Sunday, January 5, 2014


Our Jerusalem streets abound with artists, musicians, actors - performers of every shape and talent - delighting... or annoying... passersby. Any and every corner can suddenly become a stage, and since Jerusalem is known for it's ..emm, unusual affect on many visitors or even residents, one can expect almost anything. The gig is usually for passersby to throw in coins of appreciation, sometimes to advertise an event..sometimes just for the sheer joy of performing in this supernatural City.

Because there are so many, so often, as a Jerusalemite, one rarely pays much attention, occasionally nodding or noting an appreciation if especially entertaining. Sometimes though, even the most blase among us get caught up in the beat, in the moment, and you might see people breaking into spontaneous dance just walking down the street, should they happen upon someone really good.

Visitors of course are another matter.  Enthralled with anything and everything about this City, they often stand in awe, drawn in, clapping, and of course, snapping picture after picture with their cell phones held high.  As a resident, sometimes it is a little embarrassing...i mean we really are normal, most of us. (I think)

But this fall, I too was fascinated and drawn to two remarkable fiddlers, fiddling, not on the rooftops, but very close, as they stood on a wall near the entrance to the Old City, at the Jaffa Gate. Walking past this spot one or two times a week, as I work in the Old City, I first spotted the dark outline of the fiddlers against the Jerusalem sky, and it was pretty startling. I felt a bit like Tevye, going about my business, and there he was, the familiar tune and the fiddler silhouetted against the sky. I really wished my daughter could have been with me, she would love it !

It was rather remarkable actually.  I mean life is very intense in Israel at all times and while we fake it a lot, there is a shadow of uncertainty hovering over us constantly.  But here was the fiddler, buoying us up, giving us a thumbs up, helping us to get through.  When the fiddler is at the Gates of the Old City, there is a little spring and lightness in my step as I bound up the time to his music of course.

The fiddler and his music is a symbol of hope and survival for many Jews...through our history and times of trouble and uncertainty, the fiddler is there. If you remember from the play, as the drama ends and they are all leaving Anatevka, the very last scene is the fiddler, beginning to play, and, at Tevye's beckoning nod, he follows them out of the village. Kol beseder.

In our case, there are actually two fiddlers. Erik Fleshler and Vladimir Bob (Yourochkin) and they go by the musical moniker, Tip Top.Jerusalem. They call themselves The Eccentric Duo, and that they are.

A bit obscure, funky, and funny, Erik and Vladimir Bob are entertainers for free or for hire, here in Jerusalem, in Moscow, or perhaps wherever you need them, if they are available.You can find their page on Facebook, or contact them at  I think they have other tricks up their sleeve, because they made me a balloon snow bird? while talking with them.  :)

To be honest, I didn't ask a lot about them because I want to keep them in that somewhat esoteric place - Fiddlers on the Roofs of Jerusalem - where the music and the image speak louder than words, where the supernatural and the natural blend as one, and we don't have to ask questions.


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