27. Tzipi Gon Gross
Psychologist, Writer, Editor and IDF Radio Show Host of “Sfarim Rabotai Sfarim”
Created by Hans Christian Andersen in the 19th century, The Ugly Duckling was awkward and unsightly and so rejected and mistreated. In the 20th century, Elmer the Elephant (Bentzi in the Hebrew version) by David McKee, stood out among gray elephants due to the unique color patches on his body, and feared he was being ridiculed.
In society, particularly during childhood, those considered different are new olim, children with autism, children with different skin colors, and those who are exceptionally tall, or overweight, among others.
People different than ourselves elicit curiosity, apprehension, and challenge what is familiar and known to us, and therefore for the most part, are rejected.
The strength of a chain is determined by its weakest link. A society that includes a diverse range of individuals is one that is healthy and robust. Such a society is capable of developing and thriving.
Israel has made progress in recent years – advertisements include individuals with different skin colors, some models are thin others are full, the Shalva band features performers with special needs, and the youth movement Knafaiim Shel Krembo bring together youth with and without disabilities…but we still have a long way to go, and efforts must begin at an early age both in educational settings and at home.