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A Musical Wedding Toast: To Life!

Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t Jewish; neither is his new wife, Vanessa. But the 30-year old Puerto Rican composer obviously has a taste for musicals: He’s best known for writing and starring in the popular Broadway musical In the Heights, which has won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Perhaps, then, it’s not all that surprising that he chose to surprise his wife with an enthusiastic rendition of Fiddler On the Roof’s “To Life” on their wedding day – but it sure is endearing.

YouTube tells me the video has enjoyed upwards of 2 million views since it was uploaded in September, which means everyone and their Jewish mother has probably seen it. In fact, it was my own Jewish grandmother who clued me into it over Thanksgiving. But I love it too much to let it go unpromoted: Surely it’ll make you smile as widely as it did me, especially when the groom’s father sings Yiddish with a rolling Puerto Rican accent!

I’ve seen Fiddler before, and even performed it in high school, but somehow, watching Lin-Manuel and his animated bridal party serenade Vanessa with their goofy, happy version of this song helped me actually connect with the lyrics: “And if our good fortune never comes, here’s to whatever comes. Drink l’chaim, to life!”

I’ll drink to that.

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3 Comments

Yes, the grooms father was singing in Russian. If i recall correctly, the story was set in Russia, with the cossacks and the pogroms they wrought upon the shtetls (very underplayed in the movie). One of Tevye's daughter's fell in love with a Russian (not Jewish) young fellow, creating great consternation. I do not recall the details, but this may have been considered in Lin's version here to his wife (Nazdrovye, is Russian, Lachaim, which is sung by the others is Yiddish. Not Vexman here, btw, his wife commenting. I tried to sign in with fb, but got this box saying i have to post as him.

Wonderful video, great. But except for the word "L'khayim", which is Hebrew, the other part of the toasting / dance was performed in the musical by Russian non-Jewish characters. Their singing includes Russian language words of toasting "nastrovya", etc. There is no Yiddish.

Unbelievable! It was not meant to be accurate, it was me to be fun. Get over yourself MOSHE!!!!!!!!!!!!

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How to cite this page

Bigam, Kate. "A Musical Wedding Toast: To Life!." 26 January 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 21, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/a-musical-wedding-toast-to-life>.

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