The obvious major conflict of The Devil's Arithmetic is the Holocaust. Through the story, the protagonist, Hannah, finds herself transported into a period when the Nazi government was systematically imprisoning, enslaving, and murdering Jews like herself. The struggles and horrors of life in a Nazi concentration camp clearly provide conflict in the novel. Yolen centers her novel around this conflict to shed light on the lived experiences of the Holocaust for modern young readers.
However, Hannah also experiences a personal conflict that drives the story. As a modern American teenager, Hannah experiences an internal conflict between what she desires to be (current, cosmopolitan, independent) and her heritage. This also causes an external conflict between Hannah and her parents, who wish for her to embrace her history and her Jewishness.