The aim of this activity is to add another dimension to the examination of identity conflict.
- We suggest that you start by telling the story in three parts. The students should be sitting alone with pen and paper. After each stage in the telling, they should write a diary entry from the viewpoint of the protagonist, the soldier who survives. Adapt the story to your own reality if it suits you, or leave it in its native setting of World War I in Eastern Europe in the conflict between Germany and Russia. You may want to darken the room and help the atmosphere by playing some introductory background music.
The three stages that we suggest the students record in the diary are:
1. The call to war for the young Jewish soldier who has his first chance to serve the country to which he so much wants to belong. His feelings - hopes and fears - on the night before he reports to the army.
2. During the war. He witnesses terrible destruction but knows that the enemy - who represents evil - must be destroyed. It is the night before a crucial battle that may break the enemy and decide the course of the war.
3. The night after the battle. Describing the incident and the soldier’s feelings and reactions.
- Bring the class back together and hear some of the diary entries for these different stages. Give the most time to the third stage. Use the diary entries as a basis for a discussion, exploring some of the irony of the move toward modern Jewish identities in Diaspora countries. Was the last stage problematic for the students? Why? Why not?
- Then divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to think of something that could happen to someone in your community in which a modern Jew’s identification with your country is tested by a situation involving Jews from another national community. If possible, avoid a war scenario. We also suggest that Israel not be part of this exercise, as that situation will be used in Part Four.
- Each group should turn its scenario into a dramatic sketch, which they should present to the entire class.
- Conclude by stressing the potential ironies and contradictions, from a Jewish viewpoint, that can result from the identity choices of the modern Jew in Diaspora countries.