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. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness 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.
This poignant film offers audiences the chance to explore the great author's universe: the world of our grandparents and great grandparents whose immigration to the United States forged the present day American Jewish community. It's a story with many parallels in the other great American immigration sagas, the Irish and the Italian, to name just two, but a story with its own peculiar flavors both sweet and bitter.
Far from the folksy grandfather many people mistake him to be, Sholem Aleichem was a sophisticated modern writer and cosmopolitan intellectual, an artist the equal of Chekhov or Gogol or Isaac Babel. His work left lasting legacies in Israel and the Soviet Union, as well as in America to which Sholem Aleichem immigrated twice, and where he died in 1916. His funeral was attended by some 200,000 people. It was the largest public funeral the city had ever witnessed and announced the arrival of the American Jewish community as a force to be reckoned with. In the following decades, Sholem Aleichem's work, especially his Teyve stories, would be interpreted time and again by an American Jewish community whose own identity was evolving over time.