‘Fiddler on the Roof’ shtetl now real-life Jewish refugee town

Today, the previously fictional hamlet of Anatevka is a very real place, and it’s currently serving as a safe haven for thousands of Ukrainian Jews hunkering down during the ongoing Russian invasion.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The classic musical Fiddler on the Roof introduced the fictional shtetl (Jewish hamlet) of Anatevka into popular culture.

Novelist Sholom Aleichem, who wrote the book on which the Broadway musical and later movie were based, modeled Anatevka after his childhood hometown of Boyarka, near Kyiv.

But today, Anatevka is a very real place, and it’s currently serving as a safe haven for thousands of Ukrainian Jews hunkering down during the ongoing Russian invasion.

The town was established by members of the Chabad movement in 2014 to provide emergency shelter and aid to Ukrainian Jews fleeing Russia’s military incursion at that time.

The decision to name the outpost Anatevka was made as a nod to the setting of the iconic story.

Since widespread fighting broke out across Ukraine in the last week, thousands of Jews have poured into Anatevka, which is some 27 kilometers (16 miles) southwest of Kyiv.

Ukraine Chief Rabbi Moshe Azman recently announced that Anatevka will provide food and shelter to any Jews seeking refuge from the conflict.

“This is a refugee village inhabited by thousands of Jews who fled Kyiv and the surrounding area. There are elderly Jews, men and women and many children,” Rabbi Azman’s son, Shmuel, told Hebrew-language media.

“We are close to Kyiv, but here the Jews are more protected. We give everyone who comes a place to stay, food, drink and other necessities. More and more Jews are coming all the time.”

Although the situation in Anatevka is relatively calm for now, Azman described chilling scenes of blackouts and explosions that were reminiscent of World War II.

“This Shabbat was not easy at all. At the moment, we are not allowed to turn on lights and the road to the bunker is not lit [due to the government curfew]. Everything here is dark because there are a lot of alerts that there are going to be a lot of explosions during the night.

“On Friday night, there were a lot of loud explosions. we put cellophane tape on all the windows so that the windows would not shatter because of the explosions.”

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