Friday, May 11, 2012

Final Reflection of Jewish Literarture 2012

David Mamet examines the roll of being a jew amidst gentiles in his play Goldberg Street;  it is not that we want to be strange, it is that we are strangers in a land not of our own making, and one where at any time someone can attack us for being the JEW.   The JEW is the perfect foil, the scape goat for all that ills a society; because they stand out separated from others.   This separation is not of their own choosing.

Elizabeth Swados celebrates the story-telling tradition found in Jewish lives through out time in her play Esther.  Purim, to her, is the time that  
"And nothing is more gratifying for a teller of tales than to bring together people... people of distant generations and contemporaries.... Hassidim and philosophers...poets and dreams... Jews and Christians...students and teachers...and Republicans!  They are all prone to fall under the spell of certain words and they are intrigued by the density of certain silences.  There is nothing like a good story." pg 11

 I love how she plays with the traditions of Purim.  She incorporates the holiday into acts of her play.  For instance when Haman reveals his plot to kill the Jews, she has Haman say, "Shake those shakers when you hear Haman's name.  Let's shake those shakers."  I remember the noise makers of the holiday and how much joy I got from shaking them.   I loved the carnival like atmosphere that was created at my childhood synagogue, Har Ha Shem (in Boulder Colorado).

Ultimately, Purim is not so much a tale about these things as it is a celebration of memory.  Let us celebrate.  Let us remember those who suffer.  Let us remember every second of our tiny, but significant joys and let us grow generous and strong.
pg 81.

Sholom Aleichem utilizes the bible in his every day thinking, and is pensive with care.  The traditions are much more than a holiday off from school.  They are an integral part of everyday life in Yidsburough.  He, like a good Jewish Son, has memorized the torah and has written its words on his heart.   He also grasps with great care the character of his mother, and of his father. He knows how to tell the truth and still honor the beauty that is at the core of his parents. We, the reader, are given a glimpse into the private life of Yiddish Families.
There does not seem to be a fourth wall between the readers and the writer, as he talks directly to us: "but the one who is not should read with care, for its essential that he know who Buzie is."
shares the complexity of being Jewish in a small Jewish community.  He shares the complex networks and class divisions in the small town.  The synagogues in the story are not one but multiple types. Each synagogue caters to the need of a certain segment of the Jewish Community;  there are synagogues to butchers, to bankers, to the pious, to the impious, to the rich and to the homeless.   The various prayers at the synagogues gather together into a cacophony of rich prayer to one God.  One reads of struggles, but feels the complete happiness that gathers beneath God's wings.

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