Shaul Biber, founder of Army Entertainment units, laid to rest

Biber was a veteran of the Hagana, the Palmah and the War of Independence; he was 90 years old when he passed away.

July 21, 2013 21:46
2 minute read.
The founder of Army Entertainment unit, Shaul Biber.

Shaul Biber 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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Shaul Biber, the founder of the Army Entertainment units of the Israel Defense Forces was laid to rest on Sunday at Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha, where he had spent part of his school years.

Biber, a veteran of the Hagana, the Palmah and the War of Independence, passed away at his home in Tel Aviv on Saturday. He was 90 years old.

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A multi-talented satirist, song writer, playwright, composer, author and director, Biber was born in Palestine when it was under the rule of the British Mandate. He spent his early childhood in Kiryat Anavaim and moved with his family to Tiberias when he was eight years old, learning to speak fluent Arabic and developing a fascination for the folklore of the region. Some years later, he was sent to the Kadoorie Agricultural High School with fellow classmate Yitzhak Rabin, with whom he later served in the Palmah. It was in the Palmah that Biber’s knowledge of Arabic was put to good use as he was appointed head of the Arabic Intelligence Department.

He was also involved with illegal immigration, helping to bring Holocaust survivors into the country, after the British authorities turned them back and placed them in internment camps in Cyprus.

Following the War of Independence, he was education officer in the Armored Corps and later chief cultural officer of the IDF with the rank of Lt. Col.

Many of Israel’s star performers got their start with Biber when he auditioned them for IDF entertainment units, and many retained contact with him long after they became famous.

Biber left the army in 1970 and was appointed head of the government events department.

He was also active in helping in the absorption of new immigrants.

The army left an indelible impression on Biber and he never strayed too far from continuing to contribute.

He maintained close relations with Hagana and Palmah veterans throughout the country as well as with friends from the days of youth when he had lived on various kibbutzim including Alumot, where one of his friends was Shimon Peres.

Both men had also been part of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed,z The Federation of Working and Student Youth.

Biber, who was a legend in his own lifetime, spent his past 90th birthday party with some of his closest friends, replete with entertainment at Tel Aviv’s Cafe Punch Line.

But his favorite haunt in the White City, which he frequented almost daily, was Cafe Tamar, a remnant from the British Mandate period, and popular hangout for journalists, artists, and politicians – particularly those with left wing leanings.

Biber belonged to the founding generation of the State of Israel, and remained ideologically committed to the land of his birth to the very end.

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