Exploring the Short Stories of S.Y. Agnon

February 10, 2019 - 10:00am - 11:30am
Murray & Nettie Kaye Social Hall (East Side)

Discussion leader: Bob Gerwin (bbgerwin [at] gmail [dot] com or 301-728-7260)

Future Sessions: Sunday, January 6, & Sunday, February 10, 10:00-11:30 AM

Sunday, January 6; 10:00-11:30 AM: Agnon’s Short Story, From Lodging to Lodging (Mi-dirah le-dirah) (1939)

“It is easier for a man to grow wings and fly than to…” Where is home and what makes a home? Why do we choose one home rather than another? Why does the narrator choose a noisy, narrow, low-ceiling room in a hot, noisy city? Because of a child, a sick, groaning, awkward child whose cries and groans are dearer than all the music in the world. This modern story written by Agnon in 1939 and published in the collection of Agnon’s stories entitled The Book of Deeds could take place in any year, in any city, though it takes place in Tel Aviv at an unspecified time. The story can be found in S.Y. Agnon, Twenty-one Stories published by Schocken. Copies of the story are also available on the table outside of the sanctuary.

The  Stories of Agnon

Sunday, February 10; 10:00-11:30 AM: Agnon’s Short Story, Herndat the Cantor

This is a Rabelaisian tale of a corpulent cantor who takes advantage of the rabbinic edict to eat and drink before the fast day of Yom Kippur. Eat and drink he does, to outrageous excess, as if there will be no end to eating. There is a play on the words Purim and Yom Kippurim suggesting that an element of the carnivalesque nature of Purim attaches itself to the Day of Atonement. There is also the lost and the found soul in this tale. Finally, the frivolity of excess is mystically turned about at the end and gives way to the transcendent sacred nature of the Holy day. One can read in this story both the absurdity of the community and the sanctity of the town of Buczacz. (My thanks to Rabbi Jeffrey Saks for his commentary on this story). 

This story can be found in Forevermore & Other Stories,  S.Y. Agnon,   Toby Press. Copies of the story will also be available on the table outside the sanctuary. The discussion will be moderated by Bob Gerwin (bbgerwin@gmail,com; 301 728 7260).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Everyone is invited. Each discussion is self-contained, so that it is not necessary to attend each session in order to participate, although attending each one would certainly be enriching. For more information, call Bob Gerwin, 301-728-7260 or email at bbgerwin [at] gmail [dot] com

Ohr Kodesh Congregation

8300 Meadowbrook Lane
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Phone: (301) 589-3880
Fax:  (301) 495-4801

Email: executivedirector@

Map & Directions

Map and Directions to Ohr Kodesh