‘A decisive voice that will be sorely missed’: Author Meir Shalev laid to rest

Mourners honor writer with wreaths of wildflowers; daughter Zohar Shalev describes father as a ‘pragmatic man’ who courageously accepted cancer diagnosis

Friends and family mourn renowned author Meir Sahlev at his funeral in Nahalal cemetery, northern Israel, April 14, 2023. (Shir Torem/Flash90)
Friends and family mourn renowned author Meir Sahlev at his funeral in Nahalal cemetery, northern Israel, April 14, 2023. (Shir Torem/Flash90)

Meir Shalev was laid to rest Friday in the northern moshav of Nahalal with over 1,000 family, friends and admirers on hand to honor the acclaimed author, whose works were known for weaving the power of biblical narratives into the mundane but complicated lives of contemporary Israelis.

Shalev died on Tuesday after a battle with cancer at the age of 74.

As a fitting tribute, mourners carried wreaths of wildflowers to honor the writer, who described his beloved garden, which he cultivated himself, in his 2017 book “My Wild Garden.”

“My father was a pragmatic man,” his daughter Zohar said in her eulogy. “He accepted his cancer diagnosis and dealt with the journey in a practical, professional and courageous manner.”

“The journey ends for him here today. He prepared for death, and at the same time considered the possibility of recovery, and accepted all the treatments,” she added. “Being his daughter was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Zur Shalev, Meir’s brother, praised his sibling for expressing “a clear and decisive voice against the present changing reality in Israel.”

“It’s a voice that we will sorely miss,” he added.

Author Meir Shalev speaks at the 25th Jerusalem National Book Festival held at the International Conference Center in Jerusalem. February 22, 2011. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Shalev was born in 1948 in the historic farming community of Nahalal, the country’s first moshav, to poet Yitzhak and Batya Shalev, who moved the family to Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood and later to the Sea of Galilee community of Ginosar.

At the time of his death, he lived in Moshav Alonei Aba, a 15-minute drive from Nahalal, and the site of a former German Templar community known as Waldheim that Shalev described in his 2002 novel “Fontanelle.”

Shalev wrote three children’s books before first venturing into the world of adult fiction at the age of 40 with his 1988 book, “The Blue Mountain” (“Roman Russi” in Hebrew), about pioneers in the Jezreel Valley.

The book was an immediate success with Israeli readers and turned Shalev into one of the country’s most popular contemporary authors.

Following his death, President Isaac Herzog lamented that the world would not be able to enjoy another one of Shalev’s books, which have “changed our lives, making them richer and fuller.”

Opposition chair Yair Lapid tweeted, “Like any great writer, [Shalev’s] light created a world [in of itself]. He has left us, but the world he created will remain on the shelf of our lives.”

On Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that he was saddened to hear of Shalev’s death, adding. “Despite our differences of opinion, I appreciated his literary talents and his efforts to make the stories of the Bible accessible to Israel’s children. May his memory be a blessing.”

Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.

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