Illustrators from Israel at the Museum

Family Sunday During the Hebrews Project

On Family Sunday, four illustrators will be arriving from Israel to talk about their work and their country: Naama Benziman, Gil-Ly Alon Curiel, Aya Gordon-Noy, and Ofra Amit. Each of the four women sets the artistic stage for stories in an unmistakably unique style. A small exhibition will familiarize us with their work and show us their perspectives on Berlin and Israel.

In workshops, young visitors will have a chance to collaborate with the grown-up illustrators to create their own pictures to pair with poems and stories.


W. M. Blumenthal Academy

Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin
Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

Among the cushions and animal-shaped bookshelves of the new kids’ corner of the library, we will read new and old illustrated children’s books aloud. The adults can watch films about Lea Goldberg and Miryam Yellan Shtekelis, Israel’s two greatest children’s book authors.

Family Sunday is the beginning of an entire week of books. From 15 to 18 October, the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin will be hosting numerous illustration workshops for school groups.


W. Michael Blumenthal Academy, Hall

2 pm Words of Welcome: Léontine Meijer-van Mensch (Jewish Museum Berlin) and Kirsten Hinkler (Kulturkind e. V.)
Live drawing with the illustrators Naama Benziman, Gil-Ly Alon Curiel, Aya Gordon-Noy, and Ofra Amit
Reading of the poem A Hike in the Hills by Lea Goldberg in Hebrew, English, and German. The poem will be the theme of the subsequent workshops.

Program for Children

W. Michael Blumenthal Academy

3 pm Reading of the picture book Zimmer frei im Haus der Tiere (Room for Rent) by Lea Goldberg in Hebrew and German
(Reading Room)
3–6.30 pm Open workshops with the illustrators (in Hebrew and German)
(Education Room 1 and 2 & Seminar Room)

Program for Adults and Children

W. Michael Blumenthal Academy, Hall

3 and 4 pm Tour of the new Children’s Museum construction site (in German)
(Meeting point: door to the Diaspora Garden)
3 pm Film screening: »The 5 houses of Lea Goldberg«, 55 minutes, 2011
More information about the film series
4 pm Film screening: »Alone, The legend of Miryam Yellan Shtekelis«, 51 minutes, 2018
More information about the film series
5 pm Discussion on the significance of Lea Goldberg and Miryam Shtekelis for contemporary illustrators, with film maker Yair Qedar, the curator of the Israel Museum Jerusalem, Orna Granot, and Hila Lahav
6.30 pm Illustrators and children present their work in the Academy Hall, accompanied by the musicians Maya Belsitzman & Matan Ephrat (Israel)

The Illustrators

Film poster: The 5 houses of Lea Goldberg; Courtesy of The Hebrews

Orfa Amit lives and works in Tel Aviv. She has participated in many exhibitions in London, Tel Aviv, Rio de Janeiro, Tehran, and elsewhere. Her work has been honored with national and international awards.

We asked her a few questions:

Alice from “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland”. Alice is a brave, smart, curious and kindhearted girl. She also has a very rich imagination, and her mind is always open to new ideas, even to nonsense. She becomes very big and very small, and each time she can see the world in a different way. She is not afraid to change. Alice follows her heart through the adventures in Wonderland.

The pool. Next to the beautiful beach in Tel Aviv, my home city, there's a very special swimming pool. Why is it so special? Because it's filled with cool, salty water from the deep sea. Every night the pool workers empty the whole pool and fill it with new, fresh sea water. Also, it has no roof or walls so you can always see the sea, you can swim in the sun and in the rain and it's much fun! I love swimming so I swim there almost every morning. Sometimes the best ideas for illustrations come up when you swim.

Our home is always welcoming dogs of friends and family, so all the dogs became friends with each other too. Our she-dog is called: Tut, which means “strawberry” in Hebrew. My two daughters chose the name for her. However, except that she is small and sweet, she has nothing in common with a strawberry. She is a black, fluffy, shy and funny creature. She also stars in one of the children's books I've been working on. You can find her in the night party illustration, where she is overcoming her shyness and dancing with her friends. Can you guess who she is?

MAYIM which means “Water”. The sound of it goes up and down, like a wave. The sound of it is like tasting water, mmm... In Hebrew, MAYIM is written like MYM, so it can be read from right to left and from left to right, and you cannot tell which the beginning is and which is the end, just like water. MAYIM can be found within the word SHAMAYIM which means “Sky”, so it's only natural that there would be rain sometimes. If you say MAYIM many times, like: “MAYIMAYIMAYIMA.....” you get the word “IMA”, my second favorite word, which means “Mother”.

Naama Benziman was born in Jerusalem and now lives in Tel Aviv. Alongside her varied work as an illustrator, she works as a teacher, an exhibition curator, and a writer. She is currently working on her third children’s book. She has received a number of naitonal and international prizes and honors for her work, which has been shown in many exhibitions in Israel and abroad.

We asked her a few questions:

With Berlin, I associate my grandfather. He completed his Ph.D. in Economics at Humboldt university in 1933 and moved to Israel.

This figure I really like: Annaluise (Pünktchen). She is curios, playful, imaginative, sharp and brave, and of course a true and loyal friend. I cannot think of Erich Kästner's book without Walter Trier's brilliant illustrations.

Where I really like to be: in the desert, as long as it's not too hot. I practice yoga and I love to practice where it's quiet and empty. Last autumn I spent four peaceful days of yoga in the Arava desert valley, sleeping in a small mud hut, almost free from civilization. It was perfect.

What I like about my home: the trees, the grass and the birds around, our friendly neighbours, my dog's welcome, my partner and my children. We live in a small communal neighbourhood. We have a free library, in which everyone can borrow as many books as she likes. It holds many many books for both kids and adults. The neighbours donate the books and arrange them. We also have a communal garden, where some of the neighbours grow vegetables, we have our local parties and workshops and even a coffee shop with a huge screen, where the neighbours can watch movies together. Our family dog, Creker, is small, shy and gentle, but when I walk with him we see beautiful things. In the spring and in the summer we meet the seagulls – they nest on the roofs of our houses, and sometimes we even see their little babies learning to fly. My partner, Dori, is an industrial designer. Sometimes we work together: for example, two years ago we transformed my line illustrations into an installation of wooden objects in a gallery. These days we create visual quizzes for a monthly children's magazine. We have a son, Itamar – he is 14.5, and a daughter, Zohar – she is 12.

A beautiful word in my language is DIMYON and it means imagination and fantasy. DIMYON is similar to another word in Hebrew, DMOOT. DMOOT means a figure and a character. DIMYON and DMOOT are the starting point of a story. When I work on a new book, I try to imagine the character and understand her, so that she would seem real to me, although the story is imaginative.

Gil-Ly Alon Curiel teaches illustration at the WIZO Academy of Design and Education in Haifa and at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College. She has illustrated more than seventy books by various authors and is also the author of two picture books of her own. Her work has been distinguished with national and international awards and prizes.

We asked her a few questions:

I visited Berlin twice before. On both occasions I was deeply impressed with the art and culture of the city. Berlin has a feeling of constant renewal, creation and renovation. The city is cosmopolitan and has a real feeling of openness. The German language is not foreign to my ear, as it was spoken regularly in my grandparents’ house, my father was born in Germany and left for Israel in 1939. My father and his parents have always talked about Berlin in fondness and yearning.

A figure I liked in my childhood was “Pollyanna” from the book Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter, published in the USA 1913. The book tells the story of Pollyanna, an optimistic orphan girl, whose motto I’ve adopted through the years: In every situation, whatever it may be, find something to be glad about.

The place I feel the most comfortable in is my home, in the company of family and friends.

Haifa is a port city whose buildings flow from the mountain to the sea. My house has everything I need and love,
drawing and painting studio, sewing studio and a general space for creativity.

NEDIVUT. The word NEDIVUT contains many meanings, all of which talk about giving and open-hearted approach. The beautiful thing about giving, or NEDIVUT, is that the giver thrives from the action.

Aya Gordon-Noy lives and works at the Ein Hod artists’ colony near Haifa. She uses a variety of materials and techniques and has illustrated numerous children’s books.

We asked her a few questions:

I associate Berlin with my grandmother who was born in the city. Although she immigrated to British-ruled Palestine as a child, she continued to love Berlin and missed it. She spoke at every opportunity of the city’s cultural performances, its art, magazines, sweets, cakes, the coffee shops and the happy childhood that she had, which was so different from the reality she landed in as a twelve-year-old in Palestine.

I really like the character of Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, perhaps because I am a "good and obedient girl" like Pippi’s friend, Annika Settergren, I am fascinated by Pipi’s ability and courage to think without limits: without “allowed” or “forbidden”, without “one should” and “one ought to”. For example: shaping cookies on the floor. Why not? After all, the floor can be a perfect work surface. Another example, nail soup... maybe it really is possible? And it's also healthy, because it contains iron! When I think of an idea for illustration, I am using Pippi's mindset. Why does the character in the story I illustrate draw in her notebook and not actually enter it? And why can’t you fly on a piano? Who said that a flower is shorter than a child? After all, I am not a photographer of the National Geographic, I am a photographer of the imagination, so I can dare like Pippi and illustrate stories, desires, and dreams.

I love to be in the sea. Not by the sea—in it. There’s a lot of wind. Not just on the beach, where it’s too warm, but right in the sea. Almost every morning I go swimming in the sea near the village where I live. I swim with goggles which allow me to see the magical underwater world, so different from that of humans. I think I already know all the fish in the lagoon near my house, and when I swim I think about objects, shapes and colors I would like to illustrate. Sometimes the sea is quiet and you can see many fish and strange creatures in the lagoon, and sometimes the sea is stormy and swimming is like an adventure. What's certain is that after swimming I always have a lot of new stories in my head.

The things I like most about my house are all those who live with me: My partner, Uri, who knows how to fix everything: a refrigerator with hiccups, a car that does not start, or a tired child who does not want to go to school. My four vocal boys who taught me to cook fast and tasty and they are clearly very clever because they think I'm the best illustrator in the world. Max, our lazy dog who never helps me to draw, even when I have a tight deadline. Our dog Ayala is an activist against wild boars but also knows how to smile just like a person. Our pesky cat, Mitzi, that sleeps on my illustrations.

A beautiful word in my language is: KISHKUSH and it means nonsense or scrabbling. I'm good at both of them!

Sponsored by the Friends and Patrons of the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Inge Deutschkron Foundation. In cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., the Hebrew Library of Berlin, the Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies in Berlin-Brandenburg (ZJS), and the Freie Universität Berlin.

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W. M. Blumenthal Academy

Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin
Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

Where, when, what?

  • When

    Sunday 14 October 2018, 2–7 pm
    add to my calendar

  • Where
    W. M. Blumenthal Academy

    Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin
    Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

  • Entry fee

    Free of charge – there is no need to register for this event

  • Please noteChildren under the age of 6 must be supervised by an adult

  • For journalists Phone: +49 (0)30 25 993 419