This short article was written in the Israeli children's newpaper Mishmar Layeladim by eight-year-old Ya'akov Mondshein from Haifa. This text was written on May 6 1948, eight days before Israel declared independence. From reading the text we know nothing about the boy's past. However, it is obvious that he already understands what it means to be ruled by others and appreciates being free as a Jew in his own land.
Israel War of Independence: 1947-49, Jewish Virtual Library
History of the Holocaust, Jewish Virtual Library
Video of Declaration of Independence, Youtube
What does the date tell you about this boy’s life?
What do you think he may have experienced in his short life?
What is the significance of the date of publication of this short text?
What happened a few days later?
Pay attention to the last line. What does the boy mean by this?
How does he identify with the bird?
Why would a Jewish boy, particularly at that time, understand what freedom is or should be?
How do children communicate their feelings about things like freedom or captivity?
How do children express themselves differently than adults?
Discuss the context of this text. Take into consideration that this boy may have survived the Holocaust or may have watched as his father went off to fight in Israel’s War of Independence.
How or where might this poem be relevant in the world today?
Create a sketch reenacting a scene in this boy’s life either before or after he wrote the text
Rewrite the story from the point of view of the bird.
When I sat down to do my homework,
a little bird flew in through the window.
I hurried to close the window
so that it wouldn't fly out.
Suddenly I felt in my heart, that the bird was very sad.
I felt sorry for it, and I ran to the window
and opened it for the bird.
And I said to her, “Fly away, my bird, fly!”
I am a Jewish boy,
and who, if not me, knows what freedom is."
Ya'akov Mondshein aged 8, Haifa