Ukraine President Victor Yuschenko paid tribute to S.Y. Agnon at a gathering to mark the Nobel laureate’s 120th birthday.
Agnon, who won the prize for literature in 1966, was born in Buczacz, Galicia, now western Ukraine, and immigrated in 1908 to Ottoman Palestine. He died in 1970 in Jerusalem.
“The childhood which Agnon spent in Buczacz, Ukraine, laid a solid foundation for his talent and further creative work,” Yuschenko told the gathering’s participants July 16 in Buczacz. “Agnon received his Nobel Prize as a citizen of Israel, but simultaneously the best of his works are about the fate of Galicia Jews, those who lived in Ukraine and those who immigrated to other countries.”
Agnon was awarded the Nobel with poet Nelly Sachs. Writing in Hebrew and Yiddish, he was a central figure of modern Hebrew fiction.
Yuschenko added that “the celebration of honor of the Jewish genius, whom the Ukrainian land gave to mankind, is a graphic evidence of Ukrainian-Jewish solidarity and intensifies the traditional Ukrainian-Israeli friendship.”
Boris Dorfman, a longtime Jewish activist in Lvov and a conference participant, called the gathering “a very important celebration of a Jewish genius.” He also cited Yuschenko’s greetings and tribute to Agnon as “very important.”