Bambi, Amazing Jews, and Amazing Christians

Bambi’s author was a Hungarian-born Zionist
The author of the classic Bambi, which appeared in 1923 and which Walt Disney turned into an animated film in 1942, was known as Felix Salten. But his real name was Siegmund Salzmann. Like the Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl, he was born in Budapest and moved to Vienna, where he became a writer and a journalist, writing for the Neue Freie Presse, the same paper Herzl wrote for.

These interesting facts turned up in an interview in today’s Ha’aretz literary section with our neighbor Michael Dak, whose new Hebrew translation of Bambi has just come out. The book was translated into Hebrew in 1941 and again in 1977. But Hebrew has changed so rapidly that those translations, like others of their time, sound dreadfully archaic and are virtually unintelligible to today’s children.

According to Dak, in 1925 Salten wrote a travel diary of his visit to Palestine in which he commented, “As a Jew I would be embarrassed to the depths of my soul if I did not help and contribute to the best of my ability to the building of Palestine.”

Hitler banned Salten’s books in 1936, according to Wikipedia. In 1938, Salten escaped Nazi-occupied Austria to Zurich, where he lived until his death in 1945. For more information about Salten see (in German) Felix Salten: Der unbekannte Bekannte (Felix Salten: The Unknown Known Person).

Israel’s Christians have lowest fertility, highest employment rate
Christians in Israel, who number 154,500, making up just 2% of the population, stand out for their high employment rate, academic excellence, and small families, according to statistics from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, published recently by Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Of these Christians, 80.4% are Arabs and the remainder are mainly Christians who immigrated with Jewish family members (mostly from the Former Soviet Union). These numbers do not include the quarter million labor migrants, most of whom are Christian, or the thousands of asylum seekers.

One of the most striking facts is the longstanding success of Israel’s Christians in earning a matriculation certificate (one of the requirements for admission to a university). In the 2010 school year, 63% of the Christian 12th-grade students earned a matriculation certificate compared with 46% of the Muslims, 55% of the Druse, and 58% of the Jews. Among Christian students working for a bachelors degree, 11.4% were studying law. Medicine is another popular field.

Christian men marry later than other Israelis and Christian families have fewer children. In 2011, a Christian woman was expected to bear 2.1 during her lifetime. In comparison, a Muslim woman was expected to bear 3.8 children, a Jewish woman 3.0 children, and a Druse woman 2.5 children.

In 2010, Christian men had a higher rate of participation in the civilian workforce than Jewish men (64.2% as compared with 62.4%), and the percentage of unemployment for both men and women was lower than that of Jews.

Text copyright 2012 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text may be used without written permission of the author.


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5 Responses to “Bambi, Amazing Jews, and Amazing Christians”

  1. Alisa Anthony Says:

    brief historical explanations in a document on wikizionism can be added for more information about Walt disney Co. and the Jewish people relations.

  2. David Says:

    So Bambi is Jewish. How interesting.

    Let’s see: Bambi’s mother is shot by hunters and Bambi finds the strength to lead his people to safety.

    Now I can see the parallel with the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

    Given the state of anti-semitism in Europe at the turn of the 20th century, it is not much of a jump to imagine what was in the mind of Siegmund Salzmann when he wrote Bambi.

    • estherhecht Says:

      According to the article in Ha’aretz, the book had a more general meaning, symbolizing for Europe the loss of innocence in the horrors of World War I. But if your interpretation fits, why not?

  3. Tamara Colloff-Bennett Says:

    Fascinating to learn about the author of ‘Bambi’ here, Esther.

    How odd to think of a Viennese newspaper journalist being the author of ‘Bambi’ – I would never have paired the two realities together. Such a memorable plot line the story has, of course, who can forget when Bambi’s mother was killed, it was horrific to watch as a child in the Disney version.

    But very political in its own way, of course, with its rightful sympathy for Bambi whose life has been so fractured by man (i.e., the hunters), so in that way I can see it coming from the mind of a thoughtful journalist…

    And thank you for these illuminating statistics about Israel’s Christians, I appreciate the thoroughness of your writing with the statistics that you have compared.
    Just read David’s and your comments above, so I see I didn’t view the plot line as Ha’aretz did – but I will let my comments stay as is for it is how I have always thought of the story.

    • estherhecht Says:

      Thanks, Tamara. There are so many ways to interpret even a children’s story. Each time I read The Cat in the Hat I to a child I have new thoughts about its meaning.

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