Page 55 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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ELIACH / THE HOLOCAUST IN HEBREW DRAMA
guilt, pride, penance, revenge and shame forced upon him by
the events of the Holocaust. T he play constantly shifts between
the dead and the living, between Eisyski and Israel; flashbacks
are dominant. The two madmen are unwilling to accept reality.
They choose the asylum out of sound calculations and con-
venience. There, w ithin its walls, they recreate their shtetl,
Eisyski, with its East European lore and folklore. They are
constantly busy in the construction of a strange surrealistic
vehicle inspired by Ezekiel’s divine chariot. T he ir “passengers”
are nine life-size effigies of their town’s nine dead notables.
They always await the arrival of the mysterious coachman,
the tenth man. When Schneiderman, a former coachman, arrives
at the hospital on a visit, the confrontation reaches its peak.
The younger generation has the misfortune of being their
father’s children. As eloquently stated by Durrenmatt, they can-
not escape their father’s world which is now their own. Bluma
fights for some share of normalcy, love and justice. Vladimir is
torn between guilt and penance, between Christian concepts
and Jewish aspirations. He is forever marked with the sign of
Cain as the murderer’s son. Yigal Sinai, the Israeli officer, is
committed to the idea tha t his generation will never allow
the Holocaust to happen in Israel. In a confrontation between
Nachummadman and Sinai, after a ceremony on “Heroes and
Martyrs Day,” the madman bursts out in a frenzied speech:
What do you know about the Holocaust? We are the
Holocaust. This is what they say every year at the cere-
mony. People like us should be locked up behind bars,
right? Because we shout and we always shout one thing,
only one thing . . . And this is why it is better tha t we
should be behind walls, all the year round, all the years,
and once a year, at your convenience . . . you allow us to
shout, to scream loudly, to open all the wounds, so tha t
all may see them, smell them and listen. But i t must
be dignified, right? So that you may say, “Massada shall
never fall again!” So for that purpose you set aside a
special day, a special ceremony for the dignified scream.
One day a year to be what indeed we truly are, the re-
mainder of the other 364 days.16
16
ib 'd . ,
p. 96.