Ruth Bondy, Israeli Journalist and Holocaust Survivor, Dies at 94

Bondy, who survived Auschwitz, immigrated to Israel in 1948 and worked in journalism for over three decades, winning the prestigious Sokolov Award

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Journalist and translator Ruth Bondy in Prague, 2013
Journalist and translator Ruth Bondy in Prague, 2013Credit: Moshe Shay

Israeli journalist, author, and Holocaust survivor Ruth Bondy died Tuesday at age 94.

A survivor of Auschwitz, Bondy immigrated to Israel in 1948 and worked for over 30 years in journalism, including at the newspaper Davar and its cultural supplement, Davar Weekly. Bondy was well known for her starring role on the "Three in a Boat" radio show, for her biographical works, and her translations of works from Czech and German into Hebrew.

Over the course of her career, Bondy was awarded the Sokolov Award for journalism, the Buchman Memorial Prize for Holocaust research and the Prime Minister's Award for Hebrew authors. Bondy is survived by her daughter, journalist Tal Bashan, and her two grandchildren.

Bondy was born in 1923 in Prague in the former Czechoslovakia to Joseph and Francesca Herman. In 1942, Bondy and her family were expelled from their home and sent to the Terezin ghetto, and subsequently to Auschwitz in December of 1943. Her parents died, but Bondy survived Auschwitz and was liberated from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

"Four of us survived the Holocaust," she wrote, "Grandma Herman, my cousin Utta, my sister Dita, and myself. Twenty-five were erased by the Holocaust. Statistically speaking, my family was lucky. In any case, someone survived to tell her story."

In 1948, Bondy immigrated to Israel with Gahal, the overseas recruitment group for volunteer, non-Israeli army recruits. Bondy married journalist Raphael Bashan, and the two had a daughter, Tal Bashan.

She worked in journalism for over 30 years. Hayim Isaac, her colleague at Davar, said of Bondy that "her achievements were a result of her natural skillset as a writer, her firmly rooted culture, her deep commitment to her work and journalism, diluted by her human and feminine beauty."

Bondy starred in the 1950s radio show, "Three in a Boat," broadcast by Israel Radio. She was well-known for her work as a translator, providing Hebrew readers with access to important Czech and German writers. Among her translated works were writings by Karel Capek, Friedrich Durrenmatt, Bohumil Hrabal, Michal Viewegh, Leo Perutz, Václav Havel, Milan Kundera, Ota Pavel, Jaroslav Hasek and more.

Bondy also wrote a number of biographical works, including "The Emissary: A Life of Enzo Sereni," "Sheba, Doctor for all People," "Felix: The Life and Times of Pinchas Rosen" and "Elder of the Jews: Jakob Edelstein of Theresienstadt."

In her autobiography, Bondy wrote, "How does one survive? Through the research, stories, and poems which awaken the motif of daily omnipresent guilt in Holocaust survivors that they lived while their whole world perished. When I try to dive into the black depths of the Holocaust, I'm unable to find guilt for being alive. Awe, happiness for each additional day, a desire not to waste time, the pain of loss, debt to those who were not as lucky – but not guilt."

Bondy's funeral will be held on Thursday at 1 P.M. in Kibbutz Givat Haim Ihud.