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September 23, 2022 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Friday Noon Study Group October 7 12-1
Last week, as we looked at the final two chapters of The Last of the Just, we continued to explore the motivations behind Ernie Levy’s behavior. Why does Ernie abandon the relative safety of unoccupied France for a situation that is far more dangerous for him? Why does he petition for admission to the Drancy concentration camp? As one character asked: “It wasn’t enough that you were Jewish . . . but you had to come straight to the camp?” We speculated upon some of the following explanations:
Ernie may have been deranged by trauma (PTSD).
He deliberately chose to act irrationally in an irrational world; he “risked death with that logic”
He was suffering from a savior complex, or white knight syndrome, a need to “save” people by fixing their problems?
He hasn’t shaken the delusion, begun in childhood, that he is a lamed vovnik.
He genuinely was a lamed vovnik: “A Jewish heart must break a thousand times for the good of all people.”
He is genuinely in love with Golda, or is it pity?
He has learned that empathy/compassion for others (the care he shows toward Golda; toward the orphaned children) is a source of a “nameless intoxication” that creates “a strange peace in him”
He is united with the Jewish people
This Friday, we’ll conclude our discussion of Schwarz-Bart’s novel with another look at the “strange peace” that Ernie experiences (pp. 356-357). We’ll then address some of the criticisms that a British rabbi/psychotherapist lodged about Schwarz-Bart’s concepts regarding Jewish suffering and his anti-Christian attitudes. We’ll close by sharing any final thoughts we have on the novel.
Our study group will not meet on Fridays October 14, 21, and 28. We will resume on Friday, November 4, with a new topic: Thomas Cahill’s The Gifts of the Jews: How a tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.