Legends of Anatevka
The characters and themes of Tevye the Milkman— the inspiration for
play Fiddler on the Roof—echo in some of the family stories from
this shtetl. It turns out that the great Yiddish
novelist and writer known as Sholom Aleichem (Sholem Rabinovich,
1859-1916) had a summer cottage in the village of Boyarka, only a
few miles east of Ignatovka. It was said that he spent time
each year walking to and visiting the nearby villages, collecting
stories and observing the colorful characters in the rural
communities. Sholom Aleichem created the rambunctious Tevye,
name-sake for the stories Tevye, the Milkman first published in
My own family has one branch which passed down stories of my
great-aunt Sorah, whose childhood friend was said to be Tseitel, the
rebellious daughter who gave Tevye much tsouris and
headache. Aunt Sorah’s parents in Ignatovka might have
been a competitor to Tevye as they themselves had a cow and sold
their milk and other comestibles in a rudimentary ‘grocery’, in
their house. It is not clear if Tevye, the man, or the
inspiration for the character, lived in Ignatovka or nearby, or was
perhaps purely fictional.
It turns out that two other families who lived in this shtetl also
have Tevye stories in their histories. One account tells of
Sholom Aleichem's visit to the village. It should be noted
that the town serving as the setting for Tevye the Milkman, was
never identified by name by the author. Anatevka was the
adopted name for the village in Fiddler the play, as well as being
the Yiddish name for the shtetl.
The author is commemorated by a life-sized bronze statue in a
“parklet” along a main boulevard of Kiev, adjacent the huge Brodskiy
Synagogue (See Photos).
Fact, legend and fiction blend seamlessly in the summer breezes
Return to the Home Page.
2021 Les Shipnuck and Scott