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Ephraim Kishon


(1924 - 2005)

Ephraim Kishon was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1924 into a middle-class Jewish family. Born as Ferenc Hoffmann, Kishon graduated at a high school of metal sculpture and studied art history. He began publishing humorous essays and scripts for the theater in Hungary.

During World War II the Nazis imprisoned him in several concentration camps. In one camp, his chess talent helped him survive as the camp commandant was looking for an opponent. In another camp, the Germans lined up the inmates shooting every tenth person, passing him by. He later wrote in his book The Scapegoat, They made a mistake they left one satirist alive. Kishon managed to escape while being transported to the Sobibor death camp in Poland, and hid the remainder of the war disguised as Stanko Andras, a Slovakian laborer.



After 1945 he changed his surname from Hoffmann to Kishont to disguise his Jewish heritage and returned to Hungary to study art and publish humorous plays. He immigrated to Israel in 1949 to escape the Communist regime, and an immigration officer gave him the name Ephraim Kishon.



In Israel, acquiring a mastery of Hebrew with remarkable speed, Kishon started a regular satirical column in the easy-Hebrew daily publication, HaOmer, just after two years in the country. From 1952, for over thirty years, he wrote the column Chad Gadya in the daily paper Maariv. Devoted largely to political and social satire but including essays of pure humor, it became one of Israels most popular columns. His extraordinary inventiveness, both in the use of language and the creation of character, was applied also to the writing of innumerable skits for theatrical revues.
 
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