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Galila Ron-Feder Amit - An Israeli Inspiration

Photo credit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Galila Ron-Feder Amit‎, born 1949, is an author of books for Israeli children. She has written 400 books, as well as television and film scripts. She also published a children's nature magazine and served as editor of a science magazine for young readers.

She is best known for her Time Tunnel series, captivating her readers as she explores Jewish and Israeli history.
The hero of the Time Tunnel series is a 10-year-old boy living in a contemporary Jerusalem suburban neighborhood. He discovers a mysterious tunnel near his home that can whisk him off to critical points in Israeli and Jewish history, from the Exodus out of Egypt to life at the time of Maimonides to the early days of the State of Israel to the struggle of Soviet Jews for freedom. Through his trips via the magic tunnel, he and his best friend experience first-hand these pivotal events, meeting real-life and fictional characters from that time, learning how they lived and coming back to his own time with a new perspective.

This is how the story begins:

"We entered the cave, and here we were, in a time tunnel. Suddenly we were in another era. I'm sure we seemed like aliens, extra terrestials or UFOs to the people we met ... We are children of the present, with computers, mobile phones and televisions ... yet for a few hours we went back dozens of years in time."

Ron-Feder published her first book in 1971. She credits Menachem Begin for her career in writing for children. When she was 16, she became fascinated with the history of the Etzel and Lehi, the friction between the Haganah and the underground organizations. In school, she says, they never taught this side of the story.

She read Begin's book The Revolt and based on what she learned, she wrote her first book for adults. When Begin read this book, he invited her to visit him. She was 22 at the time and quite taken by his interest in her writing. He told her that if she wanted to influence people she had to write for children, and thus began her illustrious career. Her children's books are a wonderful tool for adults as well.

Galila Ron was born in Haifa in 1949. She studied at the Hebrew Reali School and earned a degree in Bible and Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After her marriage to Avi Feder ended in divorce, she married Meshulam Amit. 

Despite her Haifa origins, Galila said: "I love Jerusalem and I feel blessed to be able to live in this city. I think I got that from my father … the Jews longed to return to Jerusalem for 2,000 years; that is something very deep. I often think about that when I am driving back to Jerusalem."

Galila spends much of her time traveling around the country to talk to schoolchildren. It is a good way of keeping tabs on her readership, and keeping pace with what the kids of today are into.

"I meet my raw material and also the target audience of my books," she noted. "I am very interested in what the kids say and think, and in the questions they raise."

This also informs her output. She said: "What I wrote 20 or 30 years ago is different from what I write about today."

Over a period of several months, she and her husband took in 10 children between the ages of three and nine, caring for them for a number of years. Naturally, this sudden influx of children and the expansive familial dynamics provided the budding writer with plenty of ideas for her books. Her first child – she has three of her own – was born into the already heavily populated family nest, and the foster children eventually all went their separate ways (Jerusalem Post).

In 2012 she gave us the story of Chaim Nachman Bialik. She describes his early years, his father's death when he was young, how he was ridiculed in school and labeled as one who would not succeed. She follows him through his wanderings, his years in Odessa, his conflict between religion and enlightenment, the loves in his life and his eventual settlement in Israel.

Her awards include a film based on her experiences as a foster mother, To Myself, which won First Prize at the Frankfurt Children's Film Festival. In 2008, she received the World Zionist Organization Award for Lifetime Achievement and Social Involvement. In 2018, Ron-Feder was a recipient of the Prime Minister's Prize for Hebrew Literary Works.

Books which have been translated to English:

1. The Spy from the Top Apartment (Redhead series), New York, Adama Books, 1997.

2. Jerusalem Under Siege (The Time Tunnel series: book 1), Moshav Ben Shemen, Israel, Modan, 2006.

3. The Dreyfus Affair (The Time Tunnel).

 

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Thursday, 05 August 2021

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