Thousands of people came to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to pay their last respects to legendary singer Arik Einstein, who passed away Tuesday night. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also passed by the casket and shook hands with the late singer’s relatives and friends.
“We all love you so much,” said Netanyahu at the ceremony. “I love you very much. We all grew up on your songs. We laughed until we cried... we laughed so much from your skits. We were moved by your films. In a nation of great artists and singers – this is not simple to say but it is true – you were the greatest of them all. The beautiful, true, distilled essence of the Land of Israel.”
“You were a great artist and no less than that, you were a wonderful person,” said Netanyahu. “Your art is part of the culture of the nation of Israel in its land, and your art will continue to live with us. Thank you for the plenty, the joy and the emotion that you enriched our lives with. Farewell, Arik.”
Rabbi Uri Zohar, who collaborated with Einstein for many years on comedy skits and films, said about Einstein: “You lived in a bubble that held only the good things. You could not understand the bad things.”
“We know you made many people feel good,” said Zohar. “Not because you are a singer or an actor, but because you were human.”
Zohar shocked his fans in the 70s by becoming religious. Two of Einstein’s daughters, who also became religious, along with their mother – his first wife, Alona – wound up marrying Zohar’s sons.
Charismatic Einstein's mellow voice created the soundtrack to Israel's formative decades. He was a basketball player in his early youth, but by the late 1950s, when he was in his late teens, he had turned into an actor-singer who starred in numerous musical ensembles, iconic films, television comedy shows and comedy skits. He stopped performing in 1981, and later explained that he simply feels uncomfortable on stage, and likes being at home.
Einstein was buried at Tel Aviv’s Trumpeldor Cemetery.