Ephraim Kishon Passes Away

January 29, 2005

Israeli writer, playwright and film writer/director Ephraim Kishon passes away at the age of 80 in Switzerland.  Known for their satire, Kishon’s works often focused on the day to day struggles of the regular Israeli and the bureaucracy of the state.

His satirical films include Sallah Shabati (1964) and The Policeman (1971), which both won the Golden Globe Award for best Foreign Film and were nominated for Academy Awards.

Kishon was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1924 and was imprisoned by the Nazis before escaping from a train bound for Sobibor and hiding in Budapest with a family of “righteous gentiles.”  In 1949, he immigrated to Israel where after spending a year learning Hebrew, he wrote a satirical column for the daily newspaper Ma’ariv.  In his column, he created a series a of memorable characters that resonated with Israelis.

Ephraim Kishon’s books are bestsellers in 37 languages and have sold over forty million copies.  Despite his immense popularity, he was never fully embraced by Israel’s cultural elite.  In 2002, he was  awarded the Israel Prize for Life Achievement (shown in the photo).  The prize committee noted, “Ephraim Kishon reflected in his writing the face of Israeli society and the problems of absorption during the early years of the state, and so contributed immensely to national morale and the solid integration of the waves of immigrants.”