Hillel הלל Matthew Daleski דלסקי (1926 - 2010) MP

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Birthplace: Johannesburg, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, South Africa
Death: Died in Jerusalem, Israel
Occupation: Professor of English Literature
Managed by: Yigal Burstein / יגאל בורשטיין
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • Aviva
    • Debbie
    • Gil
    • Arit
    • Yonat
    • Shirli
    • Sharon
    • Joan
    • Deborah

About Hillel הלל Matthew Daleski דלסקי

Hillel (Bill ) Matthew Daleski, who won the 2000 Israel Prize for general literature. was laid to rest last Wednesday in Beit Shemesh. Born in 1926 in Johannesburg into a Zionist family, he was a member of the Habonim youth movement. During World War Two, he served as a gunner in Italy.

In 1947, he graduated from the University of Witwatersrand with a B.A. in English and History. He then served in the War of Independence as part of the Mahal (foreign volunteers ) brigade. His plane landed just as the British were handing the airport over to the Arabs. He was rescued at the last moment and arrived in Tel Aviv where he was inducted by Ezer Weizman, who sent him to the Artillery Corps.

Daleski belonged to the unit which was instructed on June 22, 1948 to open fire on the IZL ship Altalena on the shores of Tel Aviv. According to Shlomo Nakdimon's book on the event, a former Red Army officer, Yosef Aksen, refused to obey the command and Daleski followed suit. "I didn't come to the Land of Israel to fight against Jews," he told Shmuel Admon, the commander of the Artillery Corps. But Admon responded that "an order is an order" and Daleski went back to his cannon, and the rest is history.

He returned to South Africa after the war determined to make immigrate to Israel. He was soon invited to join the nascent English department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was given a grant to study at Cambridge, where he wrote his doctoral thesis on D.H. Lawrence. He wrote seven books about English literature and through his epilogues introduced many Israeli readers to several English classics such as Charles Dicken's "Little Dorrit," D.H. Lawrence's "The Fox" and "The Virgin and the Gipsy," Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," and "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad.

The Israel Prize committee said when selecting Daleski that he was "a brilliant reader, with a fine ability to discriminate and understand texts; and his major strength [was] in the interpretation of the individual work."

He was the president of the Dickens Association, a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and one of the founders of Haifa University's English department. He also twice headed the English department at the Hebrew University.

Daleski is survived by Debby, Gil, Arit and Yonat, his children from his first wife Aviva Gross; and his second wife, the poet Shirley Kaufman, and her daughters Sharon, Joan and Deborah.

Hillel Daleski, Israel Prize recipient for literature, dies at 84 By Uri Dromi, Haaretz, Dec. 24, 2010.

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Hillel הלל Matthew Daleski דלסקי's Timeline

July 19, 1926
Johannesburg, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, South Africa
December 12, 2010
Age 84
Jerusalem, Israel
December 15, 2010
Age 84
Bet Shemesh, Israel