2: Dictionary definitions, and excerpts, "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy," Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1962.
Scholar Naomi Seidman considers complex sexual and gender dynamics in her chapter “The Erotics of Sexual Segregation,” in The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism: “The traditional world offered a wide range of same-sex [homosocial] environments, each with its distinctive patterns of interaction, class or religious associations, and so on. Male domains such as yeshivas, study halls, bathhouses, synagogues, and the Hasidic court were all part of a ramified, single-sex socio-religious culture that supplemented, indeed sometimes supplanted, the mixed-sex spaces of home and marketplace” (Seidman, 111). In "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy," I.B. Singer engages many of these dynamics, exploring traditional same-sex spaces of interaction like the yeshiva. Defining key terms relevant to the interactions in "Yentl," and applying them to the text, can create pathways into the story for students.
Suggested Activity: Have students consult the provided dictionary definitions of "homosocial," "homoerotic," and "homosexual." Ask if (and, if so, how) any of these terms help them to understand the sexual or gender dynamics in the story.
Sources: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary copyright © 2015 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.
Isaac Bashevis Singer, “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy," Commentary vol. 34, no. 3 (Sept. 1962), 213-24. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/yentl-the-yeshiva-boy-a-story/