illustration of main character Hannah opening a door which leads to a barbed wire fence

The Devil's Arithmetic

by Jane Yolen

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What are some words related to The Devil's Arithmetic for an ABC glossary project?

Expert Answers

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One way to approach the project is thematically. In every chapter, the author places Hannah in new (usually past) situations that shape her awareness of the importance of memory, of Jewish traditions, and of events in Germany that formed part of the Holocaust. Each of them has distinct components that could become part of your lexicon.

In chapter 1, for example, Hannah and her family observe Passover through a seder with her grandparents. On the way to their house, she and her brother discuss the Four Questions that he will read during the meal.

In chapter 2, Hannah remembers an incident regarding the tattoo of numbers on her Grandpa's arm. He cried out in Yiddish a phrase meaning Angel of Death, or "Malach ha-mavis,” when he saw that Hannah had copied them in pen.

Working through the book systematically will soon yield enough words.

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I will get you started on some, but you can do this yourself with ease, I believe. Just think about the subject of the story - it is about the Holocaust, as you know - and you should easily be able to come up with some words.

A -Aliyah - this is a Jewish word that refers to Jews immigrating back to Israel. It is part of the Zionist belief that one day, all Jews should return to the Holy Land. I think you should include some Jewish words in your assignment.

B -Black - the Nazi uniforms are black and the train cars that transport Jews to the death camps are black.

C - Chaya - Hannah's Hebrew name

D - Death camps - the concentration camps were called "death camps"

E - Elijah - part of passover includes welcoming the prophet Elijah

See, it is easy!

Read the information here on eNotes and you can do the rest yourself.

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