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The Lion Seeker
"Here is the South African novel I've been waiting for." - Lynn Freed
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What does the Jewish faith mean to the main characters? Whose faith changes the most? Why?

Created: 08/24/14

Replies: 6

Posted Aug. 24, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1336

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What does the Jewish faith mean to the main characters? Whose faith changes the most? Why?

Religion provides meaning in the Helger family. What does the Jewish faith mean to Gitelle, Abel, Isaac, and Rively? How are they the same? Different? Whose faith changes the most? Why?


Posted Sep. 04, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paml

Join Date: 10/25/12

Posts: 66

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RE: What does the Jewish faith mean to the main characters? Whose faith changes the most? Why?

The Jewish faith is what drives this novel and the characters. Their culture, their beliefs and religious practices and the importance of family. Gitelle feels such responsibility to remove her family from harm that she becomes sick with worry. This responsibility is passed on to her son Isaac. Abel seems quiet and steadfast in his beliefs. It is more personal to him. I believe that Avrom changes the most. He gives away his money and power. He admits he was wrong. " It's money that eats you up here, not lions." He lives a very different life at the end of the novel.


Posted Sep. 04, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
RebeccaF

Join Date: 08/24/14

Posts: 12

RE: What does the Jewish faith mean to the main characters? Whose faith changes the most? Why?

If Isaac had remained a practicing Jew, I think he would have had a happier life - more fulfilled, more connected to his family and his ancestors. Instead, his Judaism was just like a racial marker that he resented because it earned him persecution. It seemed significant that he was the only one in his immediate family who didn't attend synagogue on holy days.


Posted Sep. 07, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mal

Join Date: 09/09/13

Posts: 155

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RE: What does the Jewish faith mean to the main characters? Whose faith changes the most? Why?

The Jewish faith is paramount in this novel. Isaac should have pursued and practiced his faith diligently, obviously something was missing for him, pretty sure with strong faith he would have had peace, stronger familia pull too.


Posted Sep. 08, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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pauj

Join Date: 04/26/14

Posts: 27

RE: What does the Jewish faith mean to the main characters? Whose faith changes the most? Why?

I think that Isaac did have a version of "faith"; he had values and things he believed strongly in, they just didn't happen to coincide with religious practices. I don't think he saw value in pursuing the jewish practices, except in rare instances where his values were concerned, such as love for his mother. He had strong desires to be original and true to himself, which he didn't see rote religious practices as a means to get there. Of course in a number of instances he compromised his values. But I think toward the end, he becomes more religious in his own way.


Paula J
Posted Sep. 12, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
roberts

Join Date: 08/20/13

Posts: 31

RE: What does the Jewish faith mean to the main characters? Whose faith changes the most? Why?

Their Judaism (both religious and cultural) informed each member of the Helger family's view of the world at large, their own world, each other and of themselves. Abel lived his faith through his strict adherence to traditional Jewish law, commitment to hard work and family and acceptance of his modest life without coveting property or wealth. Gitelle expressed her Jewishness with her drive to save her Lithuanian family and to push Abel and Isaac to financial success. Gitelle was no less traditional than Abel but could not bring herself to enter the synagogue after the personal horror she experienced during the pogrom. Rively expressed her faith through her Zionism. Issac's faith was the most complex. Although not traditionally religious, Isaac had a Jewish heart which he expressed through his relationship with his parents and sister, dedication to his labor and even his forgiveness of Hugo and Meyer.


Posted Sep. 25, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
RebeccaF

Join Date: 08/24/14

Posts: 12

RE: What does the Jewish faith mean to the main characters? Whose faith changes the most? Why?

Isaac seems to be pretty cynical about faith in general. I thought this passage from his perspective might express some of his frustration with God (or perhaps his misunderstanding that faith is all about performing a few ritual acts in order to get what you want from a deity): "God doesn't bless, instead He seems to have noticed that it's been a bad day for Isaac Helger and decides to add to its gloom by muffling the morning sun with black and purple thunderclouds and a scratching wind. The bruised sky starts to spit on him" (423).


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