The aim of this enrichment activity is to provide the students with a better perspective on Jewish history and their place in the story. N.B. The activity is largely based on the Agnon story, The Lady and the Peddler. If the story is not available, it is possible to use the part of the activity that is connected with Beit Hatfutzot.

  • At the end of the previous class, tell the students that you are going to give them a great Jewish vampire tale, from an original Hebrew story by the outstanding twentieth-century Hebrew writer, Shai Agnon. Give them the story to read at home. Students should read the story by themselves before the class starts.
  • At the beginning of the class, ask for the students’ reactions to the story. Did they like it or find it interesting? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Divide the students into small groups. Explain to them that the story is actually an allegory, i.e. a story in code, and briefly explain this concept to them. The students’ task is to try to crack the code and explain what Agnon means.
  • Bring the class back together and discuss the interpretations that they offer, adding in suggestions according to the previous analysis. What is Agnon’s message? At the end of the discussion, ask the students to guess when the story was written. Explain that it was written in 1943. Is this co-incidental? Then ask them why they think a writer like Agnon might use the allegorical technique in order to convey his message.
  • How do the students react to this message? How do they think they might have reacted in 1943? Are there any who think that the message was acceptable in 1943 but is not acceptable now? Why?
  • Mention the design of Beit Hatfutzot. Ask the students how they understand the message of the design of the museum. What message is the museum trying to convey? N.B. The message of Beit Hatfutzot is not identical to that of the Agnon story, but there are clearly similarities. Would the students change the design if they were designing such a museum?
  • Ask the students to write a letter to Agnon commenting on the story, or a letter to the management of Beit Hatfutzot commenting on the design of their building.
  • Bring the students together and read out some of their letters.




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10 Dec 2006 / 19 Kislev 5767 0