Ephraim Kishon dies at 80

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Switzerland, Israel — Ephraim Kishon, Israeli author, satirist, playwright, screenwriter, and film director, died of a heart attack in his home in Appenzell, Switzerland, Saturday night. He was interred on February 1, in the Trumpeldor St. cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel.

He was born on August 23, 1924, in Budapest, Hungary, as Ferenc Hoffmann. A prisoner in a Hungarian concentration camp, he escaped during the journey to the extermination camp of Sobibor. He returned home to find his family alive and joined them in hiding until the end of the war.

Changing his name to Ferenc Kishont, he worked as a writer in a pro-communist satirical magazine until fleeing to Israel with his first wife, Eva, in 1949. There, an immigration clerk changed his name to the Hebrew Ephraim Kishon (אפרים קישון), which he had used ever since. Recently, he lived in both Switzerland and Israel.

A worldwide bestselling author, his books and short stories were translated into 37 languages. He also wrote a regular column in Maariv, wrote numerous plays, and created several films, amongst which are Sallah (סלאח שבתי), which won two Golden Globe awards and was nominated for an Academy award, and The Policeman (השוטר אזולאי), which won one Golden Globe award and was nomniated for an Academy Award.

He won many awards over the years, including the Israeli Nordau Prize for Literature (1953), the Israeli Sokolov Prize for Journalism (1958), the Israeli Kinor David Prize (1964), and the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2002).

Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, said in a eulogy: "Ephraim Kishon was one of the giants of Israeli culture, who created an entire cultural world for a country in formation; he created an entire world of culture for the country."

Prior to the funeral, his coffin was placed on the morning of February 1, in the Journalists' House in Tel Aviv, where his friends, colleagues, family, and fans, payed their lasts respects to him. Amongst them was Israeli Minister of Education, Limor Livnat, and Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai.

Kishon left behind his third wife, Lisa, and children Raphael, Amir and Renana.