Yehudit Hendel: Writing on the Fringe
2011 Dina Ripsman Eylon and Sisterhood PressAll rights reserved. There is to be no reproduction or distribution of contents by any means without prior permission.
3The first edition of
Anashim Aherim Hem
included seven short stories. Four dealtexclusively with the aftermath of the 1948 war. Loss of loved ones and the disabilitiesincurred during the various battles are themes frequently revisited. "
,” (HeLost His Memory) one of the stories written in 1948 and added to the 2000 revisededition, is a delicate, touching narrative about a young man who suffers a head woundduring the war and consequently loses his memory. The story is told from the point of view of his live-in girlfriend, whose reality becomes completely shattered as a result of the young man’s injury. Although composed in the same year, this story differssignificantly in theme and style from the title story, “
Anashim aherim hem
” (They AreDifferent) in which Hendel exposes the social inequality between new immigrants andnative-born Israelis. Told from the point of view of the immigrants, the underdogs,Hendel depicts the prejudice and stereotypical attitudes held by the native-born Israelistoward the newcomers, whom they regard as their social inferiors. In a similar fashion,the author sides with the victims of war, the disabled and the displaced, becoming their champion, even though Hendel herself was a member of the
and performedmilitary related activities.In 1955, Hendel published her first novel,
Street of Steps
in 1963). Unlike
Anashim Aherim Hem
, which went out of print quicklyand was essentially ignored by the critics,
became an instant best-seller. It won the Asher Barash Award, saw several editions, and was adapted for thestage in 1958. A story of love in modern Israel, the novel portrays discrimination andalienation between Jews of different ethnic backgrounds in the early years of the State.Against the backdrop of the hills of Haifa, two young people, Avram "Ram" Bekhar, aSephardic Jew, and Erella "Ella" Dagan, from an Ashkenazi background, fall in love.From the outset it is obvious that their romance is ill-fated, largely due to strongopposition from Erella’s father. Hendel’s artistic talent intertwines a sophisticatednarrative using both dynamic and one-dimensional characters. The protagonists’ socialstatus is echoed in the ascending and descending of the hundreds of steps leading fromHaifa’s coast to the top of Mount Carmel.After a long period of silence, Hendel published her second novel,
Ha-Hatzer Shel Momo Ha-Gdola
(The Yard of Momo the Great) in 1969. Also known in its revised