Caricaturist and illustrator Shmuel Katz, who illustrated some of Israel's best-loved children's book, died at a Nahariya hospital on Friday. Katz was 83 years old. In his long career, Katz illustrated over 70 books, including "Apartment for Rent" by Leah Goldberg, "I like whistling in the street" by Nurit Zarchi, the first eight books in Yigal Mossinson's "Hasamba" adventure series, and Menachem Talmi's "Sights and Knights of Jaffa".
Katz was also a caricaturist, who served as a military illustrator in the IDF and made drawings through several wars. Katz followed the Israeli-Egyptian peace talks and took part in the Israeli-Jordanian peace accords signing ceremony, drawing and sketching what he'd witnessed throughout.
"He was a modest, pleasant man, and since much of his work was done when most journalism was printed, Katz was at the very front in many events, and his contribution was very great," said Michel Kichka, chairman of the Association of Israeli Cartoonists. "Many of the cartoonists working in Israel today have been influenced by his style, which was both virtuous and elegant. He was a master of the brush and of the pen nib, and a sketcher by God's grace. He could take over the page and create astonishing compositions. Although his work was soaked in European influences, it was also remarkably Israeli."
Katz was born in Vienna in 1926 and in 1938 was smuggled with his his younger sister to Hungary. Six year later, he was recruited to forced labor in Slovakia and Yugoslavia.
In late 1944 he returned to Budapest, joining the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement after the war. In 1946, Katz made aliyah to Israel, but his ship was intercepted by British authorities and the passengers were expelled to Cyprus. Katz documented the journey and his stay at the Cyprus detention camp in his sketches.
Ten months later he finally reached Israel, and in 1948 joined friends to found Kibbutz Ga'aton.
Katz's illustrations and caricatures have been published in Al Hamishmar, Davar Hashavua, Mishmar Layeladim and Maariv. In recent years, he was the permanent caricaturist for "Hakibbutz," the Kibbutz Movement's weekly.
Among the awards he received were the Nordau Prize for Arts (1974), the Dosh Caricature Award (2006) and the "Golden Pencil" for lifetime achievement by the Israeli Cartoon Museum (2007).
"Katz had become a substantial part for the collective Israeli canon, shared by most Israelis born and raised in Israel," the Golden Pencil citation said. "Although he wasn't born in Israel and came here as an exile and a refugee, he shaped Israeli perceptions through his drawings for 60 years, perhaps more than those who were born here."
Katz is survived by his wife Naomi, two daughters and six grandchildren. His funeral will take place in Kibbutz Ga'aton at 4 P.M. today.
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