Crippled by collaboration

The Jerusalem English Speaking Theater's current production will be disturbing to Holocaust survivors and their families.

beit shmuel 88 (photo credit: )
beit shmuel 88
(photo credit: )
The current production of the Jerusalem English Speaking Theater (JEST), The Action against Sol Schumann, will be disturbing to Holocaust survivors and their families. Jeffrey Sweet's drama premiered in Chicago in 2001 and had its Manhattan debut in 2004. It's based on the true story of Jacob Tannenbaum, a Holocaust survivor living in Brooklyn. The Department of Justice filed a complaint against him in 1987 in which it sought to strip him of his US citizenship for having concealed his past as a kapo (overseer) in a Nazi concentration camp when he applied for naturalization 30 years earlier. Kapos, recruited from among Jewish inmates, were often noted for their brutality. Children of kapos often went into shock after discovering their Jewish parents' role in the camps - some to the degree that they rquired psychological therapy. Some cut themselves off from their parents; others went into denial; still others justified what their parents did. The story is set in the mid-1980s, when US President Ronald Reagan set out to visit Germany's Bitburg Cemetery to honor the memories of those who died in WWII. Aaron, the son of the title character, is among those vociferously opposed to the visit, since the cemetery, in addition to containing the graves of German conscripts, is also the burial place of SS members, for whom he has no forgiveness. At the same time, Aaron must wrestle with the complicated wartime role of his own devoutly Orthodox father and see if he can find it in his heart to forgive him. The play, directed here by Leah Stoller, will have its Israeli premiere Thursday, June 8, at the Hirsch Theater, Beit Shmuel, Merkaz Shimshon in Jerusalem. Subsequent performances will take place June 12, 14 and 15. Tickets are NIS 70 for adults and NIS 55 for children. Tickets are available through Bimot (02) 623-7000, Klaim (02) 622-2333, Hirsch Theater (02) 620-3455 or JEST (02) 642-0908.