BEN-AMOTZ, DAHN


BEN-AMOTZ, DAHN
BEN-AMOTZ, DAHN (Moshe Tehilimzeiger; 1923–1989), Israeli author and humorist. Born in Poland, he was taken to Palestine with a group of children in 1938, escaping the fate of his parents, who were murdered in the Holocaust. He joined the British Navy during World War II. After the war he volunteered for the Palyam, the marine branch of the Palmaḥ, where he first established himself as a humorous writer. Though his earliest publication is a volume of "serious" stories Arba'ah ve-Arba'ah (1950), he won fame with a collection of Palmaḥ lore – half fact, half tall story – entitled Yalkut ha-Kezavim ("Bag of Lies," 1956), which he wrote jointly with the poet Ḥayim Ḥefer\>\> . His other humorous writings, initially published in the Hebrew press, are collected in Mah Nishma ("What's New," 1959) and Eikh La'asot Mah ("How to do What," 1962). In 1968 he published his first full-scale novel, Lizkor ve-Lishko'aḥ ("To Remember and To Forget") which, though laced with humor, is basically a return to serious writing. A semi-autobiographical story, it constitutes the author's attempt to confront a past he had tried to ignore, his non-sabra origin, the murder of his parents, and his own responsibility as their son. The questions of the German people's guilt, the existence of the "other Germany," and the moral justification for accepting German reparations are all widely explored in this book. An English translation of To Remember and To Forget was published in 1973. Besides writing, Ben-Amotz made a reputation for himself as a witty radio personality, starting with the popular Three in One Boat program, as a sharp-tongued interviewer, as manager of the Ḥamam satirical cabaret, organizer of happenings, lexicographer of Hebrew slang, sometime actor (a small part in A Streetcar Named Desire – during his Hollywood phase – and the part of Uzi in Exodus), and as the quintessential Israeli, an exemplar of the "New Jew," the sabra, combining charm and brashness with a highly visible bohemian lifestyle and left-wing politics. Dying of cancer, he arranged a now legendary farewell party for himself, receiving the accolades of Israel's cultural and political elite with customary good cheer. -ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Dankner, Dahn Ben-Amotz, Bi'ografyah (1992); Z. Yaniv, Sippurav ha-Mukdamim shel Dahn Ben-Amotz, 19451948 (1992); Z. Chafets, in: The Jerusalem Report (Jan. 23, 1992). WEBSITE: www.ithl.org.il\>\> . (Miriam Arad / Fred Skolnik (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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