon does victory dance. Music suddenly stops. Simon suspicious)

What do you want, then?

DAVID

Just wanted to talk to you.

high school and we should be done very soon.

You know I’m a senior in

SIMON

I know. And after the Summer you are going to Brandeis. I’m so proud. You know, Jewish Ivy League. And it’s only a couple of hours away….

DAVID

Well, you know, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.

SIMON

Don’t tell me you changed your mind! We already said no to Dartmouth.

(Looks scared)

Oh no, don’t tell me you are thinking about Central State! No, please son, not Central State. Anything but Central State!

(almost crying)

DAVID

Oh god, no Dad. You know I wouldn’t go anywhere that is not a top ranked place worldwide.

Thank God!

SIMON

So, tell me, my boy.

DAVID

I-11

What’s on your mind.

Well, how about Hebrew University.

SIMON

Is that in New York?

DAVID

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dad. You know.

SIMON

Hebrew University of Jerusalem?

DAVID

Hebrew University of Jerusalem?

SIMON

(concerned tone)

Hebrew University??

Of Jerusalem.

DAVID

SIMON

Have you considered Central perhaps? You know, just around the corner. Safe!

DAVID

Dad, you don’t know what your are talking about

Oh yes, I do.

SIMON

Jerusalem, you know

I-12

(Starts making military sounds and had gestures. Bombs, planes, machine guns)

DAVID

You know how many people were murdered last year in our own state dad? Over one hundred. Yes, Dad, one hundred killed.

(starts making gun and machine gun sounds and gestures)

And how many terrorism deaths in Israel?

SIMON

I’m sure at least double

DAVID

Thirteen! Seven civilians and six military dad. C’mon, I’m serious. I want to move to Israel.

(Simon suddenly smiles, pulls out the check book)

SIMON

Wait a minute… I get it, OK, so, how much you wanted?

Great story, son, I have to hand it to you.

going for a second there, but next time if you need money just ask me.

You got me

DAVID

No Dad, I’m serious. I really want to make Aliyah, to move to Israel.

SIMON

But I don’t get it? Why? You have everything you could possibly want here. You are going to a great college, have a nice Car, you have a nice girlfriend. What else do you need?

DAVID

I-13

It’s not that, Dad. I don’t need anything material. It’s just that…

What?

SIMON

DAVID

I am a Jew. Yes, an American Jew. But just like a blue car is first a car and then blue, I am a Jew. This is not my people, this is not my country. I celebrate Passover, Rosh Hashanah, I commemorate Yom Kippur. Not Easter… Not Christmas! Why do I have to have Christmas shoved down my throat! I want to live with my people.

SIMON

But we live in America, and you should understand…

DAVID

Precisely, we live in America and even American’s don’t understand me. They don’t get it Dad. They don’t get our holidays, they don’t get our customs, and they don’t get what is this whole deal with Israel if we are Americans.

SIMON

But I see myself as American, and so should you. And we love Israel, sure. And that is what counts. What we think and not what all the Gentiles think about it.

DAVID

See, you are just the same. You said it, them, the Gentiles. And we, the Jews. Just wanted to tell you that I’m going home. To our home, the Jewish homeland. Goodbye, Dad.

(David turns and exits the scene)

But…

SIMON

I-14

(Simon looks at the sofa where the book stands, picks it up)

Oh, the hell with Judaism!

(scene freezes, lights dim. Enters Tevye on spotlight)

TEVYE

Oy vey, poor Simon. Son of our Nation. Even if he doesn’t say it aloud, he likes being a Jew, and he doesn’t want to stop being one. Maybe that would be easier, you know, to assimilate. First Chrismukka, Then Passeaster. Or is it Peaster? But he can’t. Maybe he doesn’t know how to be a Jew. He doesn’t want to be religious. That’s so out of fashion, so”19 th century.” And it requires a lot of sacrifice too. Move to Israel? No way. In America life is pretty good.

(Tevye picks up wallet from coffee table).

Maybe charity? Donate Money to Israel? But if giving money to Israel is what being Jewish is, then there is nobody more Jewish than the American government. Let us think, then. How can Simon solve his problem, and continue being Jewish.

(Tevye exits scene whistling “if I were a rich man”)

ACT II

II-1

(An office with a desk, a phone, a small conference table. A liquor cabinet in the back. Also a door where the lobby and the desk of a secretary can be visible. )

(The scene starts with a Hassidic dance

number.

the dancers remove their hats, beards and

peyot, and put clip on

four executives. They sit at the conference table and Simon enters the scene humming “if I were a rich man)

At the end of the number, four of

ties to become the

SIMON

(to himself)

If I were a rich man? What am I saying? I am rich!

EXECUTIVE 1

Mr. Levy! Welcome, please come in.

EXECUTIVE 2

Please Sir, sit down.

(E2 Pulls chair)

EXECUTIVE 3

Here Mr. Levy, please, have a cup of coffee. Just like you like it, extra cream and four Sweat & Lows

EXECUTIVE 4

Please sir, here, have a Cigar. From my personal collection. You know, Not-Cuban

(E4 Winks and extends the Cigar. All Executives laugh)

SIMON

(Ignoring the Cigar and the Coffee, nods to the executives)

II-2

Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones, Mr. Williams, Mr. Brown…. Where is Jake?

(Executives react with fake concern, start looking around in ridiculous places, like under table, behind paintings, etc.)

(Jacob enter scene unkempt and in a hurry)

ALL EXECUTIVES

Mr. Schwartz!

EXECUTIVE 1

What happened to you, are you all right?

JACOB

I’m OK, it’s nothing. Thank you. I’m sorry I’m late.

(All executives sigh in unison in feigned relief)

SIMON

Jake, Jake. Late as always. Anyway, did you bring the accounting reports?

JACOB

I’m sorry Sim… Mr. Levy.

SIMON

That’s OK. Jake. OK, let’s start the meeting. Gentleman, let’s start with your reports.

EXECUTIVE 1

(E1 Stands up to deliver his report)

Yes, Mr. Levy. In the production department we have produced 3210 units of product A, while we have increased production to 4509 units of product B. There was a decreased of 567 of Product C….

(E1 Continues talking about products in low voice)

EXECUTIVE 2

II-3

(E2 Stands up to deliver his report)

In the advertising area, we have placed 987 adds in print media, while we have increased the number of adds in radio to 9867. We have decreased t6he adds in cable by

20%

(E2 Continues talking about advertising in low voice)

EXECUTIVE 3

(E3 Stands up to deliver his report)

The human resources department has a payroll of 10567 employees, while we have hired 568 employees in the quarter, but at the same time have liquidated 854 employees…

(E3 Continues talking about personnel in low voice)

EXECUTIVE 4

(E4 Stands up to deliver his report)

Sales in the quarter have been brisk without being hot. There was a chill in the sales of product A, but a warm

up in the sales of product B.

hot launch of product C in the Fall…

We are gearing up for a

(all executive keep murmuring and standing with the reports on their hands until the scene resembles a Jewish Amidah prayer).

Amen.

SIMON

ALL EXECUITIVES

Amen

SIMON

You may all be seated.

(all executives seat)

II-4

Thank you, gentleman. That was very inspiring. Now, if you can please excuse me and Jacob.

EXECUTIVE 1

Certainly, Mr. Levy.

(executives stand up, leave office but

stay in the lobby.

office and spot light focuses on lobby)

Lights dim in the

EXECUTIVE 2

Schwartz is such an idiot. I don’t understand why Levy made him CEO.

EXECUTIVE 3

Don’t you know.

Their kind always “stick together.”

He is Jewish.

You know how it is.

EXECUTIVE 4

Well, we better be very careful, you know how this Jews might stab us on the back any day now.

EXECUTIVE 1

The company is doing great for now, so I wouldn’t worry. Finances are good. You know, Levy and Schwartz are always so “thrifty”

You mean Stingy

EXECUTIVE 2

(all executives laugh)

EXECUTIVE 3

All I say is that we better be careful

(lights return to normal. Executives exit scene. Door knocking)

Enter!

SIMON

MARY LOUISE

II-5

(Mary Louise enters office)

Mr. Levy, there is a Mr. Greenberg here to see you from the United Jewish Appeal.

SIMON

Dear god! More money, more money. Why does everybody want money?

(starts crying)

JACOB

There, there Simon. Here

(Hands Simon a handkerchief. Simon blows his nose loudly, and tries to return the handkerchief to Jacob, but he shows disgust and refuses.)

No, no, take it. It’s my donation to the United Jewish Appeal.

(Simon nods and puts Handkerchief in his pocket)

OK, let him in.

SIMON

(To Mary Louise)

(Mary Louise nods and exits office)

GREENBERG

(Greenberg walks in)

Simon! Long time no see you!

(Opens arms in hug gesture)

SIMON

Harry! Yes, long time indeed.

II-6

(Walks towards Greenberg to give him a hug. They hug and start patting each other)

GREENBERG

Yes, indeed, I think we have not seen you since… yes, since your last pledge!

(Greenberg starts feeling Simon’s pockets)

SIMON

Harry, what are you doing?

GREENBERG

I’m just going for your checkbook, Simon.

SIMON

(Abruptly breaks embrace)

Ahem, what can I do for you, Harry?

GREENBERG

Do I need to ask, Simon? Please, you know I hate asking people for money… Well, maybe not.

(smiles)

SIMON

But I already gave you a pledge over the phone during Passover.

GREENBERG

Simon, you know that a phone pledge isn't worth the paper it's written on. How about a check?

Fine, fine.

SIMON

You guys are going to suck me dry.

II-7

(Takes out checkbook and starts writing check)

GREENBERG

Being Jewish is not cheap. And we all have to support Israel any way we can. You know, or young people are out there fighting.

SIMON

Don’t remind me. Here, here’s your check.

GREENBERG

What. Simon, your are one of the leading entrepreneurs of our community, a true leader. No, a Leader’s leader. Is this the best you can do? Let’s do this. I’ll write a number on this piece of paper here, and you can tell me how much more than that you can give, OK?

SIMON

I’m sorry, Harry, but had too many expenses this year. I can’t up my pledge.

GREENBERG

(points at Jacob)

C’Mon Simon. Mr. Schwartz here already upped his pledge. Up yours!

SIMON

Harry, that’s all for today. I’m sorry. Call me again for the Yom Kippur drive.

GREENBERG

Fine, fine. Maybe then you’ll feel you need to atone for some of your sins. Thank you Simon. Jacob. See you around.

(Greenberg exits scene).

MARY LOUISE

II-8

(Mary Louise enters office)

Mr. Levy, there is gentleman here to see you, He says it’s very important.

SIMON

What is it about, Mary Louise?

MARY LOUISE

He did not want to say, sir. But he says its important and needs to talk to you

SIMON

Very well, please tell him that Mr. Schwartz will be there to help him in a minute.

Yes sir.

MARY LOUISE

(MARY LOUISE closes door and exits scene)

SIMON

Jake, this numbers are great. You are a financial

genius, you know you are the only one I can trust with

this.

this gentleman.

OK, thank you.

Go check what is the deal with

JACOB

Certainly, Simon. Thank you.

(Jacob exits scene. Simon makes phone call).

II-9

SIMON

Mr. Governor?

Warberg contract. I guess I owe you that one, hmmm…

no John, you know you can count on me too…

How are you?

I got the news on the

No,

Hey what are

friends for. … How are those re-election plans going?

(Jacob enters office hurriedly and agitated)

JACOB

Simon, Simon, it’s urgent…

SIMON

(Simon covers handset. Speaks softly)

I’m in the phone with the governor!

JACOB

Trust me, this is URGENT!

Fine.

SIMON

(On the phone)

I have to go.

Saturday? Will do. Take care.

John, I’m sorry.

I’ll see you for Golf

(To Jacob, who is fidgeting and acting very nervous)

OK, what is it.

 

JACOB

Aaaaaaaaa…

 

SIMON

What?

 

JACOB

Aaaaaaaaa…

 

SIMON

What!?

Aaaaaaaaa…

JACOB

II-10

(Agent McCoy enters office)

AGENT McCOY

Aaaaaaaaagent McCoy, Mr. Levy.

(AGENT McCOY flashes Badge)

Office of the State Attorney General.

(Simon freezes up with mouth open)

AGENT McCOY

Mr. Levy? Mr. Levy???

SIMON

I’m sorry, Agent Mc Coy. What can I do for you?

AGENT McCOY

I’m investigating the matter of some illegal gifts and campaign contributions for the campaign of Governor Collins.

SIMON

I’m sorry, but I don’t think I know anything about that.

AGENT McCOY

Oh, Mr. Levy, but I think you do. I think you and some of your Jewish friends have been involved in some illegal activities to influence high level politicians.

Excuse me!

(Upset)

SIMON

AGENT McCOY

II-11

You heard me. I know how you and your Jewish friends have been scheming for years.

SIMON

I’m sorry Agent McCoy, but I find that comment very offensive. I’m a Taxpaying American Citizen and I deserve your respect!

American Citizen… C’Mon, Mr. Levy. You and your dual

loyalties, and your Israel Lobby. I know about your ties with the spies from the AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Haven’t two cronies of AIPAC already being convicted for Spying for Israel. If you had to choose, Mr. Levy, who would you choose, America or

Israel?

SIMON

I don’t know what you are talking about

AGENT McCOY

Don’t play coy with me, Simon. I actually think it’s very ingenious how your people have been controlling American foreign policy for years. Not to mention American business. The Abramoff scandal? How many politicians did your fellow Jew buy? Did you people bargain with them, mhhh?

SIMON

I think you have cross the line, Agent. leave now.

I want you to

AGENT McCOY

But I’m on to you, Sir. And Let me tell you, you wont be

able to influence this investigation. You won’t buy THIS

agent.

You won’t be able to Jew ME down!

SIMON

(Very upset).

You sir, are an anti-Semite and a racist, and I don’t have anything else to say to you. If you have any actual questions, please refer them to my lawyer. Good day sir.

AGENT McCOY

Oh, you will be hearing from me. assured.

Mr. Levy.

Rest

II-12

(AGENT McCOY Leaves scene)

Jake, Jake.

SIMON

This is not good.

JACOB

Don’t worry, Simon. Our lawyers will deal with him.

SIMON

It’s not that, Jake. It’s the anti-Semitism, the hatred.

Did you see it? because I’m a Jew.

What did I do to him?

He hates me

JACOB

Not all of them are like that, Simon.

SIMON

No, but too many are, my friend.

(Simon pats Jacob’s back. Presses a button on the phone)

Mary Louise? Cancel the rest of my meetings for the evening.

MARY LOUISE

Certainly, Mr. Levy

SIMON

Thank you

(releases intercom)

Anyway, I need to calm down. about a double Latte Jake?

I need a strong drink.

How

II-13

JACOB

I’m sorry Simon.

Shabbat dinner. Why don’t you do the same and spend an evening with your family?

I have to make it home early for

(lights dimmed, spot light of members of Simon’s family who cross the stage with credit cards/checks in hand)

It[‘s OK. Jake. family.

SIMON

I understand. Go, home with your

JACOB

Thanks, Simon. Shabbat Shalom.

SIMON

(Hesitant)

Shabbat…. Shalom, Jake.

(Jacob leaves scene. Simon walks towards liquor cabinet meditatively. Opens liquor cabinet and reveals big Espresso machine. Sound of preparing Latte. Then turns around with big cup of coffee in his hand)

SIMON

Shabbat shalom…. Shabbat shalom indeed, my dear Jacob Schwartz.

(Simon shakes his head, looks at the audience)

Le’Chaim!

(Takes big sip out of coffee cup. Scene freezes, light dimmed. Enters Tevye.)

TEVYE

II-14

It looks like being Jewish today is not what it used to

be in my time, back in Russia, in the small town of Anatevka. Down there all of us felt Jewish. We spoke the same language, and all celebrated the same holidays, whether in Anatevka, or Kiev, Odessa or Lublin, Casablanca or Damascus. We didn’t even call it a town. It had its own Jewish word. We called it a Shtetl. That is why Judaism survived for so many centuries, there was a sense of community, of being a total Jew. But now it’s

not like that, a Jew is only Half a Jew.

also and American, an American Jew, a French Jew, a Canadian Jew… it doesn’t matter, it’s the same. The problem is that everyday we are less Jewish, and more American. That’s it.

Now a Jew is

(Looks towards heaven)

God, `why didn’t you send us the Mashiach back then?

(Tevye walks shaking his head out of scene).

ACT III

III-1

(Same living room as Act I. Enter Sarah and Nancy with shopping bags. Nancy pulls out TV remote from her purse and laughs.)

SARAH

What I don’t get, Nancy, is why did you bring your TV remote to the mall with you?

NANCY

Well, it’s very simple, my husband refused to let me use his credit card today, so I figured this was the most evil thing I could do to him.

(Both laugh)

SARAH

I’m so sad I couldn’t get that nice little dress from Neiman Marcus. It’s just that I looked so fat! You would think a Jewish store like that would be more sensitive to our body type.

NANCY

Oy Sarah darling, nonsense. You look positively marvelous.

SARAH

You are such a liar. After Passover I went on this special diet for two weeks. You know, it’s the new rage. It’s called the Atkinson Beach Watchers.

NANCY

Sounds fascinating.

SARAH

It’s really hard. You have to swear off sweets, bread, carbs and calories for two weeks!

NANCY

And what did you loose, hon.

 

SARAH

Two weeks of my life!

 

NANCY

You are so funny

 

SARAH

III-2

Yeah, well, my dear, we sure had fun in the mall today.

We sure did.

NANCY

(Both laugh loudly. Rose enters scene. She is in a somber mood, wearing a black ribbon in her shirt and a button that says Never Forget, Never Forgive”)

SARAH

Rose darling, what is wrong. What’s this! Who died?

ROSE

It’s nothing, Mom. Don’t you know? Today is Holocaust Memorial day. I just came back from the ceremony at the JCC. It kind of got to me.

NANCY

Oh, honey. Those things are so depressing. I didn’t even remember today was Holocaust memorial day. Robert is the one who usually checks the newsletter from the JCC.

SARAH

(hugging Rose)

I’m sorry, sweetheart. I didn’t remember either.

ROSE

III-3

Is that just thinking that six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. I don’t know. Everything sounds so incredible, and so cruel, I can’t understand how they could do that to us. I don’t understand hoe the Jews didn’t stand up and fight.

(David enters scene, also wearing a ribbon)

DAVID

Hi sis, Hi Mom.

you at the ceremony, such a shame there were so few people. It looks like every year there are less and less people who attend the commemoration of the Holocaust.

Hello. Mrs. Goldberg. So, Rose, I saw

ROSE

Yeah, you know.

It really got to me.

(Points at her button)

Never forget, Never forgive. I guess that is the point. People seem to be forgetting. We can’t let that happen! We need to keep alive the memory of those who perished. And never forgive. Because who can forgive those Nazi criminals!

DAVID

Don’t be so melodramatic, sis.

SARAH

David. That was very insensitive!

DAVID

I’m sorry Mom. But all of it is so senseless. Never forget, Never forgive. Every year is the same thing. A nice ceremony that less and less people even attend, a big sign in the door, a girl that recites a poem, a woman who sings. A community leader delivers a speech. All with the same message: Never forget, Never forgive. But who remembers the history?

ROSE

David! Calm down already.

DAVID

III-4

Sure, I should calm down and repeat like everybody else:

Never forget, never forgive. Never forget, never forgive. Never forget, never forgive. But that is not the point! The point is that we should not forget so it would never happen again. Never AGAIN!

(Silence for a second).

That’s what’s important, and what we are forgetting. And because we have forgotten, its happening again. This time we don’t have trains crammed full or concentration camps in order to terminate the Jewish people. No, today we are bringing an end to Jewish life on our own. We drive towards the end of our people in luxury cars, and we don’t need to exterminate the Jewish body because the Jewish soul is committing suicide on its own.

ROSE

You are crazy, somebody brain-washed you in one of these Jewish youth groups you belong too. No wonder you want to move to Israel. Sorry, Mom, I’m out of here.

(Rose leaves the scene, while Sarah and Nancy stare at David in disbelief.)

What???!!!!

DAVID

(Turns around and exits scene visibly upset)

NANCY

(Like nothing has happened, just sits down in the sofa and continues the conversation)

So, your son wants to move to Israel?

SARAH

III-5

Oy darling, don’t remind me. I’m so worried? Were does a nice Jewish boy get crazy ideas like moving to Israel. I mean, don’t take me wrong, I love Israel, and I was there twice in 1977 and 1982. But the place is so… crude. And dangerous. I don’t know, hon.

NANCY

My dear Sarah. You know, I think you need a drink.

(Stands up to go for a drink)

SARAH

Oh thank you darling, but it’s OK. A Jewish mother should never drink alcohol.

Why is that?

NANCY

SARAH

Well, you know, alcohol interferes with the suffering. Don’t mind me, though. I’m kvetching. Go ahead and get something for yourself if you want. We have Baley’s and Amareto.

NANCY

Don’t mind if I do.

(Pours herself a drink)

But, say, Sarah.

usually such a mensch?

What really got into your son.

SARAH

He is

Yes, he is usually so well behaved. I don’t know, maybe

its the hormones, you know.

to start puberty my little one.

He is 17 so he must be about

NANCY

Sometimes I’m glad I’m past that stage and all my kids

are out of the house. But other times I get so sad.

mean, my little Joseph is only 30 and I cried soooo much

when he decided to leave.

I

SARAH

III-6

I know what you mean. By the way, how is your little Adam

doing. Didn’t he move to the Midwest after his wedding.

NANCY

Yes, they are living in Wyoming now. He is working as a computer engineer.

SARAH

Yes, that kid always had a good head on his shoulders. It was so hard to believe when he married that Shiksa…

(Silence)

NANCY

Well, at least my little Adam was smart enough not to move all the way to the Middle East with the Camels and the terrorists.

SARAH

Well, I rather have that than see him marry in a Presbyterian church, full of goyim, with that terrible cross dangling from your heads.

NANCY

(Agitated, increased volume)

Adam at least would have never screamed and insulted me the way your son did, and much less in front of my friends. He is such a Mamzerook.

SARAH

(Suddenly stops. Asks calmly)

A what?

NANCY

(Sits down and explains calmly)

A Mamzerook, you know. It’s Yiddish for a naughty little

boy.

Oh, I see.

SARAH

It’s that with an “S”

NANCY

III-7

No, no, more like a “Z,” Mamzzzerook.

OK.

SARAH

(agitated again)

My son is nothing of the sorts. my former friends.

NANCY

And you mean in front of

(Speechless, acts offended. Puts drink

down and turns around to leave. Sarah does

the same.

then turn around. Run to each other. Give

kisses in the air “Smuak, Smuak” and turn around to leave again)

They both give a few steps,

OK, so talk to you tomorrow

SARAH

Call me, I’ll be at the hairdresser in the morning.

 

NANCY

OK, bye.

 

SARAH

Bye

(Nancy moves to exit scene. Simon enters as she is leaving)

Oh, hi Nancy.

SIMON

(Nancy walks by him without saying a word)

Oh, bye Nancy.

III-8

What was that?

SIMON

SARAH

Oy, Simon. David!

today, he made a scene with Rose right here, and in front

of my friend Nancy, talking about the Holocaust and Jewish stuff. He is such a Mamzerook!

He is usually such a nice boy.

But

A what?

SIMON

SARAH

Don’t you know Yiddish anymore? A Mamzerook, you know, a naughty little boy.

Oh, I see.

SIMON

It’s that with an “S”

SARAH

No, no, more like a “Z,” Mamzzzerook.

OK.

SIMON

SARAH

Simon, you need to talk to him. think is puberty.

SIMON

He is out of control. I

Fine, fine, I’ll talk to him.

Tell him to come down.

SARAH

(Walks off scene. Shouting)

Daviiiiiiid, your father wants to talk to you.

(David enters scene)

DAVID

Oh hi dad, what’s up?

SIMON

III-9

David, I don’t know what’s up with you. First, this whole nonsense about moving to Israel. And now your mother tells me you made a scene in front of her friend about the Holocaust. Where did you get all of that stuff from? Your Mother says you are a Mamzerook!

A what?

DAVID

SIMON

A Mamzerook, you know, a naughty little boy.

Oh, I see.

DAVID

It’s that with an “S”

SIMON

No, no, more like a “Z,” Mamzzzerook. Don’t you know Yiddish anymore?

DAVID

No, I don’t. And neither do you.

SIMON

Oh yeah, that’s right.

DAVID

Anyway, are you going to start with this too, dad? Do you want to know where did I get all of this stuff from? Well, from you! Wasn’t you who use to tell me when I was little all of these stories about how the Jewish people was so special, that we should be proud of our past? Didn’t you tell me about how we had survived for two thousand years, yearning year after year just to be back next year in Jerusalem?

Well, yes, but…

SIMON

DAVID

III-10

But nothing, dad. You know, today was Yom HaShoa, Holocaust remembrance day. Did you know that 90% of the people in the community didn’t even know what day was today? I guess what happened to Six million of our people, your own family, dad, your uncles and aunts, is not enough of a reminder of why we should stay united.

SIMON

David, you are right. I feel very Jewish. Jerusalem with me here

(thumps his chest)

I take

But Jews are just like any other people. We want to have

a good life, health, a good education for our children.

DAVID

I know, dad. But we also have a culture, a set of

beliefs, customs, values. Judaism is more than a religion. Its not something that you can only feel. Is something that you have to do. we cannot be Jewish unless you are a community, a nation. Kol Israel Arevim Ze laze. All of Israel are responsible for each other. In order to be Jewish you have to think a little bit less about the me, and a little but more about

the we. And unless we do that, we are doomed to disappear.

SIMON

David, we have suffered for so long. We were persecuted in every place we lived, expelled from every land we inhabited. Aren’t we entitled to finally have a good life? Aren’t we entitled to belong? You don’t have to go insane with all this Jewish stuff.

DAVID

III-11

Perhaps we deserve a good life, dad. And perhaps I am going insane with all of the Jewish stuff, as you say. But in my insanity I see the ancient Jerusalem talking to the ancient Rome, and Rome wants to conquer, and Jerusalem cries. And when I get close I see that Jerusalem does not have the courage to speak, and that the Ancient Rome is in reality modern New York, or London, or Zurich, and the money and the material wealth speak for Rome, but Jerusalem doesn’t have the bravery to respond. Jerusalem, Yerushalaim, our values, our history, are silent in front of the force of materialism.

SIMON

But my son, why can’t we just learn to live like everybody else, here in America. Compared to other groups, we have it very good. Why do you have to move to Israel?

DAVID

Look, dad. I’m still young. And here inside

(touches his temples)

still hammers that thing about opportunity. The opportunity to be a Normal people. The opportunity to be a free people. The opportunity to be! You can continue to have your Jerusalem here

(thumps his chest)

(David turns around and faces public)

But it will never have the courage to raise its voice, and little by little, generation after generation, that Jerusalem will turn slowly into Rome, and the Jewish people will be lost forever. Just remember that for 2000 years we kept repeating the lament of the exile: If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning! But today we have a new lament: Oh Jerusalem, Yerushalaim, are we selling you, like Joseph was sold by his brothers, for 20 pieces of silver?

(David exits scene distressed, running. Simon, affected, collapses on the sofa).

(Lights dim, Tevye enters the scene)

TEVYE

III-12

Well, he is in a very big mess indeed. It looks like his world is crumbling little by little.

(Picks up Jewish book that is still on coffee table. Looks at it, attempts to give it to Simon, but then changes his mind).

First this

(points at the book)

Then the anti-Semitism, employees that will never tell him to his face, but certainly recent him. Then the investigation. Poor Simon, only wanted to have a little bit more influence, a little bit of a better life. TEVYE (Continues)

Yeah, he is in a very big mess indeed. You know, in Anatevka everything was so much simpler. In Anatevka we were all poor, we lived all together, and when we said

every Passover “Next Year in Jerusalem,” we really meant

OH, and we would have done it too if we had had the

chance.

it.

(Talking to Simon)

But, you are not poor, you don’t live connected to anybody. “Next Year in Jerusalem” is just an aphorism. This place is definitely very far away from Anatevka, or from that matter, Jerusalem.

(Tevye touches Simon, he unfreezes)

SIMON

Tevye! What can I do?

hard. To be Jewish, to be American. I want my children to remain Jewish, but today, in this age of diversity, it’s so hard. It’s so hard to maintain the balance. It is kind of…

I don’t have any answers. It is so

TEVYE

A fiddler on the roof

But here, in America, just like our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on a roof. Trying to play out a nice, simple tune without breaking his neck.

Sounds crazy, no?

SIMON

III-13

But Tevye. It is so hard. It would be so much easier to give up, to assimilate. To forget about the conflict and just be Americans? Why do we stay up here, in this roof, if it's so dangerous?

TEVYE

Well, we stay, my dear Simon, because Jerusalem is our home. American is our home. We have to maintain our equilibrium. And how do we keep our balance?

(Sound of “tradition” starts in background)

TEVYE (Continues)

That I could tell you in one word!

(Word “Tradition!” from song heard in background. Then stops)

Tradition. No.

Anatevka. When all we had was the Jerusalem of the heart. No, today is much more complicated. But we have to start somewhere

Not anymore. That used to work in

(Tevye picks up book, gives it to Simon. Points to book.).

I hope this it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

(Music of Jerusalem of Gold in Background. In screen, following words appear:

As long as within our hearts A Jewish soul still resonates, Our hope is not yet lost, To be a free people in our land The land of Zion and Jerusalem.