Joel Grey and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Cast to Release ‘God Bless America’ Video in Yiddish on Eve of Inauguration

By Kurt Stolz on 14 January 2021
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The cast of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish

The award-winning cast of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish along with its producer, Tony Award-winner Joel Grey, is preparing a performance of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” a patriotic song often thought of as an unofficial national anthem.

The performance, which will be made available as a video on the morning of January 19, is intended to celebrate and honor the ideals of the United States of America and serve as a prayer for peace amidst the inauguration of President-Elect Joseph Biden the following day after an attempted armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the second impeachment of the current president, Donald Trump.

The much-heralded National Yiddish Theater production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish opened last February at Stage 42, an off-Broadway theater originally known as the Little Shubert, after an extended run downtown at the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene.

The Yiddish language production of “Fiddler” brought with it the great authenticity that seeing and hearing Tevye, Golde, Yente, and the other denizens of Anatevke speak Yiddish, the original language of the characters, as well as the same extraordinary moving experience that harkens back to Sholem Aleichem’s original stories (written in the mama-loshen, or mother tongue, as Yiddish is often referred to).

“God Bless America” was written by Berlin during the First World War and revised by him shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.  A recording by Kate Smith is considered by many to be the gold standard in performance of the anthem, which is written in the form of a prayer.

The song asks for God’s blessing and peace for the nation in the lyrics “…stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with the light from above.”

 

The video will be available on the theater’s website.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

 

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