I took my daughter and a friend to see a local amateur production of Fiddler on the Roof. The company, the British Light Opera Company (or ‘BLOC’, as they call themselves) are regular providers of excellent fare (they last put on a wonderful Mikado) and we were not disappointed on this occasion. In particular, Tony Lowe gave a wonderful performance as Tevye. The songs and the scenes stay in the memory, and though the plot is mostly light-hearted the underlying theme – persecution of the Jews in Tsarist Russia – is horribly serious. As I left I suddenly remembered a family holiday in the southern Czech Republic, in Bohemia, somewhere in the mid-1990s. We came across an abandoned Jewish cemetery in the middle of nowhere. Such haunting places are dotted all over central and eastern Europe (where they haven’t disappeared altogether). This one, with its shattered stones among giant trees, was sadly beautiful. Looking at the stones, I noticed that the name Löwy was repeated frequently. We had a friend, half-Danish, half-English, with the surname Lowy. Thinking it a coincidence, I took photographs of the gravestones to show her when next we were in London. She looked through them, getting sadder and sadder. ‘That was my grandparents’ village,’ she said. ‘They were all chased out.’ Until that moment, I had not known of my friend’s Jewish ancestry, but suddenly I understood the immense pain shared throughout the diaspora.