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Friday, December 19, 2014

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Former journalist writes children’s book

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Aliza Davidovit

What does a seasoned journalist and author do after leaving a career of interviewing many of the world’s high-profile leaders, diplomats and decision makers?

She writes a children’s book.

Montreal-born Aliza Davidovit made a career for herself working on the ABC news magazine program 20/20 with Connie Chung and as a producer at Fox News Channel. She’s also written numerous profiles of celebrities and diplomats for a wide array of magazines and journals, much of it centred on Israel advocacy.

Now that she’s out of the TV news game – though she still ghost-writes biographical material for many prominent personalities – her most recent effort is something much less politically weighty, though as important as any story she’s ever covered: a morality tale for children called Spunky the Monkey.

Written by Davidovit and illustrated by Montreal artist Bec Eichler, the kids’ bedtime book follows the exploits of a little monkey who is sick of his steady diet of bananas and longs for a pizza.

So he decides to steal one and is quickly apprehended. To say any more is to give away the plot, suffice it to say a lesson in appreciating what one has and how one’s actions impact others is learned.

The book is a smorgasbord of vibrant colours and amusing drawings by Eichler’s hand, and the rhyming narrative proves a fun read for children ages three to seven.

(This writer tested the book out on his own daycare- and kindergarten-aged children, to their delight.)

 Reached in New York, where she is now based, Davidovit told The CJN she wanted to change her direction after tiring of the political sphere.

Working in the U.S. “ego-driven” news sphere for the past 18 years made her realize that her focus should be on children and how to influence them to make moral decisions in life.

“I don’t think one can really make change [as a journalist] using words in the U.S. political realm,” she said. “I realized in that world, even though I’m using my words and the full force of my talents and abilities and exposure, it’s hard to make change in the world. Especially because [politicians] are so ego-driven. Congressmen or senators know the answers before I even ask my questions. It really doesn’t matter what my question is. They have an agenda and throw their answers at me. I can’t pierce that world.

“Like I said, everything I do is to make this world a better place and from the heart. This year I’ll be ordained as a rabbi, and I carry a sefer Torah in my heart wherever I go,” she said.

Though she has no children of her own, Davidovit, who was married to an Orthodox rabbi for 10 years before leaving him, is a firm believer in Jewish values.

And she is an aunt to numerous family members.

“Pretty much everything I do, whether in journalism or Israel advocacy, is always [with the mission] to not just make people see the light, but to be the light. To be the proponent of good thoughts and deeds,” she said.

And it all starts with youth, she said.

In order to change the future of the world – “which is going to hell in a hand basket,” she said – one has to start with the children.

“You can’t change prime ministers and diplomats, so I felt it was time” to try and get a message of positivity to kids, Davidovit said.

Today’s adults, she said, are so busy trying to give their children the things they didn’t have, they forget to give kids the things they did have.

“Which is a work ethic, a sense of values, appreciation for things… these things are lacking in today’s society. There’s such a sense of entitlement among children and teenagers,” she said. “Boy oh boy, I’m scared for future generations if we don’t change this.”

Davidovit said she grew up learning a work ethic and respect for her elders because her mother worked in the nursing-home industry.

“When you look at kids today, the way they talk to their parents, never mind their grandparents… there’s no respect. Where do you go from that?” she asked.

This year, she plans to go on a speaking and reading tour in promotion of Spunky the Monkey, and the first place she has targeted to launch the tour is in Montreal at United Talmud Torahs elementary school in St. Laurent.

“It will be interesting to go back there in this capacity,” she said.

Davidovit plans on turning the book into a series of books and lessons for kids, using a different animal for each.

“Look, parents today are so open-minded, their brains fell out. Kids need to learn right and wrong. Black and white. You can’t leave it to them to decide what’s right or not,” she said. “They need to hear over and over the difference between right and wrong, so that when the parent isn’t around, at least their voice and lessons are still present and hakking their kops [beating them over their heads].”

Asked whether she plans to have the book published in Hebrew and other languages and how many copies were made in the initial print run, Davidovit demurs.

“I’m still pushing the English version, but many people have asked me whether I’ll translate it into Hebrew and French and other languages. I’m considering it,” she said.

As for the numbers, Davidovit won’t divulge publishing statistics for fear of hurting its distribution among youth.

“In the Talmud it says, ‘Whatever is counted isn’t blessed.’”

For more information, visit:  www.davidovit.com/bookstore

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