Yiddishpiel founder and director Shmuel Atzmon, a Holocaust survivor, has chosen Ben Zion Tomer’s Children of the Shadows to be Yiddishpiel’s major production for Israel’s 60th anniversary.

There is a certain irony in the fact that the play (which deals both directly and indirectly with Holocaust survivors) is being performed at a time when such survivors are still being mistreated in Israel.

And it isn’t only the government that failed to give them their due. Many people born here were impatient with those who came from “over there” and didn’t want to know about what they endured or about the families they lost. All this comes across in Tomer’s sensitive play.

Two of the main characters, convincingly portrayed by Israel Treistman and Uri Kowalski, are as different as chalk and cheese. Treistman’s character is a highly educated intellectual, a graduate of the University of Heidelberg, who as a result of his wartime experiences is mentally unhinged. Kowalski’s character is a balloon vendor, a stereotype of the shtetl Jew, with minimal education and a heart of gold, who keeps asking questions, but when he receives an answer invariably says, “I don’t understand.”