Agnon’s Home Town (October 6, 13, 20, 27 and November 3)
Midrash Agnon – English study sessions with R. Jeffrey Saks on Agnon’s writings. Stories of the Old World and Agnon’s ancestral Buczacz as depicted in his ‘Ir uMelo’ah. Live at Agnon House and online world-wide via WebYeshiva.org/Agnon – Sundays at 7:00pm Israel time. Participate in the course live in Agnon’s own house in Talpiot, Jerusalem, or via the simultaneous, interactive, online broadcast via WebYeshiva.org. (Sessions will be recorded and archived for those unable to join in “real time”). The course will cost $40. To pay, please choose from the options below. Choose One From the Options Below Agnon’s Home Town $40.00 USDA-Ag-Agn-Agno-Agnon and Rebbe Nachman $45.00 USDBoth Series $80.00 USD The cost of series for those participating at Beit Agnon is NIS40/per lecture or NIS160 for full 5-part series.
Agnon’s Home Town (October 6, 13, 20, 27 and November 3): Lesson 1
Introduction to Buczacz-In this series we’ll explore Agnon’s monumental work Ir uMelo’ah (A City and its Fullness) – which contains over 150 different stories of his Galician hometown of Buczacz. While the whole book has not been translated, many stories from it have been published in various English collections. We will also have access to not yet published translations of important stories which are set to appear in a forthcoming collection. For our first session please read the attached opening tale of the town’s founding, “Buczacz”. Like many of the stories we’ll be looking at, this translation is from the collection A Book That Was Lost, which we recommend purchasing (from Amazon(http://www.amazon.com/Book-That-Was-Lost-Classics/dp/1592642543/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1380271237&sr=8-2&keywords=a+book+that+was+lost) or available at the Agnon House). Please email me if you’d like a copy of the Hebrew original of the story – or purchase the entire Hebrew volume(http://www.schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=197&Page=). For those who can handle the Hebrew, compare this version of the tale with the short story “Kedumot” (in the links). Those who want some further background reading which will serve us throughout the series can check the following links: Buczacz (at Wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buchach)) Sefer Buczacz(http://buchach.org/book/) (a memorial volume published by townsmen, including Agnon, in 1956 – online with English translation) – see especially the chapter on the town history(http://buchach.org/book/jews.htm).
Agnon’s Home Town (October 6, 13, 20, 27 and November 3): Lesson 2
“The Tale of the Menorah”For our second session please read “The Tale of the Menorah” (pp. 241-254 in A Book That Was Lost). (http://www.amazon.com/Book-That-Was-Lost-Classics/dp/1592642543/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381087253&sr=1-2&keywords=a+book+that+was+lost) The story references the history of Buczacz and the interaction between the Jewish community and different non-Jewish authorities over many years. Again, see this essay (http://www.buchach.org/book/jews.htm)from the Sefer Buczacz for background to the town’s history. See also this link to the Israel Museum collection(http://www.imj.org.il/imagine/galleries/viewItemE.asp?case=34&itemNum=371778) for a picture of a similar menorah to that in our tale.
Agnon’s Home Town (October 6, 13, 20, 27 and November 3): Lesson 3
“The Frogs” The FrogsAgnon’s great satire, “The Frogs” – here in an experimental, not-yet published draft translation by the late and lamented Rabbi Jim Diamond z”l.(http://forward.com/articles/174154/jim-diamond-princeton-hillel-rabbi-dies-as-bizarre/?p=all) PLEASE DO NOT DISTRIBUTE THE DRAFT TO “OUTSIDERS’ NOT REGISTERED FOR OUR CLASS. Those of you who have read the story “Mazal Dagim” (“Pisces” in A Book That Was Lost,(http://www.webyeshiva.org/class/?material=2212) pp. 255-300), will see the parallels – but should also be able to appreciate the differences between the two stories, which really point in very seperate directions. In all cases, both stories are based on an actual 1864 case which appears in the responsa of Buczacz’s rabbi, R. Avraham Teumim in his Hesed LeAvraham II O.C. 26 (linked here). (http://www.webyeshiva.org/class/?material=4668)
Agnon’s Home Town (October 6, 13, 20, 27 and November 3): Lesson 4
The Parable and its Lesson: Discussion of the novella HaMashal vehaNimshal, one of Ir uMelo’ah’s most important and longest stories, forthcoming in translation as The Parable and its Lesson (click here for details(http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=23110) or here to pre-order from Amazon.com).(http://www.amazon.com/Parable-Its-Lesson-Novella-Stanford/dp/0804788723/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=) I have uploaded a draft copy NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION of sample chapters 1-3 (out of 27 chapters). We will be joined by Prof. Alan Mintz, who wrote the introduction and critical essay to the story, and has undertaken to prepare the fullest English edition of Agnon’s Ir uMeloa’h with scholarly commentary. I am attaching a copy of Alan’s recent essay on a different story from our collection, “HaHazzanim”. In addition to a summary and analysis of that still untranslated story, Alan deals with the central question (raised already in our first session) of the role of the narrator in Ir uMelo’ah. Email me (email@example.com)if you’d like a copy of the Hebrew story (on pp. 405-451 in Ir uMelo’ah).
Agnon’s Home Town (October 6, 13, 20, 27 and November 3): Lesson 5
The Sign”: For our concluding session, we’ll examining Agnon’s task of constructing a vessel for memory after the destruction of Buczacz, in his story “HaSiman” (which is set as the “finale” of Ir uMelo’ah). The story is translated as “The Sign” (in A Book That Was Lost(http://www.amazon.com/Book-That-Was-Lost-Classics/dp/1592642543/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382623200&sr=1-1&keywords=a+book+that+was+lost), pp. 327-429). Buczacz Holocaust Memorial The main “intertexts” for this story are two piyyutim (medieval religious poetry) by Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_ibn_Gabirol) – click here for a musical rendering of the piyyut “Shahar Avakeskha”. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXwwzjlYP5w) I have also uploaded a copy of Dan Laor’s essay, “Did Agnon Write About the Holocaust?”. Finally, here are links to the 2-part Agnon documentary that just aired on Israel’s Channel 1 (unfortunately without English subtitles): http://youtu.be/cfxHIjduOKA & http://youtu.be/JdddbXFtR POSTSCRIPT: After our course concluded I received a copy of Prof. Omer Bartov’s book Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine( http://www.amazon.com/Erased-Vanishing-Galicia-Present-Day-Ukraine/dp/069113121X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384068268&sr=8-1&keywords=bartov+erased)(Princeton, 2007). Descendant of native Buczaczers, Bartov deals with questions of how the Holocaust is remembered, mis-remembered, and forgotten on the ground in Buczacz and dozens of other Galician shtetls, towns, and cities. I have uploaded the chapter on Buczacz which serves as a sad coda to our course. PPS: See this article in The Forward which reported on this series (http://forward.com/articles/188377/remembering-israeli-literatures-only-nobel-laureat/?p=all) (December 6, 2013). THE NEXT AGNON LECTURES WILL BE A SIX-WEEK SERIES ON “AGNON AND REBBE NACHMAN OF BRESLOV” – starting Sunday, January 5, 2014. Click here for details.(http://www.webyeshiva.org/class/?cid=995)
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding director of ATID – The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, in Jerusalem, and its WebYeshiva.org program. He is the Editor of the journal Tradition, Series Editor of The S.Y. Agnon Library at The Toby Press, and Director of Research at the Agnon House in Jerusalem. A three-time graduate of Yeshiva University (BA, MA, Semicha), Rabbi Saks has published widely on Jewish thought, education, and literature (see www.webyeshiva.org/rabbisaks).