Episode 28

On the Outs

  • 58:19
  • 2017
There are a zillion ways of being an outsider. That, of course, we all know. But what does it mean to belong, why do we want it so badly, and just how far are we willing to go in order to be on the 'inside'?
On the Outs

Eli Amir, Eliyahu Rips and Eliezer Sonnenschein couldn’t be more different: the first is a celebrated Baghdad-born author, the second is a brilliant mathematician from Latvia, and the third is the enfant terrible of modern Israeli art. But they are all, in their own unique ways, outsiders. Their struggle for recognition took on different forms, and enjoyed – naturally – different degrees of success. But whether it’s the hora dancing circles at Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’Emek, the pages of prestigious statistical journals, or the hallowed galleries of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, our episode explores just how far we go to feel as if we belong.

Prologue: ‘Yeled Chutz’

Mishy Harman

Eli Amir takes Mishy Harman back to the early 1950s, and straight into the closed world of socialist kibbutzim. Amir and his family had just come to the nascent state of Israel from Iraq, and were placed in a ma’abara, a refugee absorption or transition camp. Life there was hard, and before long, twelve-and-a-half-year-old Eli was sent off to lead a better life on a HaShomer Ha’Tzair kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley. An endless string of culture shocks followed, and the kibbutz old-timers made sure Eli never forgot he was only a yeled chutz, an ‘outside child.’ But still, Amir – who is now one of Israel’s most beloved novelists – had but one wish: to “become one of them.”

Act I: Skipping the Torah

Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital delves into the world of intellectual peripheries, and asks what it’s like when your ideas are considered so far out that you lose all credibility. The unusual story of Eliyahu Rips begins in Riga, Latvia, with a radical act of political defiance. And it ends, almost half-a-century later, with a tired, if persistent, math professor fighting for academic legitimacy.

Act II: The Guerrilla Artist and the Guard

Zev Levi

Long before Banksy became a mysterious international star, Eliezer Sonnenschein from Haifa was being called an “artist/terrorist.” Zev Levi enters the heart of staid art institutions, and brings us the tale of one man who decided he would go as far as he possibly could to leave his mark.


The original music in ‘Skipping the Torah,’ was composed and performed by Ruth Danon. The final song, “Yeladim Kamonu”, is by Elai Botner and Yaldey Ha’Chutz. The episode also features music by KarolinaTristan LohengrinDana Boulé and Robert Schumann. It was edited by Julie Subrin and mixed by Sela Waisblum and Aviv Meshulam.

Thanks to Daniel Estrin, who did the original recordings for the Sonnenschein story, to Charles Monroe-Kane, Caryl Owen and all our friends at TTBOOK, to Prof. Hillel Furstenberg, to Ran Tal and to our beloved Eve Sneider and Dima Perevozchikov.


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