March 23, 2016
Aharon Megged, who won almost every literary prize in Israel, including the S.Y. Agnon Prize, Prime Minister’s Prize, President’s Prize and 2003 Israel Prize, dies in Tel Aviv at age 95. He wrote 35 books, as well as plays, skits and articles, and nurtured other writers, including novelist A.B. Yehoshua.
Born in Wloclawek, Poland, in 1920 as Aharon Greenberg, he moved to Palestine with his family in 1926. His parents, both teachers, instilled a love of literature in him and his brother, Mattityahu, a poet. His wife, Eda Zorittee-Magid, his son Eyal, and his daughter-in-law Zeruya Shalev are also writers.
Megged worked on kibbutzim for at least 12 years, and many of his literary works focus on that world. From 1946 to 1948, he recruited American Jews to make aliyah with HeHalutz Hatzair. Beginning in 1968, he spent three years in London as the cultural attaché at the Israeli Embassy. He co-founded and for 15 years edited the weekly Masa literary publication. He also was the literary editor at LaMerhav and Davar, for which he also wrote a regular column. He was a member of the Academy of Hebrew Language.
Megged typically featured outsiders in books such as “Fortunes of a Fool.” He reflected on Israeli society, including what he saw as the state’s moral degeneration after the War of Independence and its rejection of religion. “The Living on the Dead” discusses how the current generation of Israelis failed to meet the expectations of the founding generation, and “A Journey in the Month of Av” talks about the Yom Kippur War and its ramifications for Israeli society. He also wrote several pieces on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.