Nisim Aloni’s terrifying ‘To Be a Baker’ – Israel in Translation


Nisim Aloni was born into a poor family in the South Tel Aviv neighborhood of Florentine in 1926. He enlisted in the Notrut, a Jewish militia operating as an auxiliary police alongside the British, and he fought in the 1948 war.

Though Aloni is best known for his theater plays, he also wrote short stories. ‘To Be a Baker,’ translated by Tirza Sandbank, opens the anthology 50 Stories from Israel, compiled by Zisi Stavi and published in English in 2007. The book represents the first 50 years of Israeli statehood through 50 short stories neatly divided into three generations.

Told through the eyes of a child working in a bakery during his summer vacation, the story is sensuously and deliciously described, with a hint of the supernatural. Are the moans of the oven fires really the voices of the girls whose souls the ‘Sultana’ (the blind mother of the baker) has sacrificed for the money to build the bakery?

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50 Stories from Israel. An Anthology. Edited by Zisi Stavi. Yedioth Ahronoth and Chemed Books (2007 & 2010).



The Telephone song – Hagashash Hachiver

Song of the Paletin – Nisim Aloni (music by Alex Kagan, words by Shimon Bar)

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