PERSONAL: Born in Israel. Education: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, B.A.; also studied television drama production in Scotland.
ADDRESSES: Home—Jerusalem, Israel. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Carroll & Graf, 245 West 17th St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10011-5300.
CAREER: Journalist for television and print. Former documentary editor and director in Israel and United Kingdom, including British Broadcasting Corp.
(With Eilat Negev) In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The Remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe—A Dwarf Family's Survival of the Holocaust, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor of articles and feature stories to British, Israeli, and German periodicals, including Saturday Times, London Guardian, London Daily Telegraph, and Die Welt.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Currently researching a book on Assia Wevil, poet Ted Hughes's lover, with Eilat Negev.
SIDELIGHTS: In their book In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The Remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe—A Dwarf Family's Survival of the Holocaust, Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev chronicle the lives of a family from Transylvania composed primarily of dwarves. The Ovitz family—seven dwarves and three siblings of normal stature—made a living as traveling performers prior to World War II. In 1944 the family members were sent together to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where their survival hinged upon pleasing the notorious doctor Josef Mengele. Subjected to dangerous medical experimentation, the Ovitz family managed to live through their imprisonment, and they also helped another family from their village to survive. Koren and Negev base their account of the family's perilous war years, and their subsequent immigration to Israel, on documents and the testimony of the last surviving Ovitz sibling, Perla, who died in 2001.
Ironically, the extended Ovitz family survived Auschwitz intact, one of only two families to do so. Because they were dwarves, they received better treatment than other Auschwitz inmates, although their stay there was by no means benign. Koren and Negev describe the family's relationship with Mengele and the continuing repercussions of trauma in the descending generations who moved to Israel. A Kirkus Reviews critic wrote of In Our Hearts We Were Giants, "Horrifying yet mesmerizing: the authors never overplay a potentially melodramatic hand, and no reader will fail to admire the Ovitzes." Booklist reviewer John Green called the work "a quirky, illuminating addition to Holocaust history," and a Publishers Weekly correspondent wrote that the harrowing episodes in this family's history "are unique and unforgettable."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2004, John Green, review of In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The Remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe—A Dwarf Family's Survival of the Holocaust, p. 1690.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of In Our Hearts We Were Giants, p. 484.
Publishers Weekly, May 17, 2004, review of In Our Hearts We Were Giants, p. 41.
OurJerusalem.com, http://www.ourjerusalem.com/ (November 10, 2004), review of In Our Hearts We Were Giants.*