Educator’s Guide to “Siren”: Exploring Israel’s Memorial Days through Film

Educator’s Guide to “Siren”: Exploring Israel’s Memorial Days through Film

As we approach Yom HaZikaron, here’s an educator’s guide prepared by Ittay Flescher on the short film, “Siren”.

You can watch the film on IZZY, a new streaming service that’s looking to give people a “front-row seat” to Israel with unique and colorful storytelling on this country’s rich culture and history.

Synopsis:

“Tsfira” (“Siren”) follows the adventures of Eli, an Israeli high school kid who tries to find his place in society during Israel’s Memorial Week for the victims of the Holocaust and fallen soldiers.

Why you should watch it: 

“Tsfira” (“Siren”) is one of the most popular stories by Etgar Keret and is required reading in most Israeli high schools.

The siren – the official, legitimate, state-mandated manner of mourning, of remembrance – is what Keret continually questions in his stories, what he continually forces his readers to rethink.

The boy who steals from a Holocaust survivor also obediently, without thinking, without being watched or told, stands at attention for the memory of the fallen soldiers of his country – a country that was created in part to ensure there would never be a second Holocaust.

The story of what Israel is, what it could be, and what it should be, is told more fluently in this five-page story (and now a short film) than in most other hundred-odd paged novels or works of sociology.

Questions:

  1. How do you mark Yom Hashoah and Yom HaZikaron in your community? In what way does the manner in which we remember our past shape our present identity? 
  2. After the Yom HaShoah ceremony, Eli sees Sholem, the school’s janitor, crying. During the Holocaust he was a Sonderkommando, a death camp prisoner whose task was to dispose of dead bodies, and now, during Remembrance Day, he is full of pain and memories. Eli is unfamiliar with the term Sonderkommando and thinks it means that Sholem served in the naval commando – which he finds difficult to believe, since Sholem looks weak and forlorn. In what way is Eli’s lack of knowledge about the Shoah reflective of a growing trend of forgetting in both Israel and abroad as few Holocuast survivors remain to share their testimonies?
  3. The film deals with universal issues of teenage love, jealousy, revenge, and loyalty, yet places them in a uniquely Israeli context. Do you view this film as more of a teenage crush story that could happen anywhere in the world or a story that could only happen in a Jewish State?
  4. Siren brings two prototypes of Israeli masculinity according to scholar Adia Mendelson-Maoz; the sensitive narrator, Eli, and the tough, intimidating Sharon. These are prototypes of many of Keret’s characters. Why do you think Keret actively chooses the unstable, weak and cowardly version of masculinity as the hero? What message is he trying to send about Israel?

Coming Soon: Stay tuned as we release more educator’s guides to Izzy Stream’s movies and TV shows!

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