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Poetry Question

1. For this assignment, you are expected to write an essay based on this scenario:

You are Ariel Abravanel, the descendant of Sephardi Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. Your maternal ancestor drowned at sea when a ship captain promised her and her family safe passage and then tossed them overboard along with other Sephardi Jews who were fleeing their homeland. Your paternal ancestor somehow survived this perilous voyage, made his way to the Ottoman Empire, remarried, and raised his family there. Your paternal ancestor and his new family thrived in the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey) and eventually their children and grandchildren settled in Amsterdam, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles, where you and your family now live. You learn that the Spanish government has a program for Sephardi Jews to apply for citizenship if they can trace their Spanish lineage back to the 15th century or earlier. You raise this issue with your spouse, who opposes applying for Spanish citizenship, and your two children. One argues that applying for citizenship is a good idea and the other is opposed to this.


Note the following as you do research and write your essay:

There is no right or wrong answer to the questions raised in this scenario. Share you opinion on what you would do and be sure to support your view with insights gleaned from our study-abroad program and your own independent research on this contentious issue.
Here are some of the issues you should address in your essay:
Your spouse says that there is no way Spain can ever properly make amends for the terrible trauma of expelling your ancestors in 1492, and says, “It’s a cheap way to buy us off!”
Your child who favors applying for citizenship says that Spain is trying to do the right thing 500+ years after the expulsion. She is also excited about the prospect of getting a European Union (EU) passport which will open doors for her and the entire family.
Your child who opposes applying for citizenship has done some research and learned that many people who have tried to “prove” their Sephardi roots have been denied Spanish citizenship for a variety of bureaucratic and other reasons. He says, “Why bother with this when they are probably going to turn us down anyway?”
2. Your assignment is to write a minimum 16-line poem dealing with one of the topics/themes we encountered in our course on the culture, history, and faith of Jewish Spain. In your poem, you must include vivid imagery, specific and descriptive word choice, at least 3 poetic devices, and a thoughtful title. One session will be set aside for a workshop to begin to craft your poem. You have until June 15 to edit and revise and perfect it before submitting a final version.
Remember: These poems will be published in the class poetry Chapbook.

Possible Topics: Maimonides and “The Guide for the Perplexed,” Rambam, “the Golden Age,” the Expulsion, Jewish art and architecture, Jewish poetry/specific poems, Shabbat in Spain, Las Letres neighborhood, medieval Spain, the Zohar, Isabella and Ferdinand, convivencia, conversos, the Inquisition, origins of Christian antisemitism. You can choose your own topic as long as it relates to the course.

Poetic devices: simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia, pun, oxymoron, symbolism, hyperbole – If you don’t know what these are look them up!

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