S.Yizhar (1916 – 2006)
S.Yizhar (Yizhar Smilansky) was Israel’s foremost writer, professor of literature and education, and long serving MK, but primarily a man of the land. He served the State of Israel in many ways, as soldier in the War of Independence, as peacemaker, formidable politician of the left, and as someone who put the environment, the unrelenting desert soil, first and foremost.
A Green Prophet indeed!
Born in Rehovot in 1916 to Russian immigrant parents, with several writers in his wider family, Yizhar studied in Jerusalem, became a teacher, then pursued his doctorate at Hebrew University, where he then became a Professor.
His career encompassed time as visiting writer at Harvard, op-ed writing, and as MK (Member of the Israeli Knesset) for the Mapai and Rafi political parties. As MK, Yizhar spoke out for environmental protection in Israel, and rallied against what he saw as the desecration of the landscape through the spread of urbanization.
His creative writing, in short stories, plays, and novels (for which he won the Brenner Prize and the Israel Prize, amongst many International awards) was where his rootedness in the soil and his deep understanding of the flora and fauna of this land, found its outlet, and remains as a lasting legacy for those who seek inspiration from the land, and who seek to preserve it for future generations.
His work is slowly being translated for English speakers, and recently his novel ‘Preliminaries’ (1992) and short story collection ‘Midnight Convoy and other stories’ (first published story from 1938) were brought out by Jerusalem publishers, The Toby Press.
To read a recent review of ‘Midnight Convoy and other stories’ check out www.theshortreview.com