DAYTON CHRISTIAN JEWISH DIALOGUE

Minutes of Meeting

July, 2002

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      Thank you to Brother Alex Tuss, our presenter, a Daytonian and Marianist Professor for over 20 years:  B.Sc., U.D., ‘71. M.A. U.D., ‘77.  Ph.D. Eng. Lit. ‘91.  He taught in Marianist high schools for 10 years, and is currently teaching.  He has published two books, Inward Resolution and Caverns of the Night.

      Thank you to Phillis Straka for her personalized devotional and for the goodies!

     Thank you to Lillian Gillespie for combining her exceptional leadership skills with such a gentle spirit in behalf of our Dialogue.

Date:  July 14, 2002

Location:  U.D. Alumni Hall

Room 101

Topic:  Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

Speaker:  Brother Alex Tuss    

Host  &  Devotions:  Phillis Straka

Members Present:  24

Guests:  6

Phillis Straka brought the devotions in the form of a song that she had written on her personal journey, sharing her heart and her philosophy with us.

The song led perfectly into our topic for the evening, as Brother Alex Tuss led the group into thinking about words from the play,  The Merchant of Venice.

Brother Tuss explained that Shakespeare never portrays his characters in black and white but uses shades of gray to delineate, because the human condition is not that simple.  He stated that Shakespeare is not polemical in his plays but that he holds up a mirror to human nature.  Giving us some of the history of poets in world civilizations, Brother Tuss mentioned the two opposing viewpoints of Plato and Aristotle regarding poets:  Plato held that poets must be expelled because they have enough power in their words to upset the state, while Aristotle regarded the function of poets as enabling catharsis of the soul, therefore being a source for good in a society... calming the very social forces that Plato feared would erupt out of the theater and into the streets.

Brother Tuss gave some of the history of the day in which Shakespeare created his plays.  And he also mentioned some of the names of famous actors who had played Shylock in past decades.  There are Jewish directors who have cast Jewish actors in this role.  Videos are available of some recent productions.  The speaker said that Shakespeare has allowed actors great freedom of interpretation in playing their roles.  He stated that Shakespeare liked to “confound and contradict” his audiences through his characterizations in his plays. 

Recent history shows that the Nazis had produced The Merchant of Venice on stage fifty-five times while Vienna was Judenrein, using it stereotypically to support and promote their genocidal perversions.

Several in the Dialogue voiced their viewpoints of Shakespeare’s characterization of Shylock.  Eric said he doesn’t ever want to be identified with Shylock, and that Shylock should never be held up as a characterization of his people.  Someone said that Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, is part of the Medieval legacy of the anti-Semitism that has infected history and continues to afflict people in  our global civilization today.  Shirley mentioned that it is now dangerous to wear a yarmulke on the streets of London.  Lorraine’s view was that the play not only stereotyped the character of Shylock but that the Judaic faith also became stereotyped as a religion of law, placing Christianity antithetically as a religion of mercy.

Some questions arose as to the impact literature had in bringing about the Shoah.  Is it morally defensible to produce plays or other bodies of literature that have the power to arouse anti-Semitic reactions in those who are susceptible to that persuasion?

Jerry said that the stereotypical radio program of the 30’s and 40’s called “Amos ‘n Andy” could not be broadcast today because the whole of society wouldn’t allow it. 

Eileen’s thought came as a personal revelation, that, because Shakespeare’s England did not permit Jewish residence at that time, the playwright could not have experienced personal acquaintance.  And there is no historic record that he traveled.  Therefore he must have culled his stereotypical Shylock from the common Christian viewpoint of his day.

Thought For The Month

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:  It blesseth him that gives and him that takes... In the course of justice, none of us should see salvation.  We do pray for mercy, And that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.” Shakespeare.

The Merchant of Venice, ACT III, Scene II

 

Please come to the Planning Meeting on Sunday, August 4th at 7:30 P.M. We will be meeting at the Garfunkel’s:  5593 Mad River Rd. Go west on Whipp Rd. from Far Hills Avenue, then south on Mad River Rd. about 1/4 mile.  The phone number is 434-5976.

Dialogue Schedule

Date and Time:  Sunday, August 11, 2002, 5:00 P.M.

Program Topic:  Sharing:  Why we’re here and where we’re going.

Program Host/Speaker:  Lillian Gillespie

Location:  655 Ridgedale, Dayton

Devotions:  Lillian Gillespie

Refreshments: Carry-in Picnic

 

Date and Time:  Sunday, September 8, 2002, 7:30 P.M.

Topic to be arranged

Location:  U.D. Alumni Hall Room 101

 

Date and Time:  Sunday, October 13, 2002, 7:30 P.M. 

Topic to be arranged.

Location:  7455 Elru Dr., Dayton

Devotions:  Jerry and Lorraine Kotler

Refreshments:  Jerry and Lorraine Kotler

 

Date and Time:  Sunday, November 10, 2002, 7:30 P.M.

Topic to be arranged

Location:  U.D. Alumni Hall Room 101

Devotion:  Felix and Erika Garfunkel

Refreshments: Felix and Erika Garfunkel

 

Date and Time:  Sunday, December 8, 2002, 7:30 P.M.

Topic to be arranged

Location:  U.D. Hall room 101

Devotions:  Fr. Bert Buby

Refreshments:  Eileen Moorman and Shirley Flacks

Respectfully submitted,

Donna Bealer, Secretary

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