Course at Melton in March
In a series of articles, Melton teachers will discuss the fascinating courses they will be teaching in March.
Dr Ilan Buchman, writes about Israeli Literature as Window into Society which commences 8 March at Montefiore Home, Randwick …
The appetite for books in Israel of seven million people is prodigious. Israelis love to read. According to Daniel Kalder, a journalist and a researcher, 4.200 new titles are published each year while 35 million books are sold annually to over 4 million Hebrew readers. While it is generally known, that Israel produces more start-up companies per capita than Japan, India, Korea, Canada and Britain combined and has more than ten per cent of the world’s cyber-security, few are aware that the Israeli book publishing industry is equally impressive.
Melton’s course on Israeli Literature as a Window into Society is ideally placed to capture the diversity and richness of this society. Through guided discussions and self-reflection it aims to stimulate discussion and bring new insights into our understanding of Israel today.
Comprising much poetry and some prose, written by the leading Israeli writers, the course focuses on the contemporary and emerging realities since the establishment of the State.
No journey into the Israeli national psyche can however ignore the enduring trauma of the Holocaust. The course parallels this national tragedy in a series of personal poems and short stories dealing with this, arguably the greatest of catastrophes to affect the modern Jewish world. It is presented in the course as a literary March of the Living which ends in Jerusalem as a hopeful counterpoint to Jewish survival.
Jerusalem stands as a central focus and much of the course centres on this city, revealing the contradictory views of what it represents both to the writers and the readers alike.
From its inception, the idea of Tel Aviv as well as the city itself is the product of diverse cultural and ideological influences. The course examines the controversies surrounding the First Hebrew City and calls for a debate on whether the secularisation of Tel Aviv is a threat to the original culture or indeed its strength.
The wars of Israel and the sacrifice of lives made in them are a dominant part of the Israeli narrative. A series of selected texts examining the impact of the wars are represented in the course under the section of Pro Patria Mori. Among others it examines Nathan Alterman’s famous poem “The Silver Platter” which deals with the sacrifice and the high price paid in the loss of the society’s youth. The name of the poem has recently emerged as a cultural reference to a series of documentaries confronting the Israeli youth today.
Other course topics include among others, the women’s writing, the clash between the land and identities and revisiting the Zionist dream.
The course comprises ten meetings and examines over forty texts which should provide ample discussion and broaden our vision of the literary and societal challenges facing the contemporary State of Israel.