by Marilyn Sachs
(adapted by Jan Farmer)

M. Legrand:

NARRATOR: The year is December 1939. Nicole Nieman lives in France with her mother, father and sister. Nicole's family is Jewish. Nicole returns home from school feeling angered and confused.

Nicole: MAMAN! MAMAN! Today I was in singing and Mme. Claude said we were doing a good job. I turned to smile at Lucie, who was sitting next to me, and she said, "Dirty Jew!" I asked her "What did you Say?" and she whispered to me "Dirty Jew!"

Maman: What did you say?

Nicole: I tried to think of something to say but all I could do was laugh!

Maman: Laugh!

Nicole: But Maman...I didn't know what to say. What is a Dirty Jew? She is certainly mistaken about me because I am not a Dirty Jew. But I don't know who is.

Maman: Nobody is. Nobody is. Never mind it doesn't mean a thing just forget about it.

Narrator: Maman is very angry that someone would be so cruel to her daughter. Nicole's father comes home from work.

Papa: Nicole, what did you to make Lucie call you a dirty Jew?

Nicole: Nothing Papa. She doesn't like me, I know. And she always insults me, even though I would like to be friends with her, and always try to be nice.

Maman: Don't try any more! I want you to keep away from that girl! I want you to ignore her and never invite her here.

Narrator: Nicole thought, because even if she would have tried to invite Lucie over, she never would have come.

Nicole: But Papa, what is a Dirty Jew? Is it a Jewish person who isn't clean?

Papa: No , Nicole. I'm afraid in the eyes of some people it is you and Maman and me and your sister.

Nicole: But I am not dirty, Papa.

Papa: I know that, but there are people who hate the Jews, and make up all sort of lies about them which are not true.

Nicole: Well, I had better tell Lucie that she is mistaken, and that she should not listen to lies.

Papa: I don't think it would do any good, but you can try. It's always worth trying to make things better than they are.

Maman: She doesn't have to try anything! I will handle the whole situation.

Narrator: Maman was so upset about what Lucie had called her daughter she just moved around the room, picking up the newspaper and putting it down, straightening the pillows on the furniture and plumping up the pillows. (Papa interrupts Maman)

Papa: What will you do?

Maman: I will go to school tomorrow and speak to Mlle. Legrand.

Nicole: Is Mlle Legrand a Jew?

Papa: No, Nicole. In this town there are very few Jewish families. Besides ourselves, there are the Rostens Francoise's family, the Simons, the Morels and a few others. Nearly all of our friends are not Jewish.

Nicole: I don't think I want to be Jewish.

Maman: Shame on you. Just because some ignorant little fool insults you, you are ready to run away and be like everybody else.

Nicole: I want to be like everyone else.

Papa: Yes, and so do we all. But I'm afraid you can't stop being Jewish as long as other people think you are Jewish.

Nicole: I don't understand you.

Papa: Now look here. Your mother and I came from very religious families. When we were your age we went to the synagogue, and prayed, and followed all the religious customs. I even thought I would be a rabbi. But when I grew up a little, I no longer wanted to be a rabbi, and I no longer wanted to go to the synagogue. But that doesn't mean because I no longer practice the religion that I stop being a Jew. I can't stop, even if I wanted to, because as long as people hate Jews, they will always see me as a Jew whether I call myself one or not.

Narrator: Maman arrived at school the following day. She walked right into Nicole's classroom and started speaking with Mlle. Legrand. Nicole thought her mother looked beautiful all dressed up.

Mama: Mlle. Legrand, Yesterday something was said to Nicole and I am very disturbed.

Mlle Legrand: I'm listening.

Narrator: Madam Nieman proceeds to tell Mlle. Legrand all that had happened the previous day. Mlle. Legrand is not very happy.
She calls Nicole and Lucie to come to the front of the class to talk with her.

Mlle Legrand: Lucie, Mme. Nieman has complained that you called Nicole a Dirty Jew yesterday. Is this true?

Lucie: Well......

Mlle Legrand: Is it true Nicole?

Nicole: Yes, Mlle. Legrand

Mlle Legrand: Is it true Lucie?

Lucie: Yes Mademoiselle, it is true.

Mlle Legrand: I see, and may I ask why you called her that?

Answer me please!

Lucie: I don't know why.

Mlle Legrand: Do you Nicole?

Nicole: No Mademoiselle

Mlle Legrand: Had you teased Lucie, or insulted her in any way?

Nicole: No Mademoiselle

Mlle Legrand: Had she Lucie?

Lucie: No , but she........No Mademoiselle

Mlle Legrand: Well then I think you had better apologize to Nicole, and to Mme. Nieman, and perhaps to the class too for disturbing their lesson.

Narrator: Lucie remained silent. She held her eyes down at the floor. Her face was very red, and she held her mouth shut tight. Nicole felt sorry for Lucie and didn't care if she apologized or not. Nicole just hoped that she would stop hating her and be her friend. Nicole was also proud of her mother.
Lucie was crying--she finally apologized to Nicole her mother and the class.