Who could have predicted that a Yiddish writer’s tales of an impoverished Jewish milkman in czarist Russia, reborn as a smash Broadway hit, would become a cultural touchstone of lasting popularity and global recognition into the 21st century?

In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, the Scotch Plains Public Library will examine the phenomenon of Fiddler on the Roof from a variety of vantage points.

On Thursday, May 2, at 7:00 p.m., the library will screen Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness, a riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. This film tells the tale of the rebellious genius who created an entirely new literature. Plumbing the depths of a Jewish world locked in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, he captured that world with brilliant humor. Sholem Aleichem was not just a witness to the creation of a new modern Jewish identity, but one of the very men who forged it.

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On Sunday, May 5, at 2:00 p.m., Ed Goldberg and the Odessa Klezmer Band bring the joyous dance music of the Klezmorim (Jewish folk musicians) to the Scotch Plains Public Library. They have been playing since 1984, celebrating the heritage of Eastern Europe, Ladino, and Middle Eastern music.

Later in the month, on Thursday, May 16, at 7:00 p.m., theater historian John Kenrick will present “The Legacy of Fiddler on the Roof,” digging deep into Aleichem’s short stories about a Jewish milkman in a Russian shtetl (small town) and how they became a lasting worldwide hit.

Rounding out the series, on Sunday, May 19, at 12:30 p.m., Tim White—author, historian, performer, professor, and a ScotLib favorite—will return to the library with Jessica Katz to lead a rousing group sing-a-long while viewing the 1971 hit film, Fiddler on the Roof.  Patrons are encouraged to come in costume and join in the fun!

Registration is not required for any of the programs listed above. For more information, go to www.scotlib.org, email library@scotlib.org, call (908) 322-5007 x 204 or stop by the Reference Desk. The Scotch Plains Library is located at 1927 Bartle Ave., one block from Park Ave. in the center of town.