Ein Hod Articles
On Independence Day 2004, the actress Gila Almagor, an Ein Hod member, received the Israel Prize, awarded by the President of Israel to individuals who have made outstanding contributions in every field of endeavor. In so doing Gila Almagor became the tenth Ein Hod member to receive this prestigious award. That is a remarkable accomplishment for a village which today, larger than it has ever been, can claim only 150 members, the first twenty of whom had to be cajoled by Marcel Janco in 1953 to settle the deserted, dusty place at the top of the hill. There is little doubt that that no settlement in Israel can boast a greater proportion of its inhabitants to have won the prize than the little village of Ein Hod.
Gila Almagor, cited for her life's work as one of Israeli's leading actresses, joined the list of nine other illustrious Ein Hod personalities who have enriched Israeli culture in many fields. Zahara Shatz, who won the Prize in 1955 for painting and sculpture was the first, followed by Marcel Janco, for painting (1967), Gertrude Kraus (1968) for dance, Shimon Halkin (1975) for literature, Haim Hefer (1983) for Hebrew songwriting, Natan Zach (1995) for poetry, Aryeh Navon (1996) for theater scenery and art, Michael Gross (2000) for painting and sculpture, and Gavri Banai (2000) for his special contribution to Israeli culture as a member of the Hagashash comedy trio. It would be hard to imagine Israeli national culture without them.
Shatz, Janco, Navon and Gross, the painters and sculptors, stand at the center of the world of plastic art in Israel.
Zahara Shatz, born in Israel, was the daughter of Boris Shatz, who founded the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. After studying at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris she rose to great prominence in Israel and overseas. She exhibited and won prestigious prizes throughout the world, from the Milan Triennale, where she won a special award, to the Milane Bienalle, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she was awarded a medal for her artistic achievement.
The renowned Marcel
Janco, born in Bucharest, Romania, was one of the founders
of the important Dada Movement (non-artists). Dadaism was established
in 1916, at the Cabaret Voltaire, in Zurich, Switzerland, by a group
of exiled poets, painters and philosophers who were opposed to war,
aggression and the changing world culture. Pablo Picasso who belonged
to the Dadaists Group in Paris, was a contemporary of Janco. In 1922
Janco returned to Romania, where he gained fame as a painter and architect.
Then, in 1941, fleeing the Nazis, he moved to Palestine, and became
one of the founders of the New Horizons Group (1948). In 1953 he founded
the Ein Hod Artists Village. The Janco-Dada Museum, founded in 1983
in Ein Hod, is an important source of information about the Dada Movement
and Janco's work.
In the realm of literature and songwriting Shimon Halkin, Haim Hefer and Natan Zach stand out as well.
Shimon Halkin was one of the fathers of academic teaching of Hebrew literature in Israel, and a worldwide authority on Hebrew and Yiddish literature. Author of classic texts in these fields, in use throughout the world, he was a teacher, a poet, a researcher and a translator. He was a superb scholar who influenced generations of students. Likewise, his translations, such as that of Shakespeare's Shylock into Hebrew, poems from Leaves of Grass, and many more, stand as classics.
Haim Hefer is another Israeli institution. The "poet laureate" of the Palmach, he wrote many of the songs that people the world over associate with the period surrounding the War of Independence, the spirit of Israel reborn and of Israeli heroism. He continued to be a great influence for the next fifty years, writing a column in the Yediot Achronot newspaper, the words for many of Israel's best known songs and collaborating in the writing of the famous movie Kazablan, among others.
Natan Zach was born in Berlin and immigrated to Haifa as a child. He lectured at Tel Aviv University and was appointed professor at Haifa University. He is not only a poet, but also an editor, critic and translator, and was chairman of the repertoire board of both the Ohel and Cameri theaters. Rebelling against the previous generation of Israeli poets he led a group that changed the face of poetry in the 1950s and 1960s. Breaking with tradition he aimed for openness and experimentation, using irony and a colloquial vocabulary. Internationally acclaimed, Zach has been called "the most articulate and insistent spokesman of the modernist movement in Hebrew poetry."
Gila Almagor, Gertrude Kraus, and Gavri Banai excelled in the field of dance, acting and entertainment.
an actress and author, was the daughter of a father who was a policeman
in the British Army, killed by an Arab sniper, and a mother who was
mentally ill. Almagor, performing in the Cameri and Habima theaters,
in movies and on TV played leading roles in many famous productions.
In 1987 she published her book The Summer of Aviya, based on her personal
biography. She also transformed the book into a movie, which represented
Israel at important film festivals worldwide and won international prizes,
as did her second book, Under the Domim Tree. She also was one of the
founders of Ami, the Association of Israeli Artists.
Movement design for theaters:
Choreographic design for
Gavri Banai, born in Jerusalem, is a member of the "Hagashash Hahiver" comedy trio, a unique Israeli institution. Formed in 1963, the trio achieved massive popularity and influence due to the artistic excellence of their work and the keenness of their observation of Israeli society that was reflected in their performances. The "Hagashash" has been credited with coining many standard phrases in use in the modern Hebrew language, creating "a new language which has successfully combined Biblical language with Israeli slang." With characteristic humility, though, Gavri Banai commented that this was simply a matter of observing language that was in everyday use and putting it on the stage. Some of Israel's greatest authors and playwrights prepared material for the trio, which appeared on the stage, in movies, television and army camps throughout the country and overseas.
Artists working in Ein Hod are fully aware of the illustrious example of these great artists and scholars, who lived and are still living among them. The work of these prize-winners and their lives provide inspiration and the challenge to emulate the best in each of them. After over fifty years as a vibrant, creative community Ein Hod faces many challenges, including the formidable, fundamental task of remaining an artists village in the face of serious economic and social pressures. Serious artists, writers, performers and musicians of all ages and specialties are still working and producing here. Who among them will achieve the level of accomplishment reached by our ten Israel Prize winners?
Written by Robert Nechin