Page 53 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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4 5
old. He was fourteen when he came to the Land of Israel. In
his attempt to acculturate and assimilate into Kibbutz reality,
he denies his past, changes his name from Yossele to Yoram,
and severs all ties with friends and family. He succeeds and
even marries a “sabra,” a native Israeli, named Nurit. In the
fifties, the wave of new immigrants brings to Israel his family
and friends and other Holocaust survivors. T he past starts to
haun t him day and night. His wife, Nurit, despite her efforts,
finds it very difficult to cope with the “dark side” of her hus-
band about which she never knew.
Both N u rit and Yoram are followed by a mysterious stranger.
He is a homeless, lonely, half-crazed man, who sleeps on
a bench on the Tel-Aviv boardwalk. The only man to whom
he occasionally responds is a balloon seller who is also a sur-
vivor. The mysterious stranger refers to himself as “Medusa—
a kind of jellyfish who has no words.”
Yoram discovers tha t Medusa is Dr. Sigmund Rabinowitz,
his brother-in-law, who prior to the War, was a famous human-
ist and authority on Renaissance art. He lost his family during
the war and paid a high price for his own survival—Sigmund
cooperated with the Nazis.
In the final confrontation between Yoram and Sigmund,
Tomer delivers the finest dialogue of the play. When Yoram
demands an explanation, Sigmund replies:
You want to understand, to understand . . . Here you will
find the story of a certain commandant of a concentration
camp . . . A boyhood friend of mine . . . A German . . .
We studied together at Heidelberg . . . A humanist . . .
He had a special way of torturing me: once a week he
would invite me to discuss with him the future of human-
ity. Once he said to me: You Jews have given us Marx,
Freud, Einstein, Heine . . . But only Heine grasped the
essential thing about German temperament . . . tha t we’ve
remained fire-worshippers to this day. I want you to un-
derstand tha t I was a human being, and the most terrible
thing of all was that they were human too . . . 14
Unlike Yoram, Sigmund is unable to forget and is unable to
reconcile his pre-Holocaust humanism with his own behavior
Ib id .,
p. 74.