(photo credit: GAY FRIBS)
One of the greatest living French singers in the tradition of the chanson, Charles Aznavour, landed in Israel on Wednesday.
The singer came to Israel as part of his world tour titled "One Night Only" and is due to perform in the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv on Saturday.
President Reuven Rivlin is due to meet Aznavour on Thursday and present him with the Raul Wallenberg medal in honor of the singer's parents who hid Jews in their home during the Nazi occupation of France during WWII.
Aznavour and his sister Aida gave up their beds for the new guests and took part in what their parents were doing. While long keeping this to himself, he decided to speak about the experience of witnessing the destruction of the French-Jewish population and helping those who attempted to prevent it. A book about his and his sister's memories by genocide researcher Prof. Yair Auron will be published in the near future.
The Aznavour family immigrated to France from Armenia, and Aznavour is active in pro-Armenian causes as well as other forms of charity. During his 70 years of performing, Aznavour sold more than a hundred million records and took part in over 80 films and television shows.
One of these movies had been the Soviet-French-Swiss production Teheran 43
. Released in 1981, the film describes Nazi attempts to murder Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt while focusing on enduring romances between the various characters.
The theme song, Une Vie D'amour
, became a hit in the USSR and is still one of the better known songs by Aznavour today.
Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi occupied Hungary by providing Jews with Swedish passports and housing that he officially claimed was out of the Nazi jurisdiction, as, like the Swedish embassy, it was a part of the territory of Sweden.
The chanson [from Latin, song] is an old artistic tradition in the French speaking world, the modern chanson often deals with romantic feelings, urban life, and the experience of the outsider. Other famous performers in that tradition include Édith Piaf, Georges Brassens, and Jacques Brel.
Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this article.