Essay on Judaism in William Finn's Falsettoland

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Judaism in William Finn's Falsettoland

Judaism and Jewish culture have always been central to William Finn, writer of a trilogy of short works following Marvin, a homosexual living within the Jewish faith. Falsettoland itself forms the final part of the trilogy whilst In Trousers and March of the Falsettos are the first two instalments respectively. Christianity condemns homosexuality within its faith, therefore, surely Judaism would take a moral stand and condemn any theatrical portrayal of such events? Did the Reform movement which began to grow in America in the 1830s have any effect upon the time Falsettoland was written, and, if so, how was
Falsettoland as a music theatre work subject to such effects?

From the outset it
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There was a sense of community rather than a religious longing and yearning to return to Palestine. Reform Jews were considered to be more of a social gain than a religious cult, some even saw the Reform movement as bringing Judaism ‘up to date’. It is difficult to determine the type of Judaism represented in Falsettoland as no explicit references are made, however, throughout the course of this paper, the use of features of both traditional Orthodox Judaism and Reform Judaism suggest that Falsettoland depicts a hybrid of the two.

Judaism in America began growing in the 1830s when the Jews of Germany began to arrive on American soil. An important factor in the Jewish immigration is that these Jews were either Reform Jews or were secular
Jews who had, for whatever reason, dropped Judaism altogether. In New
York the Lower East Side of Manhattan quickly became the most populated Jewish area, however, the more successful Jew moved to live on the Upper East Side. The founder of the American Reform Movement was Isaac Meyer Wise who himself was a German immigrant. In 1875 the
Hebrew Union College opened in Ohio and made history by serving untraditional, treyf food. The German immigrants built Temple Emanuel, the largest reform synagogue in the world and by 1880 (50 years after the influx) there were about 200 synagogues in America alone with the majority being Reform.

In opposition were the traditional Jews; those who were

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