An enormous crowd of admirers turned up at her recent funeral. From members of government to those in the arts and sciences, all came to pay their last respects to the beloved author. Minister of Culture Limor Livnat expressed her deep sorrow, and called her “the greatest writer for children and youth in the history of Hebrew literature,” elaborating: “Devora Omer gave unusual expression to values of Zionism and made them an important part of our lives.”
Livnat’s sentiments were echoed by many others, among them Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich, who confessed that with the passing of the great author she felt as if she had lost a close relative. Member of Knesset.Shuli Moallem Refaeli of Habayit Hayehudi added, “Devora Omer’s books told the story of the state: she was like a fountainhead of culture and creativity which will be preserved and taught for generations.”
Devora Mosenzon was born October 9, 1932, on Kibbutz Ma’oz Haim in Mandatory Palestine. Her parents served in the military: her father, Moshe Mosenzon, was a newspaper editor in the Jewish Brigade, while her mother served in the Haganah, a pre-state military organization. Tragically, her mother’s life was cut short: she was killed in a training accident when Devora was eleven years old. Bereft of maternal care, Dvora was raised by the kibbutz.
The kibbutz granted Devora’s wish to continue her education and by 1952 she had completed her studies, and became a teacher. Being a teacher provided contact with youth and awakened Devora’s latent literary talent and simultaneous desire to communicate with them, and so she began to write books for young adults. In addition to writing and adapting more than 100 books for children and youth, she wrote plays, radio scripts, a novel for adults, and personal columns in several children’s magazines.
One of the most prolific and popular children’s writers in Israel, Devora received many awards, including the Yatziv Prize (1959), the Lamdan Prize (1967, 1981), the Ministry of Education Prize (1973), the Prime Minister’s Prize (1979), an Andersen International Honor Citation (1986), the Ze’ev Prize (1981, 1991), the Janusz Korczak Medal (1987), the Hadassah Prize (2002), the Ministry of Education Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2005), and the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2006).
Her books were primarily biographies of famous figures in Israel’s history, written in an attractive style that drew young readers. Her volumes about famous figures across the spectrum of Israel’s past and present — David Ben Gurion, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, Itamar Ben Avi, Sarah Aharonson, The Teheran Operation: The Rescue of Jewish Children from the Nazis, etc– recorded in a fascinating manner the life of the new-born ancient Homeland.
Devora Mozenson Omer, is mourned not only by husband Shmuel and son Gil, but by an admiring nation for whom she served as a fountainhead of culture.