Amos Oz Is Born in Jerusalem

May 4, 1939

Israeli author, journalist and intellectual Amos Oz is born as “Amos Klausner” in Jerusalem during the British Mandate.  His mother will commit suicide when he is twelve, and at fourteen, he will run away from home and move to Kibbutz Ḥulda in the center of the country, to become one of the “new race of rugged pioneers”[1] building the foundation of the Zionist state.  He will then change his last name from the Yiddish “Klausner” to the Hebrew “Oz,” meaning “strength” or “courage.”  As an adult, he will move to Arad in the Israeli South in 1986.

His more than thirty works will include The Hill of Evil Counsel, Panther in the Basement, In the Land of Israel, My Michael, the autobiographical A Tale of Love and Darkness, short story collections, non-fiction and three children’s books. His writing will examine the “suffering, searching, conflicted Israeli soul.”[2] It will be translated into forty-one languages, including Arabic.  He will hold various academic positions including the S.Y. Agnon Chair in Hebrew Literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He will earn both the prestigious Israel Prize and the Goethe Prize.

Serving in the Israeli army and fighting as a reservist in two wars, Oz will become an outspoken advocate for a two state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after the Six Day War in 1967. He will frequently criticize the Israeli government’s political and military policies. In 1978, Oz will become a founding member of the Peace Now movement.  Discussing his political involvement in a 2012 interview with Hadassah Magazine, he will remark, “in the English and American traditions writers are regarded as fine and subtle entertainers.  In the Jewish-Slavic tradition they are often expected to show the way.”

The complete profile of Oz in Hadassah Magazine is linked here.