An Israeli Foster Mother

All my life I have felt like an outsider, and it is clearly one of the motivations that pushes me to write. A year after I got married I took 10 children from broken families into my home and became their foster mother. During that period I felt as if I was observing our common life—mine and theirs—from the outside, and that if I would go inside, I preferred to see the goings-on from their point of view. This experience gave birth to my best known book To Myself (El Atzmee), which was written in the first person. The protagonist of the book, Tzion Cohen, a boy from a broken home who comes to live in a foster family, is not ready to accept their bourgeois rules of how to behave and criticizes them sharply.

Conversation with Arab students in Jewish schools again confronted me with the position of the outsider, but this time as a Jewish woman. The Arab students shared with me the feelings of oppression they have when they find themselves in Jewish society, and I identified with them, actually because the Jewish people have been and continue to be the victims of racism too. This conversation, and the feelings that accompanied it, yielded my book Nadia, written in the first person from the point of view of an Arab girl who studies at a Jewish boarding school and challenges Israeli complacency.

Galila Ron-Feder-Amit was born in Haifa in 1949. She has written over 230 books for young readers, five novels for adults, and is the editor of several children’s magazines. Her work has been adapted for radio, screen and stage and has been translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.