Israel mourns death of Kirk Douglas, ‘a proud Jew and great supporter of Israel’

February 6, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yisrael Katz joined stars and fans from around the world in mourning the passing of movie star Kirk Douglas at the age of 103.

Kirk Douglas

“I mourn with the family and America the passing of Hollywood legend and father of Michael, Kirk Douglas,” Katz tweeted Thursday.

Douglas was “a proud Jew and great supporter of Israel,” Katz added while lauding his memorable portrayal of US Colonel Mickey Marcus, a Jewish US Army officer who helped the struggle for Israel’s Independence, in the movie Cast a Giant Shadow.”

Born Issur Danielovitch Demsky in December 1916, Douglas became an international star who embraced his Judaism at an old age after a near-death air accident in 1991.

In his autobiography The Ragman’s Son, he recalled that “years back, I tried to forget that I was a Jew,” but later in his career, he began “coming to grips with what it means to be a Jew,” which became a theme in his life.

Douglas donated a number of playgrounds in Jerusalem, as well as the Kirk Douglas Theatre at the Aish Center across from the Kotel, Western Wall.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder expressed his deep condolences.

In 2016, the World Jewish Congress honoured Douglas with the inaugural WJC Teddy Kollek Award for the Advancement of Jewish Culture, accepted on his behalf by his son, Michael Douglas.

He made more than 90 films throughout his life.

“I am profoundly saddened to hear of the passing of one of my personal heroes, Kirk Douglas, who in both his private and professional life elegantly embodied the American Dream of all Jewish immigrants fleeing the Czars and other forms of oppression in the early 20th century,” Lauder said. “America was a new opportunity for people like Kirk’s parents, where anything was possible, and in the success that these immigrants found, they gave back more to this country in arts, academia, and business than we could possibly imagine.”

“Even after he became a Hollywood icon, Kirk took great pride in his Jewish identity and roots, all the more evidently so later in life, and he was always an ardent friend of Israel. As I said in November 2016, when we had the privilege of honoring him with the WJC Teddy Kollek Award for the Advancement of Jewish Culture, Kirk Douglas is, without a doubt, one of America’s and the Jewish people’s greatest treasures. The world has lost a paragon of a man,” Lauder said. “Our deep condolences go to Michael Douglas and his family. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”


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