Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Stuff of Communal Identity

Earlier today, as I was walking by the school for children with severe learning impediments that's around the corner, a child was chatting with the school guard. During the brief moment I was within earshot I picked up the stuttering child's story. "... he was the principle of an orphanage, and when they came they told him could go home now but he said No I want to die with them..."

Is there a Jew in Israel above the age of ten who wouldn't immediately recognize the story of Janusz Korczak? Is there one tenth of one percent of the college-educated adults in the rest of the world, Jews aside, who would recognize the story even if told in its entirety?

If you want to understand the communal identity of a society, talking to 12-year-old children with disabilities would probably be as good a place to start as any.


Anonymous said...

Only from this, unfortunately:
"Palle Granditsky as Dr. Janusz Korczak"

kai said...

So, it seems I'm one of those
1 per mille. But you're right, it's not common knowledge.