"To me, Julie Andrews will always be Jewish"
Schmoozing with the Von Trapps
by Danny Miller
The Sound of Music? Come on! Don’t you think that for a story about Nazis and World War II, Jewish people are curiously absent? There is not a single mention of a Jew in the stage play or the film. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the worst thing the Nazis did during the war was to force families to sing at music festivals dressed in their old bedroom curtains.
... Throughout my initial viewings of the film, I searched in vain for a single mention of Jews. Had Hollywood succeeded where Hitler had failed? Was their version of Europe Judenfrei — completely free of Jews?
If Jewish director Robert Wise didn’t feel the need to include Jews in this story, I felt I had no choice but to find my own.
... In my hunt for Jews in The Sound of Music, I finally decided that Maria herself must be Jewish. Maria/Mary was obviously a front for the name she was born with: Miriam. "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" the nuns sing early in the film, evoking the Nazi rhetoric about "the Jewish problem." Indeed, I came to believe that the problem of Maria was that she was a Jewess masquerading as a nun.
... On her first day [in the von Trapp household] the children drop a frog in their new governess’ pocket and put a pinecone on her chair which makes her jump up and yelp in pain. Instead of punishing the little devils or telling their father, Maria thanks fhe children profusely for the kind, welcoming behavior. By the end of her speech, all seven are reduced to tears. Maria’s skill at producing guilt in others was another sure sign that she was Jewish.
How I envied the seven von Trapp children as they began to blossom under Maria’s loving Yiddishkeit...
Whether or not [Georg] should love her? Was this a reference to the Nuremberg laws, now in effect in Nazi Austria, that prohibited Aryans from marrying Jews? It’s true that as soon as the two get married, nothing but trouble follows. They return from their honeymoon to find a giant Nazi flag hanging in their doorway ... Oy, has Maria brought all this tsuris on her new family?
In films and in life, Julie Andrews seemed to embody all of the qualities of the aishet chayil (women of valor) we studied in Hebrew School. She was kind, strong, confident, and never afraid to speak her mind. Though she may be considered the quintessential shiksa to the rest of the world, to me Julie Andrews will always be Jewish.
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