Esther Marcus lives with her husband, an Oleh from London, and their four children in Kibbutz Alumim. Together they live in the kibbutz only a few kilometers away from the threat of Hamas and their tunnels. In this setting, she came to write the story book “The Color Red.”
“I haven’t succeeded in understanding the British media, but it no longer bothers me because I would never return there anyway,” she tells me leisurely by a pool in Shefayim Water Park. She came to Shefayim with the entire kibbutz, deciding to have a day of respite in central Israel out of the line of fire. Her husband, a dairy farmer, couldn’t get away from his farm duties on the kibbutz, but Esther took the children along with the rest of the community.
By profession, Esther works as a social worker and also serves as the instructor of a drama club at the kibbutz. When the Kassam rockets from Gaza began raining on southern Israel, several years ago, Esther’s son decided he would escort the club members home so his mother wouldn’t be alone. Once he told his mother, “But when I leave you, I am alone, too.” That was when she realized the level of anxiety her children were facing, with the constant danger of rockets. “It pushed me to consider an alternative and easier solution on children’s anxiety.”
So Esther sat down to write her book. The storybook, “The Color Red”, where all the colors meet each other. Each color describes his role, and when the reader approaches the color red, he is the saddest because he fears that other children and colors dislike him: “When people hear the words ‘Color Red’, they automatically flee from me,” Red says. The other colors reply: “But Red, you help us a great deal. You are our friend, and you protect us from harm.”
“The red color suddenly becomes happy,” says Esther Marcus, “because he feels that his role is meaningful. Hopefully our children will internalize this message, where the alarms represent a positive call to safety, rather than a time for fear and anxiety. I hope this way they feel a little more in control when they hear ‘Color Red’ alarms.
“We see the importance of this kind of positive reinforcement because it builds the children’s confidence and strength, in a time when it is easy to feel weak and scared. It is very important for me that each child, even if he is a victim of terror, will be able to build for himself a mental set of armor.”
The story is an optimistic one, despite the current hardships. The illustrations were drawn by a Jerusalemite artist who adopted her sister’s child, after her sister was killed in a terrorist attack on bus 18 in Jerusalem during the intifada.
The children’s book was published in Kibbutz Alumim, as a non-profit project. Two years ago, Esther received financial support from donors and a grant from with The Jewish Agency in the United Kingdom, for her efforts to bring comfort to the minds and hearts of Israel’s most lost and impressionable youths.