Zalmen or the madness of God


A play by Elie Wiesel

Directed by Guila Clara Kessous

Set in a post-Stalinist Russian synagogue on the eve of an appearance by a

Western actring troupe, Elie Wiesel's play has been described as a cry of anguish about the collective guilt of "the Silent". The old Rabbi of the town has nearly given up hope of ever seeing his people breathe the pure air of freedom.  As he, his neighbors and congregants alike kowtow to the local officials who gently coerce them to comply and remain silent.


Most who are familiar with the works of Elie Wiesel will think of his memorable semi-autobiographical novels, his two-volume memoir or his long and unflagging effort to bring the issue of human rights--not only Jewish human rights--before the eyes of the world. Here, we see a different Wiesel, even different than the man who stood up to Ronald Reagan when he urged him (unsuccessfully) not to visit Bitburg. It is not so much that his theme--the plight of oppressed Jews-- is unfamiliar. Rather, it is how it is revealed. It is not only a theatrical work but a prospective of post-World War II history and the struggle of Jews in a recently established post-Stalinist Russia.