MKs mark Book Week with beloved kids’ stories

Education Committee discusses bill which seeks to safeguard authors' income and to encourage competition between publishers.

June 15, 2011 05:41
2 minute read.
book week 88 248

book week 88 248. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Lawmakers and youngsters gathered in the Knesset on Tuesday in honor of Hebrew Book Week to read from their favorite children’s books.

The event, initiated by MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Heyudi), was attended by legislators from across the political spectrum, who read from Israeli classics and more recent children’s books.

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Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) recounted a childhood visit with his father to the home of the “national poet” Chaim Nahman Bialik, during which Bialik’s widow, Mania, gave him a book of poems by poet, author, playwright, literary translator and researcher of literature Leah Goldberg. Rivlin read one poem, “The Elephant’s Dream,” which tells the story of an elephant that dreams he has been eaten by a mouse.

Rivlin said that decades later, as a politician, he thinks about the poem and asks, “Who is the mouse, and who is the elephant?” Opposition head Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said that, as a child, whenever she was sick, her father would bring her a new book to read. When she was healthy, Livni said, she loved to play soccer in her neighborhood, which is why she chose to read an excerpt from the story “Kick, Alon, Kick,” from a series of children’s books about sports.

“Women, don’t be afraid to step onto the men’s field, whether it’s in soccer or in the Knesset,” Livni added.

Shas MK Avraham Michaeli said that when he made aliya from Soviet Georgia as a teenager in 1971, he loved to go to the Elite junction in Ramat Gan, where Elite chocolate was manufactured, and read Yehonatan Gefen’s poem “The Smell of Chocolate.”

MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) read the poem “Metamorphosis of a Coat,” which she said her mother would recite to her in Yiddish.

MKs Arye Eldad (National Union) and Said Nafa (Balad) read excerpts from the books they wrote.

Also in honor of Hebrew Book Week, the Knesset Education and Culture Committee held a meeting to discuss a bill proposed by MKs Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Heyhudi) and Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) to protect Israeli authors.

The bill, which seeks to ensure that authors receive “appropriate compensation” for writing and to encourage competition between publishers, was proposed in 2009, and has yet to be approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. Education, Culture and Sports Committee chairman Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) suggested that Orlev and Horowitz circumvent the ministerial route, and submit the bill for reading in the Knesset.

“There is no doubt that many great talents are not being expressed because it is very difficult to make a living writing books in Israel,” Orlev said.

Author Yoram Kaniuk told the committee that “the law to protect authors has been successful in nine European countries, and saved French authors from a deep economic crisis.” He added that in Israel, lobbyists have convinced politicians to oppose the law.

Outside of the Education Committee room, representatives of the Central Library for the Blind of the library gave MKs a quick lesson in braille, and then asked them to enter the a large black tent and try to experience what Hebrew Book Week is like for the blind. Rivlin, Horowitz, and others tried their hand at reading in the dark.

Hebrew Book Week runs from June 15-25 (but not on Fridays) and information on locations and times can be found, in Hebrew, at

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