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In prerevolutionary Russia, a Jewish peasant contends with marrying off three of his daughters while growing antisemitic sentiment threatens his village.

It's pre-revolutionary Russia in the largely Jewish community of Anatevka, Ukraine, whose residents are ruled by community and cultural traditions. For poor dairy farmer Tevye and his wife Golde, those traditions include getting the town matchmaker, Yente, to find their five daughters - the three oldest, Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava, who are barely of marrying age - suitable wealthy husbands, especially important since the girls will have no dowries. Tzeitel, not yet twenty, doesn't like that Yente only chooses old men, she who is mutually in love with the poor tailor, Motel. Motel doesn't believe Tevye would approve of a union between him and Tzeitel because of Motel's poor socioeconomic state, and without someone arranging the union. Hodel understands these traditions better than her elder sister, Hodel who has her sights on the rabbi's son, because of what he is, not because of who he is. Chava accepts her fate, marriage still being years away, but she hopes for someone she will love while she now focuses on her love of books. Change away from those traditions is in the air, which is confirmed by Perchik, a young man, a student espousing Marxist ideals, recently arrived from Kiev. This change may affect what happens matrimonially with Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava. But this change is also in the form of anti-Jewish sentiments sweeping across Europe, which may affect what happens to Tevye, his family, and the Jewish community in Anatevka as a whole.


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