Kishon, Ephraim 1924-2005

views updated

KISHON, Ephraim 1924-2005

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born August 23, 1924, in Budapest, Hungary; died of a heart attack January 29, 2005, in Switzerland. Journalist and author. Kishon was a bestselling columnist and playwright who used satire to critique flaws in Israeli society. He was born Ferenc Hoffmann in Hungary, and later suffered harrowing experiences at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust because he was Jewish. Fortunately, he was able to escape the Germans before being taken to the Sobibor concentration camp. A few years after the war, in 1949, he was able to immigrate to the new state of Israel, where he changed his name to Ephraim Kishon. Though he considered the existence of Israel a miracle, he was critical of many of the flaws he saw in how the government was run. In particular, he complained about the way new immigrants were treated. Kishon wrote about his opinions and observations under the pseudonym Ghad Gaja (which literally means "Little Lamb") in a regularly syndicated column for Ma'ariv in Tel Aviv. Because he used humor to soften his critical comments, his writings found a wide audience who accepted his work. He also wrote plays, nonfiction, and screenplays, gaining particular attention for the 1963 film Salah Shabati. These works were all written in Hebrew, which Kishon learned after moving to Israel, though many of them have been translated into English. Kishon spent much of his later life in Switzerland, often returning to Israel for visits. Among his many books are Look Back Mrs. Lot: Grins and Groans from the Holy Land (1960), Blow Softly Jericho (1970), No Oil, Moses (1975); plays such as Not a Word to Morgenstern: A Musical Farce (1960) and The License: A Comedy in Two Acts (1962); and the screenplays The Crook (1965) and The Fox in the Chicken Coop (1978).



Chicago Tribune, January 31, 2005, section 4, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2005, p. B9.

New York Times, January 31, 2005, p. A23.

Times (London, England), February 2, 2005, p. 54.

Washington Post, January 31, 2005, p. B6.