Local Book-lovers Launch New Series for Israeli Teens

Detroit-born children's librarian and teacher Ilene Moskowitz says, 'Very few books are either written in or translated into Hebrew for the older teenage age group, from 16 to 18.'

Toddlers, children, teenagers, adults - there are books for every age group. But according to two Israeli bookworms, there is one age group that Israeli publishers consistently neglect.

"Very few books are either written in or translated into Hebrew for the older teenage age group, from 16 to 18," complained Ilene Moskowitz, a Detroit-born children's librarian and teacher. "In other languages, that age is given more credence. But here, they're either considered adults or they're just completely skipped."

Ilene Moskowitz - Yaniv Golan
Yaniv Golan

To address this problem, Moskowitz, 54, teamed up with Yehiam Padan, a veteran editor, translator and writer. Together they launched a series specifically designed for older teens. Four books have appeared in the series to date. Entitled "Mifras" ("Sailboat" ), the series is published by HaKibbutz Hameuchad/Sifriyat Poalim.

On January 12, Mifras' fifth book - "Postcards From No Man's Land," by British author Aidan Chambers - will be launched at the British Council's Ramat Gan office.

Simon Kay, director of the British Council Israel's office. said he hoped "the event itself will pay fitting tribute to his work," said

"We want to continue to nurture an appreciation of British writing amongst Israeli readers, and there can few better ways of doing this than through the translation of award-winning work for young adult readers into the Hebrew language," Kay told Anglo File.

Padan, 64, said that publishers have been telling him for more than 20 years that they don't want to put out books for the 16-18 age group because they don't believe older teenagers would buy them.

"I always thought they were wrong," Padan said. "If they have books, they will read them."

According to Padan, more books in the above-16 age group have been written and published in America and Europe in recent years than ever before. Of those, the titles that made it to Israel did not receive the attention they deserved because they weren't marketed properly, he said.

"These books got lost because they weren't included in a series," said Padan. "They couldn't be included in a series for 12-year-olds because it's not for them. And they're not exactly adult books either. So everybody skipped them, and some very good books just disappeared like smoke."

Moskowitz and Padan - who both live on Kibbutz Samar, in the Arava - are already working on translating future books, including some from Spanish and Portuguese.

"Each book that we pick is very different from the others. They're all written in different styles," Moskowitz said. "What's important to us is that they're books that are very well written and deal with interesting, provocative subjects."

The publishers admit that, so far, their project has not been blessed with the commercial success they had hoped for. But Moskowitz and Padan aren't giving up yet.

"A good book can be read for the next 40 years and more, so we really see it as a long-term project" Moskowitz said.