4: Definition of khapers.
Benjamin and Senderl were forced into the Russian Army by khapers (literally grabbers) who kidnapped other Jews into military service in order to fulfill enlistment quotas set by the Tsar.
Suggested Activity: Have students read the definiton of khapers, and make sure they understand their historical function. How does Abramovitsh depict khapers? What does their work say about the Jewish community? Senderl tries to adapt to military rules; Benjamin cannot. To what extent is this a comment on choices Jews might have made in Tsarist Russia? To what extent is it a comment on military might? It is almost unimaginable to think that the Tsarist army would have let Benjamin and Senderl leave. Why do you think Abramovitsh ends his story in this way?
Have students write a different speech than the one Benjamin gives to explain why he should be allowed to leave the army.
Source: Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, "Military Service in Russia," The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, https://yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Military_Service_in_Russia.