President Reuven Rivlin attends Amos Oz memorial, December 31, 2018.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
“It’s known that the righteous among us die on Shabbat,” said Fania Oz-Salzberger, the daughter of Amos Oz, professor, author and historian at a memorial service in his honor on Monday in Tel Aviv. “But writers need to die on a Friday, as he did, for in the quietness of Shabbat, an entire people sat down in silence and read his work.”
Oz, who died on December 28, was celebrated and remembered with love by Israeli leaders, artists and family at the Tzavta Theater in Tel Aviv. He died on Friday at the age of 79 after a short battle against cancer. Considered Israel’s greatest writer, he won several literary prizes, including the Israel Prize, the Bialik Prize and the Goethe Prize.
In Oz-Salzberger’s speech about her father, she talked about his “courage” and referred to him as a “model of justice.”
“My father left us with words – words that will change the world,” she said.
President Reuven Rivlin took the stage, donning a dark kippah before he spoke, drawing laughter from the crowd. “I don’t think Amos would mind it,” he said with a chuckle.
Rivlin recalled how during his school days, he attended the Jerusalem Gymnasia school together with Oz.
Among other shared memories from their youth, Rivlin spoke of the time when Oz’s autobiography, A Tale of Love and Darkness, was first published.
“I read it as though it was given at Mount Sinai,” Rivlin said of reading passages from the book.
The president reminisced about other works from the author and his role in the Israeli political scene, joking how he and Oz have “been arguing politics since we were 14.”
“Sometimes you lost your temper, sometimes you were patient,” Rivlin spoke as if directly to Oz. “But you were always precise. And I envied you for that.
“I was also envious of your ability to know our society to its depths, to be angry with it until it hurt and to love it, to love it forever and infinitely,” he added. “Who will continue to tell our story, Amos?”
Oz’s novels were translated into more than 40 languages and he enjoyed a lifetime of global literary success. Oz suffered controversial attacks for founding the left wing Peace Now organization and for his obstinate opposition to what he termed as the “occupation of the West Bank.” Many prominent figures, some of which attended his funeral, noted how he was called “a traitor” by his critics.
“You, Amos …weren’t even afraid of being called a traitor,” said Rivlin. “In fact, you saw the term as a badge of honor.
“As a prophet, you fought for the truth,” said Oz’s friend Shai Huldai, “And as a prophet, you will be remembered.”
Oz was buried in Kibbutz Hulda on Monday afternoon.
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