Learning Activity 3: What Happens When a People's Way of Life (Ways of Marking Time and Events) is Stripped Away?
|An early Bundist group in Rovno, Ukraine, ca. 1905 (YIVO Institute for Jewish Research)
The Role of Memory Revisited
1. Begin by reminding students of the last activity's focus on calendars and rituals as ways of marking time and creating memory for individuals, families, communities, and cultures. Ask one of the students to read the Oliver Sacks excerpt aloud once more.
2. Next, ask the class to think about the Sacks article and the role that memory plays in individuals. Have them view the multimedia presentation on Forced Conversions.
3. Ask the class: What role do you think memory plays in the stories and histories of people? Cultures? Societies? Nations? Discuss.
Marranos: The Secret Jews
1. Play the multimedia presentation Marranos for the class and discuss with them several of the Inquisition records that appear at the end of the presentation. Have students consider the impact the expulsions and forced conversions had on the Jews of Spain. The critical message in this segment is that in the space of just a few generations, without the cultural tools - books, language, rituals, observances, etc. - to sustain them, the Jews of Spain lost much their cultural knowledge. The irony is that they reclaimed it through reading Inquisition records.
2. Distribute copies of the Expulsion of the Jews (PDF) handout to the class. Play the multimedia presentation Jewish Communities and ask students to take notes as they watch, considering these questions:
3. Have students divide into groups and discuss the presentation, using the above questions as a focus for the discussion. Ask students to write a reflective journal entry, either in class or at home, about these Heritage presentations, drawing on their responses to the questions on the handout.
- What became of the Jews who left Spain?
- How were they able to hold on to their centuries-old traditions?
- What did you learn from these presentations? What was most surprising to you?
- What conclusions can you draw about what is necessary for a people to maintain their identity? A culture? A nation?
- Can you draw any parallels between the Spanish Inquisition's expulsion of the Jews and any other events in the history of the world? Explain.