A spotlight on Ronit Tapiero

11.10.2020 | Photo: Van Leer Multimedia

The Van Leer Institute is not only an intellectual institution engaged in the development of groundbreaking ideas. Nor is it merely an impressive building at the heart of an elegant campus in Jerusalem. For us, the institute's employees, Van Leer is mainly a place of real friendship, of teamwork, and of mutual support.

So who are we, the employees? We decided to turn the spotlight every now and then to the women and men who are at the heart of the institute's activity, to allow others to experience some of what we experience here every day.

We went out and interviewed employees to bring you a somewhat different perspective on the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

This time we will shed the spotlight on Ronit Tapiero.

Ronit is a scientific editor and head of editing at Van Leer Institute Press. Hundreds of researchers and academics know Ronit because she edited their manuscripts. Most of them have never met her but only corresponded with her, and in any case did not have the pleasure of knowing Ronit beyond their professional relationship.


Ronit, who are you? What was your life like before Van Leer?

I was born in Tel Aviv, and grew up in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Herzliya. I served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a noncommissioned officer for social services at the naval base in Eilat. After the service I was a flight attendant at El Al, and then I went to Hebrew University for a BA in psychology and French literature. Subsequently I did an MA in Hebew language and studied language editing. At the University I met Carlos, and after we got married we went to Guatemala for a couple of years, which extended to 12 years, in which we had three children. In Guatemala I was, among other things, the representative of the United Israel Appeal and a translator for the Israeli Embassy. We came back to Israel in July 2001, straight into the atrocities of the second intifada. I was shocked and confused. Life in Guatemala was so different! I decided to go back to the university and continue my editing studies (which I hadn't completed before our trip). In October 2006, after working for a few years as a freelance editor and translator, I began working at the Institute. I recently did an MA in European studies. In the next academic year I will start teaching scientific editing at the Hebrew University – a kind of closing of a circle, which makes me very happy – as well as academic reading and writing at Hadassah College.

And how does that relate to what you do at the Institute?

Everything is connected: I love to study and I love to read. I was always a bookworm, and it has been a great privilege to turn my hobby into a profession.

What is the ideal society in your opinion?

Moral and just, liberal, equal, pluralistic, democratic, orderly, peace- and justice-loving, open to the world, compassionate and not alienated. A society that appreciates refinement, beauty and good taste (in every sense), rich in cultural and artistic creation, which cultivates broad education, independent thinking, and good character.

Could you give us some insight from your work?

Clear writing reflects clear thinking.

And what isn't written in your CV?

That music is a very important part of my life, especially English rock.


Could we sum it up in one word?

When you grow up you will be:
I'm already pretty grown-up but everything is open.

If you weren't an editor you would be:
I have nothing exotic to say. Maybe a curator. Or a lawyer.

What is the most important discipline?
Literature – which contains every kind of wisdom.

The best theoretical concept:
Aufhebung in Hegel's dialectic because it expresses the constant development of the intellect.

The most important or most valuable intellectual/researcher:
That is an impossible question... One of them is definitely Karl Polanyi, whose book we are about to publish.

Your corner at Van Leer:
My office.

The Van Leer Institute is:
A beloved home.


Thank you dear Ronit. I will see you in the kitchenette...

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