As a polyglot I love learning about other cultures and languages. Recently I had the honor to read and review Noa Nimrodi’s book Birds Can Fly So Can I. After learning that the book was originally written in Hebrew I wanted to find out more about this intriguing author.
Please tell me about your childhood. Where did you grow up?
I am the first born in a family of four kids. When I was 4 to 6 years old I spent two years in Pasadena California with my parents and sister, during that time my brother and younger sister were born. A few years later we spent another two years in the States, this time in Charlottesville Virginia, where I attended fifth and sixth grades. Both these periods in America were due to my father’s academic studies (until this day he is a Professor at the Tel-Aviv University). Coming back from the US for the second time we returned to Tel-Aviv.
Can you explain what life was like living in Jerusalem?
I left Jerusalem when I was about 10 years old, but the memories I have from those days are all wonderful ones. We lived in a neighborhood consisting mostly of families of the staff from the Hebrew University, and I recall being outdoors a lot. All neighbors seemed to be one big happy family.
Did you experience any culture shock when you relocated to the United States?
Growing up back and forth between the States and Israel, the only recollection I have of something I can call culture-shock, was coming back to Israel in seventh grade. I felt so misplaced that the kids in school thought at first that I came from America and I did not speak Hebrew
How long did it take you to learn English? Do you still speak Hebrew?
The answer to your previous questions demonstrates how I learned English…
Hebrew is my first language. I speak it at home with my children and with my husband. (and of course with all my family and friends back home in Israel).
Do you have any children? If so, are they fluent in Hebrew?
I have a 16 year old son, and two daughters 13, and nine years old. We have been here for less than two years. So, of course all three kids are fluent in Hebrew. As for English…My two older kids spoke English fairly well when we got here. My youngest, seven at the time, did not speak a word of English. She is now fluent, and even picked up the accent.
How different is the educational system in Israel as compared to that of the United States?
I would like to consider the educational system in Israel similar to that of the US, but there are quite a few differences. To name a few: The school week is six days. Sunday is the first day of the week, and Saturday is the only day off from school. The kids stay with the same group of class-mates all through school (six years of elementary, for example). The classroom is the kid’s class, and the teachers are the ones to move from one class to the other. On top of the subjects learned in the States, starting second grade, the kids study English as a main subject, and have a couple of hours a week of bible studies.
What do you do for work? How many books have you authored?
I have authored two books so far, the second I illustrated myself, and I am now in process of translating it to English.
In College I studied Total Design (Graphic, product, interior and more). I have worked as a package designer, later on as a window-shop designer for the largest book chain in Israel (Stimatzky), which I guess got me interested in writing Children’s books. For a short period of time I worked as a kid’s furniture designer, and then decided to go back to school. Right at the time I studied Jewelry-Metalsmithing, I published my first book. During these three years of making jewelry I published my second book. A year after finishing school I was asked to teach at the same college I graduated from, and I did so up until the time we left Israel. I found that teaching someone else something you master, is even more rewarding than practicing it yourself, and it improves your own skills at the same time.
What would you say to today’s youth concerning being open minded about other cultures and languages?
I would like the youth to realize one simple thing: People are People, no matter what language they speak and where they live on the face of our earth.
People come in different shapes and sizes. The kind of person you are has to do mostly with the personality you were born with and the kind of person your parents brought you up to be. In the last decades The world has become sort of a global village. Most of us are exposed to the same books, movies, music, fashion and… junk food. Cultural differences still exist and it’s a good thing – our similarities should help us explore different cultures than our own, and accept them. This acceptance should hopefully lead to more tolerance and understanding around the world. As John Lennon put it in the Beatles song, “Imagine” – “…and the world will live as one.”
(For more information about Noa Nimrodi please visit her site at:
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