And the nominee is… Ephraim Kishon

Do you remember when we discussed the best writer and authors in Israel? Well, there is someone special we left out on purpose because we wanted to truly honor him. Today, we are going to talk about one of the most important Israeli talents of all time. We are going to give you some great insights and information on the life of someone who changed the lives of many, all around the globe. In this article, we are going to talk about the amazing Ephraim Kishon and you are going to love it!

Brief story of Kishon’s life

Ephraim Kishon was born in August 1924, with the name Ferenc Hoffman in Hungary. Besides being one of the most widely read contemporary satirists in the world, he was also a dramatist, writer, and screenwriter.

His breathtaking talent first saw the light during his youth. In 1940, while still at school, he won his first prize for writing a novel for high school students.

He moved to Israel in 1949, where his name was changed to make it sound more “Israeli” (like Golda Meir and David Ben Gurion did themselves). Kishon was married three times; first to Eva, then Sara, and then one year after Sara’s death, Ephraim married Lisa Witasek, a well-known Austrian writer.

In 1981, Kishon established a second home in Appenzell, Switzerland after feeling, somehow, unappreciated in Israel, however, he remained a strong believer and activist Zionist until the end of his days.

Kishon passed away as a result of heart problems in January 2005, in Switzerland at the age of 80. His family took his body to Israel and buried him at the Trumpeldor Cemetery in Tel Aviv.

Ephraim’s books, plays, and more…


Ephraim Kishon wrote over 40 books and 9 plays during his lifetime. One of his biggest successes is the trilogy called “Satire book”, that he wrote between 1981 and 1992. One of his best sellers is the book “The Funniest Man in the world” where he presents several very humorous stories.

He also wrote the books “58 Sketches” and “The Redhead with the Key”, among many other huge successes. His books “Do Not Worry” and “It all Depends”, from the late 50s are still among the most requested titles in all Israeli bookshops and libraries.

Several of his books have been translated into more than 30 languages and sold very, well in Germany.


From early 50s and until his last days, Kishon wrote over 9 plays. His multiple sketches and plays have been performed, in translation, on stages and TV stations all over the world.

Among his plays, are “Ha-Ketubah” (read more about weddings in Israel in this great article we published a few weeks ago), “No Word to Morgenstein”, “Take the Plug Out”, and the amazing “Oh, oh Juliet”.


Kishon wrote and directed over 5 films, even receiving some amazing international awards and nominations. Within this list of outstanding films, we find “The Policeman” (in Israel known as Ha-Shoter Azoulay), which won a Golden Globe for the best foreign film in 1972 and was nominated for an Oscar for the Best Foreign Film in 1971.

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Awards and nominations

According to Wikipedia, Kishon received a number of awards throughout his lifetime.

  • In 1953, he won the Nordau Prize for Literature
  • In 1958, he was awarded with the Sokolov Prize for Journalism
  • In 1998, he received the Bialik Prize for Literature (If you want to know who Bialik was, we recommend you read this article)
  • In 2002, he was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and to the young

As we mentioned before, Kishon was nominated twice for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and three times for a Golden Globe Award. He won two Golden Globe Best Foreign Language Film Awards, for Sallah Shabati, and The Policeman.

Learn Hebrew today!

So, what is the best way to enjoy Kishon’s works? Read (or watch it), in their original language. By joining one of our online live Hebrew courses you’ll be able to both learn a new and interesting language and to understand the cultural ideas behind the hypnotizing pages of Kishon’s books. Give it a try, start learning Hebrew today and enjoy Kishon’s work. Behatzlacha!

About the author

Arie Elbelman R.Arie was born and raised in Chile, and immigrated to Israel in his early twenties. He wants to take an active role in the development of this young and smart country. Arie believes that the best way to shape our present and future is to live with more horizontal hierarchies, to smile a whole lot, and to always, always respect each other.

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