Topics for Discussion

  1. What kind of boy is Isaac? Does he fit the description of young Isaac in the introductory story, “Who I Am”? What are his main character traits?
  2. Isaac’s father, Rabbi Singer, does more than officiate at religious ceremonies. What are some of his other functions? Why does the woman come to him, for example, in “Why the Geese Shrieked”? What is a rabbinical court? How is it different from other courts?
  3. What attraction does the countryside have for young Isaac? Why does he love nature so much?
  4. What is the Cabala? Why are young boys such as Isaac not allowed to study it? When Isaac brags to his friends that he studies it, what aspect of his character is revealed?
  5. The customs and rites of Hasidic Jews may seem strange and exotic. Does Singer apologize for them, explain them, or simply present them as part of his stories? What did you learn about them?
  6. Many photographs are interspersed throughout the book. Do they “illustrate” the stories? If not, why are they there?
  7. Singer began writing, he tells us, even before he knew the alphabet, and he and his friend Shosha loved to tell each other stories. What kind of imagination does Isaac have as a child? Is it typical of most children? Does it prefigure the writer Singer was to become?
  8. What other families appear in A Day of Pleasure? How do they compare or contrast with the Singer family?

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