An American in 1938
Contextualize the experience of Americans in the late 1930s by highlighting the social and economic facts of the day and examining news artifacts from the era.
Students will watch a short film about the idea of Blood Libel. To accompany this video, students will read short stories about how Blood Libel was used to blame Jews for incidents in the community.
Blood libel grew out of an ancient accusation and has been carried by antisemitic ideology for centuries.
Lead a short 5-minute discussion about antisemitic ideas commonly found today. Examples of topics include the ideas that Jews killed Jesus, Jews control money and the media, Jews have split-loyalty to Israel, and blood libel.
Watch the short film about blood libel by Facing History and Ourselves.
In small groups of 3-5, have students read the four contemporary short stories of blood libel. Ask the groups to take notes on similarities in each story.
Lead a class discussion on blood libel. Ask the students what similarities and differences they found within the stories they read, and what they thought reactions by local Christians were to accusations of blood libel. In particular, make sure to point out the fact that most of these stories are recorded by poets and folklorists – not necessarily told as first-hand accounts. Ask students why they think people believe in blood libel, and how dangerous and powerful a lie can be as it persists over time.
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