“I discovered a theater of benevolence. Thanks to Yiddishpiel Theater, for the first time in many years, I saw my Aunt laugh! She told me afterwards, that for a short time during the performance, she forgot all her aches and pains, and was simply delighted”.
~ Former Israeli Finance Minister, Yaakov Neeman
The Holocaust generation are the Jewish children born in the towns and villages of Central and Eastern Europe in the 1930s who had their childhood cruelly interrupted and then destroyed by the Nazi juggernaut. Holocaust survivors living in Israel spent their childhood years in a wholly Yiddish environment in countries such as Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Germany and Lithuania, where the Jews spoke Yiddish, read Yiddish books and newspapers, and attended Yiddish Theatre as a pastime.
Not only did the Holocaust destroy their lives, but it also destroyed a Yiddish world that had existed for over 1,000 years.
The home language of the vast majority of survivors was Yiddish. Holocaust survivors, landing on the shores of Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust, adopted Hebrew as their home language. Yet, even now as older adults, they still long to recapture some part of their pre-Holocaust childhood and the warm and loving memories of their families and friends, which brings them joy and lifts their spirits.
Yiddishpiel has groups of actors perform for survivors in day centers for older adults and older adult institutions throughout Israel on a weekly basis. In addition to the pleasure they receive from watching the shows, the theater acts as a therapeutic intervention in helping survivors manage the scars of the dark years of their lives.
Experiencing Yiddishpiel Theater transports survivors to happier times, offering a breath of fresh air, as they are able to once again listen to the language of their childhood, and witness scenes in many of the plays that are reminiscent of the villages in which they were born.
First launched in 1998, Yiddishpiel now offers over 150 unique performances per year, impacting over ten thousand survivors annually throughout Israel.
Eshel is committed to ensuring that survivors will continue to benefit from this intervention for the years to come, and ensure they too can live out their lives with dignity, warmth and improved wellbeing.
- Participates in activities which provide meaning and emotional support
- Increased emotional resilience
- Sense of belonging to a community
Yiddishpiel Theater Association, Ministry for Social Equality