A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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EPISODE 38: A Sephardic Journey: Solly Lévy... From Morocco to Montréal
Directed by Don Winkler

SYNOPSIS

Director Donald Winkler, in his film A Sephardic Journey ... Solly Lévy from Morocco to Montréal takes the audience into the world of Solly Lévy, a Sephardic Jew who came to Canada from Morocco in 1968.

The camera follows Solly as he makes his way through his day. En route, we meet the four pillars of his life: Family, Religion, Education and Theatre. As we make this journey with Solly Lévy, it becomes apparent that one man can make a difference to the fabric of a nation, not through one great act, but through a thousand good deeds.

KEY IDEAS

  • The power of the written word to a culture.
  • The importance of theatre to the fabric of a society.
  • Dangers of blind nationalism.
  • Similarities between the French Canadian and the Jewish struggle in preserving a culture.

KEY TERMS

  • Sephardic Jew.
  • Morocco.
  • Theatre.
  • Six Day War.

OBJECTIVES

  • To explore the dangers and positive aspects of nationalism.
  • To learn the importance of the written word in how a culture defines itself.
  • To explore how theatre can be used to build bridges between different cultures.
  • To explore the similarities between the French Canadian and Jewish cultures.

ACTIVITIES

  1. Solly Lévy found that the theatre offered him a means to build bridges between communities. Form a group of five or six people and write (and perform) a one act play which reflects the reality and concerns of the community which you belong to. Consider that the teenage community is often made up of different cultures, or "communities" and address some of the tensions this sometimes creates

  2. Visit your local community theatre. Invite one of the actors to speak to your class to talk about the art of theatre and how it has affected his or her life.

  3. The Sephardic Jewish culture is very different from the Ashkenazic Jewish culture (from Eastern Europe) that many people are familiar with. Explore the history of the Sephardic Jewish culture, and if there is a Sephardic synagogue or community in your city, see if you can make contact with someone to learn more about their traditions.

  4. The implications of the "Six Day War" between Israel and her neighbours are still being felt today. Research the history of the "Six Day War" and study a map of the Middle East. Have there been any long term ramifications from this war?

  5. When Solly Lévy was asked what he would like to share with the people of Montréal he spoke of the Shofar, the Ram's Horn, which is blown at Rosh Hashana. The Shofar is a powerful symbol, a part of Solly Lévy's faith.

    1. Explore what symbols you have within your own culture. Which are important? What symbols are important to the Canadian culture?

    2. A few years ago there was a controversy in Canada about the RCMP uniform being adapted to accommodate officers who, though Canadian, were part of another culture as well, and therefore had certain dress codes. What were the concerns of both sides? How do you feel about this issue?

    3. How can national symbols be used in both positive and negative ways to both unite and divide people? Don't forget to consider the symbols of Nazi Germany in your discussion.

  6. Explore whether or not Canada generally, and Quebec specifically, are good places for immigrants and refugees to go if they want to preserve their traditional cultures.

  7. Many Jewish refugees who were refused entry into Canada during WWII were sent back to Europe and murdered. Today, Canada lets in many refugees who, like the Jews, would otherwise face discrimination, torture or death in their home countries. Research some of the recent waves of refugees (not immigrants) to Canada including their reasons for leaving their countries, and then discuss with your classmates what you think Canada's obligations are to the refugees of the world.

  8. In Toronto, there is an organization called Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture that work s with recent refugees to Canada who have been tortured in their home countries because of their political beliefs. Find out about CCVT and see if there is some volunteer project you can help with (they are always looking for toy donations for their Christmas party). Also, they have a collection of poems written by some of the refugees about their lives. If you can get some of these, read them aloud to your classmates.