Books and Movies Reviews

Ashur Lev

As I approached the end of the novel, My Name is Asher Lev, I began to think about the relevance of the story which I had just read. I felt very connected to the book and could not discern why it was affecting me in such an intense fashion. Initially I believed this feeling to be a connection to my experiences growing up within Judaism, but that explanation did not satisfy my curiosity. I turned the lights off to go to sleep. As I lay in bed and stared at the glow-in-the-dark stars on my wall, I had a revelation. I remembered reading Lois Lowry's The Giver back in eighth grade. I saw a correlation between the two novels. I decided that the Hasidic community which Asher Lev lives in is truly a utopian society.
I researched Hasidism a bit and discovered that it is a branch of Judaism that believes that God is everywhere. Because God is everywhere, Hasidic Jews feel no need for despair or unhappiness. They strongly embrace joyous dancing and prayer because they feel they can best serve God by being full of joy. They are a tight knit society which supports each other and makes sure none of their societal members are starving. The perfection which Hasidic Jews strive for is slightly different than other forms of utopia; Complete faith and wholly serving God is the ultimate goal.
In the novel, The Giver, Lowry describes a society in which there is complete harmony with nature and the surroundings as well as in government, social interaction, and every other possible thing. In order to reach this goal where everyone was always happy, the society had to "give up" the arts, colors, and intense emotions. I have seen a direct parallelism between the two societies.
In Lowry's world, the characters do not truly understand the feeling of love or hate. They can not recognize that they feel these emotions. When Jonas, the main character, asks his parents if they love him, they say that they obviously love their son. Jonas…


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