Beloved actor Chaim Topol's coffin was placed in the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv where a memorial ceremony was held on Friday morning.
Hundreds of people came to pay their respects in the ceremony in which Culture and Sport Minister Mikki Zohar, Rivka Michaeli, Oded Cutler, Gabi Armani and Topol's daughter Adi gave speeches.
Topol's funeral was scheduled for later in the day at the Shiller Cemetery.
"Dad did truly wonderful things," said Topol's son Omer to Walla. "The end really limited him, this sickness was sad to see. He was surrounded by love and family at home, and all his grandchildren came from around the world to gather around him. We sang him all the songs he liked. He left us in peace. I'm happy for him. Dad was released."
"He was surrounded by love and family at home, and all his grandchildren came from around the world to gather around him."Omer Topol
Adi also spoke to Walla about her father.
"Dad was unintentionally excellent," she said. "He just acted. He didn't think about what other people would say. He moved fast and didn't stop for a second. He did it because he needed to bring money home. Otherwise, he was very good at it and loved it."
"Dad was unintentionally excellent."Adi Topol
Before the ceremony started, actress Ayelet Zorer also spoke to Walla about Topol.
"Topol had a very big soul," she said. "Look at his poster here, what was in his face came out. He had a blessed path, and maybe it was even know from the beginning. He was the first Israeli actor to have international success. He gave me and others a lot of inspiration."
"Topol had a very big soul."Ayelet Zorer
Zorer added that Topol's family asked that his Jordan River Village program be continued. The program is a vacation village for children suffering from chronic illnesses.
"It was his legacy and maybe his biggest and most important gift," said Zorer. "It will continue for years to come with sick children coming to the village. It's a really blessed legacy. We only hope that thanks to this, people will remember his legacy."
What did people say at the ceremony?
The ceremony opened with a performance by singer Dorit Reuveni of the song "I Had a Friend, I Had a Brother". Later in the ceremony, she also sang "Elad Went Down to The Jordan River" as a nod to the Jordan River Village.
Zohar said in the ceremony that Topol was "one of the cultural giants who nurtured Israeli culture."
"Chaim was an actor who left a great stamp on us, and his works will be remembered forever, etched into Israeli culture," he said. "In Salah Shabati, in which he acted, he portrayed with honor and grace the difficult debates in the varied Israeli society of the young nation. Chaim also did that through Tevye the Milkman in Fiddler on the Roof and other many roles which he took on with great and unique talent. Beyond being an actor, singer, songwriter and illustrator, Chaim really cared about what was happening with the Israeli people which he expressed through involvement in social activities and volunteering."
"His works will be remembered for ever, etched into Israeli culture."Culture and Sport Minister Mikki Zohar
Zohar added that "Chaim Topol was no doubt the good Israeli. These days, when Israeli society is so divided, I have no doubt that Chaim wanted to see us united and succeeding in talking, listening and coming to agreements. It's possible and it's necessary to maintain our home, which we all love. We cannot forget for one moment that we are all brothers and sisters, and we all love this wonderful country."
"This is a sad morning for everyone," said Michaeli. "It's weird, I'm standing here, and I want to say to Chaim, who was only two years older than me: 'Chaim, I grew up on your work'. Topol was a star in the Nahal band, commander of the band, who knew how to be silly mainly in the company of Uri Zohar. He was part of Salah Shabati and Fiddler on the Roof, and the director of the latter said that he chose Topol when he was young because he saw in him 'an actor who was proud to be Jewish.' Topol was at the top, always on the roof of the world. Rest in peace. Goodbye."
"Topol was at the top, always on the roof of the world."Rivka Michaeli
"Chaim brought gifts and respect to this country," said Gabi Armani, who was with Topol in the Nahal band and their Green Onion band later on. "Chaim, you are leaving us, but you are leaving us with so much. Thank you, Chaim."
"Chaim, you are leaving us, but you are leaving us with so much."Gabi Armani
Topol's friends Uri Levi and Ori Slomin also made speeches, and hundreds of people stood on their feet and gave a long ovation as a last show of respect for Topol.