Passing of filmmaker who brought Fiddler on the Roof to the world 

Director Norman Jewison, right, and star Topol as Tevye on the set of the film version of "Fiddler on the Roof." (photo credit: ZEITGEIST FILMS IN ASSOCIATION WITH KINO LORBER)

By Editor

A few months ago, the SAZF Cape Council (CC) secured tickets at the Encounters Documentary Film Festival for a documentary about the making of the classic movie ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, and about the driving force behind the movie, filmmaker and producer Norman Jewison.

The documentary made for fascinating viewing, especially as it came just a short while after the SAZF CC secured the original ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ movie for its Film Club. Like so many people, I saw this wonderful movie a number of times in my childhood but hadn’t seen it for years. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to be included in the lives of Tevye the Milkman and his family again – it hadn’t dated, despite having been made in 1971, and its story of ordinary people becoming the victims of hatred and prejudice unfortunately rings just as true today as it did at the time that the story was set.

The documentary highlighted a great deal of Norman Jewison’s life, in particular his strong affiliation with the Jewish people. Although he was not born Jewish, his surname resulted in assumptions that he was, and he suffered the isolation and rejection typical of a small town (in this case in Canada) which didn’t know much about Jews. The only other Jewish child in town was similarly isolated and the two of them became close friends. From that friendship, Jewison developed a close affinity with and love of Jews and of our religion – interestingly, he chose to get married under a chuppah for his second marriage, even though neither he nor his new wife were officially Jewish.

I was reminded about the fascinating story of Norman Jewison and of the making of the film that became iconic in cinema history recently when news broke of his death at the age of 97. A great friend of Jews around the world, he lived a remarkable life.

Go well, Norman.

The SAZF CC Film Club resumes its 2024 programme with the showing of the movie, Apples from the Desert, on Sunday, 11 February, at 18h30. To confirm your attendance, email

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