In Hava Deevon’s picture book, BAREFOOT IN THE SAND (Green Bean Books, 2023) Saul, a young boy from Romania, grows up hearing stories about the Land of Israel and spends his whole life imagining himself walking on the warm sand in bare feet. When Saul’s dream is fulfilled and he finally arrives in Israel as an adult, he crosses paths with another Jewish man whose journey to Israel began in Yemen. Their connection to each other is heartwarming and inspiring. Rotem Teplow’s beautiful illustrations enhance the story.
BAREFOOT IN THE SAND is a celebration of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people from all corners of the world.
In BAREFOOT IN THE SAND, you tell the story of Saul, a Romanian who longs to live in Israel his whole life. What inspired you to create a story about Saul and his dream?
The inspiration for the story of Barefoot in the Sand came from two directions, that are actually one. Let me explain: One day I came across a small article, on the edge of a newspaper page, in which the writer told about his grandfather’s two promises he made to himself for the day he came to Israel. One was to pray and thank, and the other was to take his shoes off and walk barefoot in the worm Israeli sand.
He also wrote about how Jewish people used to identify each other and greet each other by completing prayer verses.
As soon as I read the sweet story, I thought of my parents. Their parents also dreamed of the Land of Israel, but my parents got to fulfill the dream. Both made Aliya to Israel all by themselves, met each other, got married and built their home in the tiny city Jerusalem, of those days. And that’s how we, my brothers and I, got to be Jerusalemites without going on the journey our parents went on, or the journey the characters of the story went on.
I was so inspired by these stories, that I called this man and got his permission to develop the short story into a children’s book, and so it was.
In the end, Saul connects with, Solomon, who turns out to have had the same dream of walking barefoot on the beach in Tel Aviv. But Solomon has traveled from Yemen. They are different, yet have much in common. What do you hope young readers take away from their connection?
I hope the young readers (and their parents 😊) enjoy the story and understand that no matter where we come from all over the world, no matter where we grow up, or what language we speak, there is something so great and so awesome connecting us. It makes me smile 😊
Through Saul’s journey in BAREFOOT IN THE SAND, what do you hope to share about Israeli communities?
Just a few days ago was the holiday of Yom Kippur. On the night before Yom Kippur there were 70,000 people praying at the western wall in the old city of Jerusalem. They were Jewish people of all colors and sizes, origin and age, from communities from all over Israel and the Jewish world, and they all sang the beautiful prayers together.
What were your thoughts when you first saw Rotem Teplow’s beautiful illustrations?
I couldn’t believe my little story is actually going to become a children’s book, and then I couldn’t believe it would look so lovely as it did. So grateful to Rotem’s talent, but also to her insights and thought.
Thank you, Hava!
Hava Deevon is a Jerusalemite, scriptwriter, screenwriter and graduate of the Ma’ale Film School in Jerusalem, where she lectures on scriptwriting and screenwriting and she also mentors students. Hava is the co-creator and writer of the award-winning TV show Srugim, and a scriptwriter of screenplays for Israeli television and Israeli films and the ultra-Orthodox film industry.