LITERATURE and READING COMPREHENSION
In the Hebreo we had a variety of literature in English class:
Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom,
“Prisoner without a Name, Cell without a Number“ by Jacobo Timerman and his prison experience in Argentina, as well as an account of Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia.
And lots of Short Stories including Zlateh, the Goat and other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer,
“Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell,
Sundry stories by Edgar Allen Poe,
“The Gift of the Magi” “Ransom of Red Chief” by O’Henry, and many more.
I was prone to choose literature that would be thought provoking or a challenge to the students to confront situations with ethical considerations. At one point I gave them a TIME magazine article that suggested that planet earth was facing serious challenges to its longevity. At another point, when discussing the Holocaust and anti-semitism, I suggested that perhaps someday the United States would become a difficult place filled with anti-semitism. NO WAY, they all cried. That was impossible. Of course, it was only the 80’s, some 40 years ago now. Sadly, things have changed.
Raquel Perszek, Class of ’89, says that our literature class was her salvation in the CCH. The “Lord of the Flies” kept her engaged while other subjects bored her.
Vicky Calef, Class of ’90, made a revealing comment about “The Hiding Place” on her final exam: “I didn’t know that there were non-Jews who risked their own lives for the Jews during the Holocaust!” Since then, of course, this has now become well known, and Yad VaShem in Jerusalem honors Corrie ten Boom as one of the Righteous Among the Gentiles. She is one of many who has a tree planted in her honor there.
Yet, every class had a wise guy.
The second time I didn’t understand.
Some people read the assignments. Some did not. Moris Guterman was an ingenious reader. “Moris, did you read the chapter?” “I read it twice,” he answered. “The second time I didn’t understand it.” No further questions. He also had a good smile. Though, more of a smirk and a chuckle, I should say.