Hundreds of Israelis, including President Reuven Rivlin and longtime colleagues, escorted the body of television polymath Moti Kirschenbaum to his final resting place at a cemetery in central Israel Sunday morning.
Kirschenbaum, a widely respected journalist and mainstay of the Israeli media scene for decades, died from a cardiac arrest on Friday morning, one day after his 76th birthday and less than 24 hours after he was presenting news live in the Channel 10 studio.
Yaron London, with whom Kirschenbaum presented the 7 p.m. daily show “London and Kirschenbaum” for more than a decade, spoke of the deep loneliness he felt without his co-host.
“I lost a dear friend, a present a lucky person gets only once in life. Without you, I am just pale, faded,” he said at the funeral in the small village of Michmoret on the Mediterranean coast. “For 14 years we saw each other every day, got updated on material, argued and discussed it. Every year we loved each other more. I saw his face every day. I got sick to death of it and sometimes he did, too. There was an element of jealousy; I won’t deny it, but also great love. And now I have a cane but I don’t have Moti. And without Moti I will limp to the end of my days. A person does not gain a friend like this, a partner like this, twice.”
The death of Kirschenbaum, who left behind four children and a life partner, came as a shock to most. Television and radio news over the weekend dedicated extended segments to discussions of his life and career. Sunday morning papers were filled with tributes to the journalist.
He was buried next to his wife, who passed away nine years ago.
President Reuven Rivlin honored Kirschenbaum with a eulogy at the funeral, calling him “the father of Israeli broadcasting.”
“Moti, just two weeks ago we met at the Tzavta Theater. You were the star of the show. You laughed and made everyone else laugh. You spoke of the freedom of the press and the freedom of creation. When we said goodbye we wished each other a happy new year and to stay healthy,” Rivlin said. “You always knew how to surprise us, but this time, Moti, you took it too far. The father of Israeli broadcasting, with your co-founders, and winner of the Israel Prize, you grew with Israeli television and it grew with you.”
Kirschenbaum’s career spanned the history of television in the State of Israel. He had been among the founders of Channel 1 television, a state-sponsored channel that was from its establishment to the early 1990s the only channel in the country.
He was instrumental in the production of the early version of “Mabat” – the 8 o’clock news show, and in the 1990s was also CEO of the Israel Broadcast Authority.
Kirschenbaum was the producer and one of the writers of “Nikui Rosh” in the early 1970s, considered the inspiration for all Israeli satire shows produced afterwards. He also produced nature documentaries.
Before the funeral, many of the attendants asked London about the fate of the show they presented together. London said he did not know, adding that there is not and will not be anyone who can replace Kirschenbaum.