Uri Zohar

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Uri Zohar
אורי זוהר
Avry zvhr.jpg
Zohar in the 1960s
Born(1935-11-04)4 November 1935
Died2 June 2022(2022-06-02) (aged 86)
Education Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Occupation(s)Rabbi, film director, comedian, writer
Years active1956–1988
Notable work Hole in the Moon
Three Days and a Child
The Hero
SpouseEliya Zohar

Rabbi Uri Zohar (Hebrew : אורי זוהר [ˈuʁiˈzoaʁ] ; 4 November 1935 – 2 June 2022) was an Israeli film director, actor and comedian who left the entertainment world to become an orthodox rabbi. [1]



Uri Zohar in They Call Me Shmil Avry zvhr, mtvk hsrt qvrAym ly SHmyl.jpg
Uri Zohar in They Call Me Shmil

Uri Zohar was born in Tel Aviv. His parents were Polish Jewish immigrants. [2] In 1952, he graduated high school and did his military service in an army entertainment troupe. His first marriage, to singer Ilana Rovina, ended in divorce. [3]

In 1960, he studied philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was sentenced to three months of community service on charges of marijuana possession. [4] In the late 1970s, under the influence of Yitzhak Shlomo Zilberman, Zohar turned to religion, becoming a Haredi Orthodox Jew and a rabbi. [5]

He was a close friend of Arik Einstein, with whom he made some of his most noted films. Einstein's two daughters married Zohar's sons. [6]

Zohar was one of the founding members of Ma'ale Amos. Later, he resided in Jerusalem. [7]

He died at the age of 86 on 2 June 2022. [8] He was survived by his second wife Eliya Shuster, a former actress who had participated in a film he directed, their seven children and numerous grandchildren. [2]

Entertainment and film career

Uri Zohar at the microphone, performing with the Lool group for soldiers during the Yom Kippur War (1973) PikiWiki Israel 29 1f1748e49853a979ef7132f6b140cc11.jpg
Uri Zohar at the microphone, performing with the Lool group for soldiers during the Yom Kippur War (1973)

After his discharge from the army, Zohar became one of the founding members of the theatre and entertainment troupe Batzal Yarok, which was popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s. [9] In the 1960s, Zohar directed and starred in Israeli films, among them Hole in the Moon , Three Days and a Child , Every Bastard a King , Big Eyes and Metzitzim . He directed 11 full-length films as well as a number of short movies and episodes of the television series "Lool" (Chicken Coop). [10] When Israel Television went on air, he became a program host and appeared in commercials. [2] [9]

In 1977, he began wearing a kippa on the television game show he was hosting. [4] He eventually withdrew entirely from Israel's popular culture scene to become a Haredi Jew and began to study in yeshiva. He became a rabbi in Jerusalem and immersed himself in Biblical scholarship. [11] [9] He became active in the movement to attract secular Jews to religious orthodoxy, and used his entertainment skills to promote this objective. [12] In the 1992 Israeli elections, Zohar directed the television broadcasts for the Shas party. [13] He later directed a film about a successful dancer who embraces orthodox Judaism, mirroring his own story. The film was a success with Ultra-Orthodox audiences. Zohar had enlisted the help filmmakers Dani Rosenberg and Yaniv Segalovich to make it, and Rosenberg and Segalovich in turn made a documentary about him. [14] [15]

When asked in an interview about how he regarded his former career in entertainment, Zohar said that "I respect it, the way a mature adult remembers his childhood. But there's no escaping the fact that I was a child." [11]

Awards and recognition

Dan Hadani collection (990044418210205171).jpg

In 1976 he was awarded the Israel Prize for cinema, which he declined. [16] In 2012, Cinémathèque Française in Paris held a retrospective of Zohar's work. The event included lectures and screenings of all his major films. Zohar was described as one of Israel's most interesting film directors due to his exploration of manhood and machismo, male-female relationships and the impact of the military. [17]

Personal life

In the early 1960s, Zohar was married to the singer Ilana Rovina for about two years. Later he married Alia Shuster, an actress who starred in the movie "Big Eyes" that he directed. [18]

Zohar and Alia, who lived in Jaffa after getting married and later became religiously observant and moved to Jerusalem, had seven children. His two oldest sons, Ephraim Fishel and Shalom, married the daughters of Alona and Arik Einstein, Shiri and Yasmin, who also became religiously observant. The wedding of Ephraim Fishel and Shiri was documented in Renan Shor's 1985 short film "A Wedding in Jerusalem." Another son, Itamar, who became secular, initiated the 2004 three-part series "Looking Inside" - a series in which Itamar examines the two worlds his father lived in, and they debate matters of faith, values and reconciliation between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews. After several years Itamar returned to religious observance. The series was filmed in their Jerusalem home, as well as locations where Zohar lived and worked in Tel Aviv. Another son, Betzalel, managed the Migdal Or institutions of Rabbi Yitzhak David Grossman. The youngest son, David, is a Jerusalem city council member representing the United Torah Judaism party. Zohar's only daughter, Ahinoam, is the subject of the song "Ahinoam Doesn't Know," which appeared on Erik Einstein's album "Pozy."

Rabbi Uri Zohar passed away on June 2, 2022 at the age of 86, after suffering a heart attack at his home in Jerusalem's Romema neighborhood. The funeral procession left from the home he lived in, accompanied by many mourners. He was buried in Har HaMenuchot cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. [19]

Published works


See also

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  1. Gershon Shafir; Yoav Peled (2002). Being Israeli. Cambridge University Press. p. 148. ISBN   0-521-79672-5.
  2. 1 2 3 Famed actor-turned-rabbi Uri Zohar dies at 86
  3. Cashman, Greer Fay (18 October 2020). "Arts pioneer Ilana Rovina dies". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  4. 1 2 Despair and Deliverance
  5. Hadar, Alon (23 August 2007) "Goodbye to All That", Haaretz. "After Ponovezh I went to the yeshiva of Rabbi Zilberman, where Uri Zohar studied, in the Old City of Jerusalem."
  6. Back from Black: Uri Zohar Returns, Jerusalem Post
  7. Sarare (2 June 2022). "BDE: HaRav HaGaon Uri Zohar, Z'tl, Head Of Lev L'Achim, Mezake HaRabbim". The Yeshiva World. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  8. Anderman, Nirit (2 June 2022). "Uri Zohar, Israeli Comedian-turned-rabbi, Dies at 86". Haaretz . Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  9. 1 2 3 Israel mourns passing of cultural icon turned rabbi Uri Zohar
  10. Uri Zohar, Israeli Comedian-turned-rabbi, Dies at 86
  11. 1 2 Uri Zohar, avant-garde Israeli director turned rabbi, dies
  12. What I learned from a Jewish Movie Star
  13. Steinberg, Jessica. "Former film personality Uri Zohar dies at 86, after decades as ultra-Orthodox rabbi". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  14. Back from black: Uri Zohar returns
  15. Zohar – The Return
  16. "Zohar Uri" (in Hebrew). The Guide to One Hundred Years of Hebrew Theatre. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  17. French Cinematheque to honor Uri Zohar with retrospective, Haaretz
  18. ישראלי, הרב אליהו (7 June 2022). "עדכוני כדורסל באמצע השטייגען // ." כיכר השבת (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  19. "סוף עידן: אורי זוהר, מגדולי היוצרים הישראלים, הלך לעולמו בגיל 86 - וואלה! תרבות". וואלה! (in Hebrew). 2 June 2022. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  20. Zohar, Uri (1994). My Friends, We Were Robbed!. Feldheim. ISBN   978-0-87306-701-0.
  21. "Waking Up Jewish". www.bookdealers.co.za. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  22. "Uri Zohar, Israeli Comedian-turned-rabbi, Dies at 86". Haaretz. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  23. "Comeback Mission". 7 June 2022.