Reconstruction of Self-Identity of Holocaust Child Survivors Who Participated in “Testimony Theater”

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Abstract

The current study is the first to examine the experience of Holocaust Child Survivors (HCSs) sharing their survival stories by performing with youths on one stage as part of the “Testimony Theater” project. Using qualitative data analysis, the findings indicate that the Holocaust experience is an essential element in forming the identity of HCSs. Arriving in the land of Israel, Holocaust survivors had a collective identity of “Holocaust Survivors” that left them with feelings of shame and inferiority, which hindered the establishment of their self-identity. However, when HCSs take the role of the teller through the “Testimony Theater” project, a transition from a collective identity to a self-identity occurs. This role enables HCSs to reconstruct their self-identity and find in it a positive, personal, and meaningful role. Consequently, we suggest that reconstruction of self-identity can occur when survivors take on a positive and empowering role, in the presence of others, within the context of an attentive, empathic, and nonjudgmental relationship.

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