It’s been more than a week since Holocaust Remembrance Day, but I still have not heard a rational explanation of why students attending a play shouted encouragement during scenes depicting Jews being beaten and killed by Nazis.
“Hit him harder,” one student cried out as a kapo beat a Jew.
“Well done,” shouted another.
Others cheered and applauded the work of the Nazis.
This took place not in the United States or Europe but in the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv before an audience of hundreds of Jewish high school students!!!
When the two-hour play ended, the actor who played the kapo, Oded Leopold, reportedly stepped back onto the stage and gave the audience a verbal whip-lashing.
“You embarrassed the Jewish people and the Holocaust,” he said, according to the Times of Israel.
“I hope what goes on in your heart is different from what came out of your mouths,” he said. “It was disgraceful behavior, embarrassing yourselves most of all.”
The actor told the newspaper that most of the actors cried when the play ended because “we were frustrated and offended.”
Another actor, Rami Baruch, was quoted as complaining that a specific group of students had misbehaved during the show. He said it was apparent that “they did not at all understand what they were seeing.”
"We spoke of Jews who were persecuted in the Warsaw Ghetto and felt as if we were at recess in a schoolyard,” he said. “Some students shouted their support for the oppressors. We didn't stop the show, but at the end we told them that those who should be embarrassed by what they did know who they were."
The play "Ghetto," written by Joshua Sobol, describes the final days of the theater that operated in the Vilna Ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Lithu
Some actors complained also that the educational staff in the theater “didn’t lift a finger” to silence the students. But one teacher defended both her and her students’ conduct, writing to the theater’s management: “Reactions from students are not in any way a disgrace to the Jewish people.”
Another teacher said four of his students were booted from the play and that “there was a very harsh talk with everyone immediately following the event.”
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar called the students’ behavior “a disgrace that pains the heart.” He later apologized to the Cameri Theater for what occurred.
The director of the Carmeri’s educational department, Avi Kalma, pointed out that this was the only group of students to act this way during a week of 12 performances to 50,000 students from throughout the area.
But Sa’ar called for a national study of the incident and to develop conclusions within the framework of the cultural program. He said the review would be done with Education Ministry officials and National Student Council representatives.
"Teaching culture also means teaching proper behavior at public events and combating the barbaric behavior we witnessed in this case," he was quoted as saying.