Tevye’s Daughters’ Ghosts
Title: Tevye’s Daughters’ Ghosts
Author: Sam James
Disclaimer: Willow Rosenberg, her parents, Tara, and any other Buffy characters and concepts are the property of 20th Century Fox and whatever arrangement they have with Mutant Enemy and Joss Whedon. Characters from Fiddler on the Roof
are owned by the estate of Sholem Aleichem (Solomon Yakov Rabinowitz), the musical version by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick, and the movie by United Artists and directed and produced by Norman Jewison. Hanukkah and its characters and concepts are the property of the Jewish people. This is produced not for profit. I claim no ownership of anything here save the plot.
Note: The idea that Willow’s parents neglected her from a young age and were never around is a creation of fandom based largely on one ep in which Willow’s mother thought Buffy’s name was Bunny. This story assumes a closer, more complex, relationship.Tevye’s Daughters’ Ghosts
By Sam James
When Willow came back from Shabbas dinner with her parents, Tara was in the dorm room waiting. Even though Willow was a sophomore in college, her parents insisted she come home each Friday night to light the Shabbas candles and have dinner with her family. Buffy had joked that this custom seemed “awfully WBish”, whatever that meant, but Willow’s mother said that if Willow didn’t like it, there was still time to transfer to somewhere further away – like Harvard. Besides, what college student would pass up a free home-cooked meal?
“So, what are our plans for tonight?” Willow asked after she stepped in and closed the door. “I hear there’s a party in Lehman Hall. Or we can see a movie.” She saw Tara frown. “Or we can stay in. Have a quiet night with my honey.”
Tara lifted her head, “When are you going to tell them?”
“Tell who? About what?” Willow asked, confused.
“Your parents. About us.”
?” Willow looked around. “You know they aren’t a big part of my life anymore. I’m a free woman. An adult woman. And Giles knows all about you. He’s sort of like a parent to me.”
“Willow.” That one word cut through her babble. “They’re still your parents. And this won’t be real as long as you keep it from them.”
“Why not? I’ve kept most of my life from them since I met Buffy. They don’t know about my witchcraft, my hacking, my helping save the world from vampires. My parents and my real life are not at all mixy.”
Willow looked at Tara, whose face was scrunched up as if to avoid a tear. Willow feared Tara’s Disappointed Face as much as Xander did Willow’s Resolve Face. She flung herself on her bed, back first.
“I… I just don’t know how to talk to them about anything real,” Willow said in a hushed tone. “I can’t just go up to them and say, the person I love is a woman, a non-Jew. Like Moses, the words won’t come to me. I want to, but…”
Tara’s disappointment was palpable. Willow cringed.
“It was easier in the old days when marriages were arranged. I remember stories about my great, great grandmother in the old country….” Willow sat up suddenly. “That’s it! I know where we can get the perfect advice. From her ghost. And those of her sisters.”
It was the work of a moment to get some candles and the ingredients for a summoning spell.
“I don’t know about this,” Tara protested. “It seems a misuse of magic for personal gain. You need to remember that magic shouldn’t be your first solution to everything.”
“Relax,” Willow said, happy that she had a plan. “These are my relatives. They won’t hurt us.”
Tara was still skeptical, “But shouldn’t I meet your living relatives before you introduce me to your dead ones?”
But it was too late; Willow had already lit the candles and begun chanting. Tara knew there was nothing she could do save support her loved one with her magical energies.
After the chant was over, Tara saw three smoky apparitions emerge from Willow’s head and gain strength from the candle light. Soon the forms of three women appeared, hair covered with white kerchiefs and wearing peasant blouses of late 19th/early 20th century Russia.
“Sholem Aleichem,” said Willow to the spirits. “Greetings,” she whispered the translation to Tara, before continuing in English. “Bubbie Tzeitel, Auntie Hodel, Auntie Chava welcome. I’m your great-great many more greats granddaughter and niece.
“Dressed like that?” said Hodel.
“Americans dress differently,” said Tzeitel, who had emigrated to America herself.
“I need your advice. I know that none of you had traditional arranged marriages as was normal in your day,” Willow said. “Can you tell me how you got Zadie Tevye to agree?”
“You need help convincing your parents to accept your young man?” Tzeitel said. “Shouldn’t he be here?”
Willow held Tara’s hand. “This is my Tara.”
“Oh my,” said Chava. “Things in America are different.”
The three sisters looked at each other. Finally the eldest spoke.
“The matchmaker in our village had arranged a match between the town butcher and me,” said Tzeitel. “But I loved Motel, the tailor. We had grown up together. I begged Papa not to make me marry Lazar Wolf and Motel came and said he had a perfect match for me, himself. Papa said marriages must be arranged, but he saw how Motel and I looked at each other and said love was more important than tradition. He even had to fake a nightmare in which he said the spirit of the butcher’s dead wife threatened my life.” She looked at her sisters. “But if we’re here, than I guess spirits are real after all.”
“I fell in love with Perchik, a political radical who was teaching my younger sisters,” said the second sister, Hodel. “ He struck me as so brave, the way he flouted tradition, dancing with me at my sister’s wedding even though tradition forbade mixed dancing. We told Papa that we were getting married and did not ask his permission, only his blessing. He was so furious. Tradition had it that marriages were arranged and approved by the Papa. But he realized that the world was changing and traditions were not so firm anymore. And he saw our faces and said we loved each other so gave us both his blessing and permission.”
“I don’t think my story will help,” said Chava, whose hair was almost the same reddish color as Willow’s. “I fell in love with Fyedka, a non-Jew. We talked about books, literature, great ideas, and fell in love. But Papa forbade us to see each other because Fyedka was not Jewish. I had to run away to get married by a priest. From then on, as far as Papa and Mama were concerned I was dead to them. For Papa, accepting my marriage would have meant denying his faith in Judaism. Even when all Jews were kicked out of our village and I came to say goodbye, they wouldn’t listen.” She sighed. “Sometimes love isn’t enough.”
The three ghosts and the two students stayed up late into the night talking. Finally Willow said, “I think I know what I need to do now. I need to show that Tara and I truly love each other, but in a way that does the least possible violation to tradition.”
The three ghosts agreed and vanished with the words “Mazel Tov, good luck” fading with them.
As soon as Shabbas ended, Willow got on the telephone. “Mommy, I know you wanted to know what I want for Hanukkah. It’s your love and understanding when I give you your Hanukkah present, the chance to meet someone very important in my life. Her name is Tara. She is my everything.”