National Library of Israel’s mobile library set to lighten life for children

December 27, 2023 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The National Library of Israel (NLI), in cooperation with the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Ministry of Education, launched its new bookmobile and offsite educational program yesterday at a festive event attended by children from displaced communities.

National Library’s Bookmobile Photo: Uri Bareket

The launch event, held at the David Geffen Auditorium at the new National Library of Israel building, was attended by children from the Kibbutz Or HaNer on the Gaza border, and children from their temporary host school in Jerusalem, the Zalman Aran School.

The brightly coloured van and accompanying materials, branded with a lovable ginger feline named “Ir-MEOW-hu the Library Cat,” will present a play for children, offer a program of games and puzzles, and provide children with time to browse and read the books filling the van’s bookshelves. At the end of each session, every child will receive a book as a gift.

The bookmobile will travel around the country and visit evacuees at some 40 centres serving persons displaced from Israel’s northern and southern border communities.

The books presented at the end of the activity are donated by several Israeli book publishers, including Matar Publishing, Hakibbutz Hameuchad-Sifriat Poalim, Am Oved, and others, with the assistance of the Israeli Association of Book Publishers.

Tsila Hayun, Head of the Education and Culture Department at the National Library of Israel, said, “In these difficult days, we all need magic that can create stories, words, and spirit – and children need it more than anyone. We at the National Library are setting out to bring something of the magic of stories to these children.”

Dr. Ariel Levy, Director-General of JDC Israel-Ashalim, said, “Many children in the border settlements were exposed on October 7 to harsh sights, some lost close family members, and almost all were displaced from their homes. It is important to now give them a supportive, inclusive environment, and create a safe, calm routine for them. The bookmobile is a first-class value and educational activity that helps children return to the learning experience in an intelligent and enriching way.”

Hana Laloche, Head of the Primary Education Division at the Ministry of Education, added: “I believe that the combined experience of performance, story, and activity, in the bookmobile’s unique and enveloping environment, and the people who come with it, will provide the children with an experience that works on all levels: emotional, social, and academic. This experience is part of many important processes that enable empowerment and resilience in these complicated times.”

The construction of the bookmobile was generously funded by Annie and Art Sandler, Jane and Stuart Weitzman, Sheila and Bob Josephberg. NLI’s bookmobile and mascot were designed by writer-illustrator Orit Bergman. The play, entitled “Not Just a Story,” was written and directed by Hanoch Reim.


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