Palestinian Lit, Religion and more Tayla, 6.6.13

8 Jun

On Thursday we continued discussing in class with Professor Lefkovitz a series of writings by Palestinian writers and I have to say, the style of writing is really distinct and very interesting when you get the feel for it. The stories we discussed today are called The Bread of Sacrifice, and The Little One Goes to Camp. The two stories both deal with the idea of life as a Palestinian and do so in very interesting ways. The first story was an in your face, beat you over the head with it kind of story. The few metaphors employed were very obviously stated, the bread of sacrifice was an allusion to the bread of the last supper, the bread in the story was anointed in blood by a young Palestinian woman and was given up to the soldiers so that they may live another day. The story as I said was kind of in your face, hostile, and was overtly political.

the second story was more nuanced. The story was one big allegory about a family in what is referred to as “a time of fighting”. The young boy in the story finds 5 lyres and the whole family fights over how to split it up and who should get it. In the end the boys cousin steals it from him after the boy gets hit by a car, but they boy isn’t angry just sad he lost it. The lyre as a metaphor is great, its more subtle, lets you feel more for the characters and less like you’re reading a story intended to prove a point. 

The two stories led us into a discussion about what makes good literature. It was a cool discussion because here we all are coming from different backgrounds. We all are coming at the literature in different ways and that allows our class to have a really good active dialogue on just about everything. Its a good point to be made that not only the point of a piece is always up for discussion but also whether or not it is good or not can be debated based on where a reader is coming from.

Following the discussion of literature with Lori we had a talk by Lenny about the Abrahamic religions. He started with the rise of Christianity out of the temple period of ancient Judaism, proceeded to a discussion of rabbinic Judaism and then finished the course with a brief introduction to Islam. One of the takeaways of this talk was that all of the religions really are so very similar in their practices that it’s quite absurd for them to have such a history of fighting one another. Particularly when discussing Islam and Judaism. Islam was built on the foundation of Judaism and a lot of the practices were morphed from Judaism to simply be a more “pure” practice, which is what Islam prides itself on. A lot of the Pilliars of Islam are similar to some very important Jewish traditions like giving to the poor, and like Judaism its not about the charity coming from the heart its more about the act of doing it.  It was really great to spend a class on the religions that are all so related but in history are so divided.

The final part of our day was another tour with Tayla on Mount Olives. We started at the very top of the mountain and walked our way down. From the top was visible the Dome of the rock. Then we wound our way through a Jewish cemetery that is believed to be the best place to be buried for the return of the messiah, to the bottom where the Church agony (or Gethsemane) is where Judas betrayed Jesus. The thing that Tayla kept saying and the thing that I kept feeling was that this mountain represented a long history of people looking towards Jerusalem, the old City, and longing to be there. The Jews who long to be buried there, Christians who long to walk where Jesus walks and Muslims who believe that a bridge will be built from the Mount of Olives to the Dome of the Rock during the final Judgment believe it to be the site of the Messiah and the final Judgment. In all of these traditions this one mountain has become sacred, special and a place of waiting and longing.

The end of our day was in the old city for the City of Lights Festival, which is an art festival with installations all through the old city that are made of light and sound. Some were projections on the wall while other were actual light sculptures. The festival was a great way to end the day, there were vendors selling everything from popcorn to glow sticks in the city and tons of small kids running around excited. It was really cool to see all the amazing light sculptures around this ancient city. 

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