“Depictions of Jews in popular culture were rare sightings?” (“No Direction Home: ‘Fiddler’s’ Lessons,” Feb. 5.)
Not on the screen of the 1920s and early 1930s. Al Jolson and Molly Picon were as clearly Jewish in their public faces as Adam Sandler and Sarah Silverman are today. “The Cohens and Kellys” begat six sequels about its intermarried families. Max and Dave Fleischer’s Betty Boop was from a Jewish family like their own. The silence about Jewishness and ant-Semitism in films of the later 1930s and 1940s like ”Casablanca” and “The Life of Emile Zola” was a repudiation of their predecessors, of which “Fiddler on the Roof” augured a renaissance.