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Moving performance of “In the Pit” is viewed by hundreds

Ruta Zandman, Felix's wife, with Anat Livne, Director of the Ghetto Fighters' House
Ruta Zandman, Felix's wife, with Anat Livne, Director of the Ghetto Fighters' House

During the Intermediate Days of Sukkot, “In the Pit”, a production of the Ghetto Fighters’ House, was performed as part of the Israeli Fringe Theatre Festival in Akko for hundreds of moved viewers.

An experiential representation, this performance tells the story of the late Dr. Felix Zandman, Holocaust survivor and one of the pioneers in hi-tech and industry in Israel, who as young teenage boy was hidden in a pit under the house of a poor family of farmers.

The performance, that involved six actresses, tells the story of the 500 days in the pit through dialogues between those hidden there.  The “stage” was designed to resemble a pit and the performance takes the audience on a journey to the past, to WWII Poland, where in this small underground hiding place, along with his uncle and another couple, the youg Felix spends a year and a half.

Among the many viewers, was the Zandman family, who was invited as honored guests.  The family was present at a special ceremony in their honor at the museum and to the opening performance of the play. 

Dr. Felix Zandman was born in Grodno, Poland (today Belarus)  in 1927.  When he was 15 years old he was left alone after his whole family was murdered in the liquidation of the ghetto.  Zandman survived along with his uncle and together, along with three other Jews, were cramped into a small pit under the house of Polish farmers.  There, in hiding, underground, he lived for a year and a half.  He had nothing but his inner resources of imagination and intellect and a strong will to push away the insanity in order to continue living.  In the dark pit, his uncle taught him mathematics.  From these lessons, under unbelievable conditions, Zandman would be accepted to the Sorbonne and receive his PhD after the war. 

His horrifying experiences as an adolescent embedded in him discipline, motivation and a generous spirit.  In 1956, he arrived in the USA and there one of his discoveries became the foundation of his prosperous international company – Vishay Intertechnology.  He named the company in memory of his grandmother, who was born in the small village of Vishay in Lithuania.  Throughout the years Zandman developed patents and inventions, among them semiconductors an electronic chips, which helped the international flight industry and the designing of the Israeli tank Merkava.


His love of Israel was like a second lifeline throughout his life and once he had become a successful industrialist, he invested in Israel, in the absorption of new immigrants and in the deepening of the Holocaust heritage at the Ghetto Fighters’ House for many years. 

Over the years, Dr. Zandman and his family have visited the Ghetto Fighters’ House and have been active in the commemoration of children and adolescents who lived during the Holocaust in the Yad Layeled children’s museum.    Zandman was appointed a Friend of the Ghetto Fighters’ House for many years. 

Many museum visitors have heard his testimony that is permanently screened at the children’s museum.  The museum staff, headed by the director, Anat Carmel, and the director, Hava Cohen, created a monologue-based play about Zandman’s story to the school-age visitors that come to the museum. 

The performance at the festival gained special meaning when Dr. Felix Zandman passed away this past June at the age of 86.

 

Ruta Zandman with the the actresses

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