Ruth Bondy as a young woman.
(photo credit: COURTESY YAD VASHEM)
Prizewinning and prolific journalist, author and translator Ruth Bondy died on Tuesday at age 94. She will be buried at 1 p.m. on Thursday, at Kibbutz Givat Haim (Ihud).
A Czech-born Holocaust survivor who did not want to be known only as such, Bondy, who lost more than 20 of her close relatives in the Holocaust, had the number that she received on her arm in Auschwitz surgically removed after immigrating to Israel in 1948.
Like many Czech Jews, she had a broad education, which to a large extent prepared her for a career in journalism in that she was curious about almost everything.
Her journalistic career in Israel began with the now defunct Davar newspaper. Working out of Haifa, she initially wrote for the paper’s simple-Hebrew edition, which was largely for the benefit of new immigrants who were not yet sufficiently fluent in the language to read a regular newspaper. In a relatively short time, she was writing for the news edition of Davar, but preferred writing human interest stories, and is credited with having developed this genre in Israel.
In addition to a 30-year career in journalism, during which she was awarded inter alia the prestigious Sokolov prize, Bondy also wrote more than 50 books and translated the works of Czech writers into Hebrew. Her own books have been translated into Czech.
The books that she authored herself were mainly biographies, which were more or else extensions of her human interest focus in journalism.
Although she wanted to distance herself from her personal Holocaust experiences, Bondy’s first book was about Enzo Sereni, who parachuted into wartime Italy, was instantly caught and taken to Dachau, where he was shot.
She subsequently wrote about Yaakov Edelstein, who was the head of the Judenrat in Theresienstadt. She herself had been deported to Theresienstadt, before she was deported to Auschwitz and later Bergen- Belsen.
She did eventually write about her own Holocaust experiences in her autobiography, making it clear that no matter how successful any Holocaust was in building a new life after the war, the memory of what he or she had endured would haunt them forever, and would suddenly introduce itself into events totally unrelated to the Holocaust.
In addition to her unique writing skills, Bondy was a radio broadcaster, appearing in the popular Israel Radio series of the 1950s “Three in a Boat.”
In addition to her writing, she taught journalism at Tel Aviv University.
In 2002, she was chosen to be among the beacon lighters at the opening ceremony of Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem and delivered the memorial address.
She was subsequently one of several Holocaust survivors featured in a Yad Vashem exhibition saluting survivors who had successfully rebuilt their lives and in so doing had contributed to the development of the state.
In Israel, journalism became a family occupation and preoccupation.
Bondy was married to journalist Raphael Bashan, and their daughter, Tal Bashan, is also a journalist, writing mainly human interest stories for the weekend edition of Ma'ariv
, the sister publication of The Jerusalem Post
Bondy is survived by her daughter and two grandchildren.