Holocaust survivor is Israel’s 1st coronavirus death

2020-03-22 23:02:00

Israel has reported its first death from the COVID-19 coronavirus: Arie Even, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor who died Friday.

There are more than 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel, health officials said.

Born in Budapest in 1932, Even — whose birth name was George Steiner — survived the Holocaust after his mother was tipped off about their impending arrest. Even, his mother, and brother hid in a basement in the Hungarian countryside; his father had been sent to a Nazi camp, and was able to survive. The family moved to Israel when Even was 17.

Even’s children spoke with the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, and said he had several other close calls during his life — he fled a cholera outbreak in Spain and survived heart attacks. His daughter Ofra told the Times “humanism was in his DNA,” and he was concerned about the treatment of Palestinians. “He always spoke about Israeli responsibility.” His daughter Yael said their father “believed profoundly in equality, in civil rights. He believed that this land belonged to all of its citizens.”

His wife, Yona, died in 2012. She was a diplomat, the same career Even had before he resigned, as couples could not serve together. Even’s children and 18 grandchildren were not able to visit him during his last days in the hospital, over fears they would catch the virus. The government made an exception so a small funeral could be held for Even on Saturday. It took place in the middle of the night, with the burial team all wearing hazmat suits. Only Even’s son, Omri, was allowed to attend.

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