Israel Prize-winning author Devorah Omer dies at 80

Writer published dozens of children’s books dealing with early Israeli and Zionist history

Dvora Omer's books, which feature prominently in the childhood memories of Israelis of all ages.
Dvora Omer's books, which feature prominently in the childhood memories of Israelis of all ages.

Renowned author and Israel Prize laureate Devorah Omer passed away Friday at the age of 80.

Her funeral will take place Sunday at the cemetery of her home moshav, Kfar Maas.

Omer published nearly 100 books, including several that have become an integral part of children’s literature in Israel, and which evoke fond childhood memories in Israelis of all ages.

Omer started her career writing a column titled “The Tamar pages” for the Davar children’s magazine. In 1958, her columns were published as a collection of short stories which were sold widely and enjoyed great success.

Many of her books dealt with the lives of Israeli pioneers, the “Halutzim,” as well as young soldiers and prominent Zionist leaders. She also wrote about Israeli history, wars, the Holocaust, and Sephardi-Ashkenazi relations in pre-independence Jerusalem.

In 2006, Omer received the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement.

“Omer turned the Israeli-Zionist past into a live score of role models and exciting events, which together built the mighty Zionist enterprise,” read the Israel Prize committee’s official statement.

Omer won numerous other awards through the years, including the Ministry of Education Award, the Hadas Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Prime Minister’s Award.

Devorah Omer (photo credit: YouTube screen cap)
Devorah Omer (photo credit: YouTube screen cap)

“Omer is one of the greatest children and youth writers in the history of Hebrew literature,” said Culture Minister Limor Livnat.

“In many ways, even after her death, Omer will continue through the library to make an impact and to have an influence on our culture. Israeli literature has lost one of its dear daughters. May she be blessed and remembered,” the minister added.

President Shimon Peres expressed grief at the news of Omer’s passing. In a condolence letter sent to her family, the president wrote that, “Devorah, peace be upon her, is considered a children’s writer but the truth is that she was was an important writer for parents. She taught parents how to educate their children, to love, evaluate and think.”

The president went on to describe Omer’s numerous achievements and contribution to Israeli literary culture.

“She left behind a legacy of courage that will keep on standing strong even after she has left us,” Peres concluded.

Omer is survived by her husband and their three children.

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