3: Text excerpt, Glenn Dynner’s "Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland," 2013.
In his study of Jewish tavern-keeping in the Kingdom of Poland, Glenn Dynner probes the many ways in which the (Jewish-run) tavern was a place that blurred boundaries: between Jews and Christians (both peasants and nobility), men and women, lawful and criminal conduct, drunkenness and sobriety.
Suggested Activity: First, students should read the short passage from Dynner’s book. Ask them what happens in a tavern (as described by Dynner), what sort of space it is, and what sort of behavior can happen there. From there, you can ask them questions to help them recall what happens in the tavern scene in chapter 8 of Romance of a Horse Thief. For instance: why does Zanvl go to the tavern? Who does he encounter there? What do they do? Why might it be important that this scene takes place in a tavern? Can you imagine these characters meeting in a different location?
If time permits, ask: What is the significance of the tavern scene for the novella as a whole? How do the tavern, wedding, and brothel scenes represent different spaces where characters come into contact with each other in transgressive ways? In what way do these spaces differ? In what ways are they similar?
Source: Glenn Dynner, Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 17–18.