Ruchama King Feuerman is the author of the new children's book The Mountain Jews and the Mirror. Her other work includes the novels In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist and Seven Blessings, both for adults. She lived in Israel for 10 years, and now lives in Passaic, New Jersey.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Mountain Jews and the Mirror?
A: I first heard the kernel of the tale from a fellow writer, Ira Berkowitz, and saw its potential as a children’s story. I was particularly excited because I’m always on the lookout for stories from Morocco – my mother hails from Casablanca.
I suggested to Ira to make it into a story, but he wasn’t interested and gave me a free hand to do with it what I liked. So I tweaked and adapted it to the point that I no longer recall the original nugget.
The truth is, stories are flitting past us all the time. If we could just press the Halt or Pause button, we might see them. I can’t help wondering how many stories I miss on a daily basis.
Q: What do you hope young readers take away from the story?
A: Sometimes you need a mirror to know how beautiful or wise or special you are.
Q: What age group do you think would enjoy the book most?
A: I think the age group is three to seven.
Q: As someone who's written for children and adults, do you have a preference?
A: To be honest, I don’t know yet. Ask me in a few years after I’ve really immersed myself in writing for children.
Still, I remember reading books as a child, and after each one I’d hold it close like a stuffed toy and think, this is the best book I’d ever read. I loved it with a passion and intensity I don’t find I have today when I read.
Maybe that’s because I wasn’t yet crammed full of experiences. Less clutter. So a book had a chance to have an effect, leave a real impression, maybe even save a kid from a crummy childhood.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on short stories for adults, and a children’s folktale about the most obnoxious beggar in the whole shtetl. I particularly like how almost all the characters in it – the beggars and the holy seer – are women.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. For a previous Q&A with Ruchama King Feuerman, please click here.