This article focuses on theater as a form of cultural, political and ideological training for aliyah aimed at Jewish displaced persons (DPs) in postwar Italy. Exploring the private archives of the Zionist emissary Zvi Aldouby, we intend to move beyond the traditional idea of hachsharah as a preparation for aliyah based primarily on physical and agricultural training. This analysis relates on a set of diverse sources, ranging from institutional reports, official and informal correspondence, personal notes, sketches, photographs and drawings. Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, the article is divided in two parts. The first one frames Aldouby’s mission in relation to the rehabilitative programs and the political landscape within the refugee camps. The second part explores the birth of a dramatic circle founded by Aldouby and analyzes two theatrical plays directed by him, The Golem (Ha-Golem) by H. Leivick and This Land (Ha-Adamah Ha-Zot) by A. Ashman. Through the analysis of Aldouby mission, the article emphasizes the role of culture among Jewish DPs as well as the political motivations behind it. In this scenario, characterized by the Jewish DPs’ efforts to start a new life and the Zionist emissaries’ endeavor to organize their aliyah, theater became the stage to promote and discuss new understandings of home and identity.
This essay deals with the fate of Jewish Displaced Persons in Italy from the liberation of the Camp of Ferramonti di Tarsia, by the Allied Army in 1943, until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. It focuses on the creation of a complex network of agencies, organizations and individuals involved in assisting the Jewish DPs in Italy, in the framework of the post-war refugee crisis. The article discusses the approaches and ambitions of the rescuers (military authorities, UN agencies and representatives from the Yishuv) and the desires of the Jewish DPs themselves, who played an active role both in the administration of the refugee camps as well as in the political discourse regarding their resettlement in British Palestine. Through an analysis of hitherto unexplored archival sources, it will illustrate the development of new sense of belonging and of a renewed identity among the Jewish DPs.