A final farewell to a well-loved, colorful figure

Dolev – who suffered from a severe degenerative muscular disease that impeded her ability to walk or to hold a pen – died on Saturday in her home in Ramat Gan.

Anat Dolev (photo credit: IBA)
Anat Dolev
(photo credit: IBA)
Last Thursday afternoon, listeners to Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet program “At 3 with Anat Dolev” heard her cheery sign-off, “Bye-bye, Shabbat Shalom,” but did not realize how ill she was or that this would be the last time they would hear Dolev in a live broadcast.
Actually, they did hear her voice in a live broadcast this past Sunday, but while most of the broadcast was live, the segments featuring Dolev were from the Israel Radio archives.
Dolev – who suffered from a severe degenerative muscular disease that impeded her ability to walk or to hold a pen – died on Saturday in her home in Ramat Gan.
She was discovered by her son Dan, who is doing his military service in the Israel Air Force. He had tried to call his mother on Friday and Saturday. When she failed to answer the phone time after time, he became concerned and went to see what was wrong. He found his 52-year-old mother lying on the couch in the living room. Although she had been very ill for a long time, he was not prepared to find her dead.
The Israel Broadcasting Authority is outstanding when it comes to memorializing its own. Special programs were devoted to Dolev, whose name was mentioned in at least three news bulletins, but the eulogies for Dolev went far beyond that. Her name came up in almost every program from Saturday afternoon to late Monday afternoon, after she had been buried at the new cemetery in Ramat Hasharon.
Friends and colleagues were unanimous in their praise of her intellect, her sensitivity, her vast range of knowledge, her phenomenal memory and her kindness to four-legged animals, especially cats. Dolev loved animals so much that no matter what the weather, she kept the window open in her office so that the cats could come through when they were cold or hungry. She admitted on air that her love for cats was obsessive. She kept them well supplied with cat food at her own expense, and it never bothered her that several of her four-footed friends were prowling around her as she worked. Her love of animals was also reflected in her dietary habits.
She was a vegetarian.
Dolev was a very complex personality. On the one hand, she was an intellectual who loved to read on any subject, and she remembered whatever information was contained in what she read. On the other hand, before being struck by illness, she was a party girl who loved to dance and frequent bars. She was an expert on music and was equally at home with the pops, the classics and opera.
She was also savvy about films and theater.
She was simultaneously secular and spiritual.
She knew the Bible chapter and verse, and she often surprised Rabbi Yuval Hacohen Asherov, a frequent guest on her show, with the depth of her understanding and the questions she asked not only about Bible but also Kabbala and Gemara.
She was very sensitive to the needs of others but did not suffer fools gladly. If there was a flaw in her character, it was that she was very opinionated. When she felt that she knew more about a subject than her interviewee, she did not hesitate to add her two bits and more, often cutting off the hapless interviewee in mid-sentence.
People who worked with Dolev over the years described her as the most loyal of friends. That loyalty was reciprocated during years of her illness by people such as Tzvika Bashefsky, Yoav Krakovsky, Yoav Ginai, Roni Wertheimer and Yoav Aviv, who were all impressed by Dolev’s refusal to give in to her illness.
She never asked for special favors, said Shlomo Alkabetz, the editor-in-chief of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and director of Israel Radio. On the contrary, she asked for more work. The consensus among her colleagues was that Dolev had an ongoing love affair with the microphone, and when she sat in front of it, she completely forgot about her aches and pains.
She seldom referred to her illness, but when she did, she tried to make light of it, though recently, according to Yoav Aviv, who accompanied her to the hospital for tests and treatment, it was obvious that it was preying on her mind. In one of her final broadcasts, she said that she was in need of a miracle. Aviv was going to a bar mitzva at the Western Wall, and Dolev asked him to place a note in one of the crevices. When he asked her what he should write in the note, her reply was that he should ask for her to be healthy.
On Sunday of this week, Nativ Robinson, who had filled her spot during Dolev’s stays in hospital, hosted a memorial program for her and said that in the past he had always assured listeners that she would soon return.
He was sorry that he could no longer do that.
There were many colleagues who wanted to share memories of Dolev, but there simply wasn’t enough time to give them all a chance to go on air. Smadar Talmor, who had worked closely with her, broke down and wept as other colleagues had done on other programs.
“She projected strength,” said Talmor, “but inside she was a broken vessel.”
Early on Sunday morning, Aryeh Golan apologized to Dolev, saying, “Anat, you know what a long time a minute’s silence is on radio, so we’ll give you a symbolic minute of silence.”
It lasted a long few seconds.
Several weeks before her death, Dolev was in a coffee shop, where someone stole her purse. It included her cellphone, which contained many photos. Her sister Neta has put out a call to the thief to return the phone. Nothing else is important to the family.
Hundreds of family members, friends and colleagues accompanied Dolev on her final journey. Colleagues said that what added to her troubles was the knowledge that the IBA, for which she had worked for so many years, was on the verge of closure. That development left a deep wound in her heart.
Her father said that it had hurt him greatly that he was unable to do anything to help her. The only comfort in her death was that she would no longer endure pain and suffering, he said. A farewell note that she had left to her son assured him that she had done all that was possible to be the best mother in the world to him. He said that in that, she had succeeded.
Her ex-husband, Ofer Koch, read from something Dolev had written that indicated that she had a premonition that she would die at an early age.
“I will never be here again,” she had written.
“I will no longer climb the Spanish Steps or tour Barcelona or explore Alaska or write that promised book.... I shall not read again or wear high-heeled shoes or eat a meal...”
Among the many well-known figures from the broadcasting world who attended the funeral was MK Shelly Yacimovich, who was a longtime broadcaster before going into politics and had anchored It’s All Talk on Reshet Bet.
No one in broadcast or print media is truly aware of the extent of their influence or popularity. They don’t know how many people out there are listening to or reading their words and their opinions. Buth if the print and electronic media coverage of Anat Dolev’s death is any indication, she was indeed a broadcasting icon.