Heroes of our time: The historical-political context of Devorah Omer's novels

Rima Shikhmanter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines Devorah Omer's first two historical children's novels, Ben-Yehuda's Eldest Son and Sarah, Heroine of NILI (both published in 1967), as a case study for the ideological role played by historical fiction for children and youth in 1960s Israel. A comparison of the novels with the historical sources on which Omer relied reveals how the selection of the figures of Sarah Aaronsohn and Itamar Ben-Avi allowed her to create a narrative that crossed the political divide while presenting the difficulties experienced by children and women in their encounters with the national myth. Omer's novels thus play a dual role: they preserve the Zionist narrative and shape a collective memory consistent with the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state, while also raising issues that call into question the national narrative's hegemonic status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-125
Number of pages16
JournalIsrael Studies Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • 1960s Israel
  • Children's literature
  • Collective memory
  • Devorah Omer
  • Historical novels
  • Zionist narrative


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