When the Shark and the Fish First Met

Story written by Gilad Schalit as a child now on tour as an art exhibit.

Gilad Schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Illustrated by well-known Israeli artists such as David Gerstein and Michel Kishka, a story written by abducted soldier, Cpl. Gilad Schalit, when he was 11 is being published this week, with all proceeds going to the Habanim organization dedicated to freeing Schalit and reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Schalit wrote "When the Shark and the Fish First Met" for a fifth-grade school assignment. It lay forgotten in his teacher's house until last spring, when she found it while cleaning her house for Pessah. It is a simple fairy tale, of a shark and a fish that overcome their mothers' mutual suspicions and fears to become friends. In language rendered all the more poignant by the fact of Schalit's kidnapping in June 2006 from inside the Israeli border with Gaza, he writes of a "small and gentle fish" swimming in the ocean who sees a shark about to devour it. The fish entreats the shark to play with him instead of eating him. They play together happily, but at home, the fish's mother warns him not to play with the shark because "it devoured your father and your brother." The shark's mother also tells the shark that fish are to be eaten, not played with. After a long time, the two meet again and the shark tells the fish, "You are my enemy, but maybe we can make peace." The two continue to meet secretly and eventually reveal their friendship to their mothers. Lee Rimon de Lange, who co-owns the Edge Gallery in Nahariya with her husband, Itschak, discovered the tale some six months ago and was touched by its message. She then asked Noga Schimmel, chairwoman of the Israeli Illustrators Society, if any of its artists would be interested in volunteering to illustrate the story for an exhibit. Many readily agreed. (The original version was illustrated by Schalit's mother, Aviva Schalit, who could not be reached for comment.) The resulting show is currently at the Edge Gallery. The illustrated book, published by Kinneret, is now on sale. "When the Shark and the Fish First Met" is included on the Habanim Web site (www.habanim.org) and the story appears on-line in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Said de Lange: "It's clear from this tale Schalit understood how to 'conquer' with love." (Further illustrations and a fuller text of this story will appear in The Jerusalem Post's Metro supplement on Friday.)