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Generations of yesteryear still remember Betty Misheiker




Born in Pretoria and the youngest of four children, she spent her primary school years in Brits in the present Northwest Province and Johannesburg. When the family moved to a small town in the Bushveld, she remained at home, as unlike her siblings, she was too young to go to school in the nearest main town.

Her imaginary companions filled the void in her life, leading to her story writing.

When she moved back to Johannesburg, she tried several careers until, many years later, she drew her first giraffe cartoon and developed her writing talent.

At the start of the Second World War, she was a volunteer, working part-time as an ambulance driver for the mines.

She was married to Ronnie, a former newspaper editor, raising their own family and the children of her sister, who passed away at an early age.

Betty sent in her stories for publication, including “Handsome Piggy Wig” and “The Bear who wanted the Mostest”.

Eventually she produced educational material for children’s programme – radio, TV, children’s theatre and puppet shows. At the end of every year, she produced an hour-long Christmas special. She also produced numerous radio plays, radio musicals and “The Old Kabboly” was commissioned by the Marionette Theatre of the Johannesburg Civic Theatre to celebrate the 80th birthday of Johannesburg .

Her stories and songs cover a wide range of topics, especially animals, all dealing with educational subjects pertaining to children’s daily lives.

She used to say:It was an enormous challenge, each week, to make a new song and story about these animals. The songs would rise out of the story and they had to carry the story. The music would just start singing to me.”

“The music wasn’t the difficult thing, the lyrics were the hard part. How did the animal look? How can I describe this animal to a child… the way it looks? How can I teach a little child about a particular animal through an individual song and then it has to rhyme… and be light… not like a heavy educational lesson… but still a song that is informative to a child? My songs had to be informative and rise out of the subject matter.”

She won the coveted Japanese Minister of Education’s prize in a contest in which 69 countries competed.

She and Ronnie went on aliyah to Jerusalem in 1979, where she continued her work even as a mother and grandmother, working with Israel TV.

The popularity and recognition of Betty’s stories and songs increased over many years and, even today has a following, spanning 50 years, with among ensuing generations, always searching for educational material and entertainment, which the magic of her material provides.

She was described as “a woman of integrity, strength and a passionate love for Israel”.


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