Ronit Elkabetz, three-time Israeli Oscar winner, dies at 51

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Ronit Elkabetz, a three-time winner of Israel’s version of the Oscars, has died at 51.

Elkabetz, who won Ophir Awards for her performances in “Sh’Chur,” “Late Marriage” and “The Band’s Visit,” died Monday night of cancer.

“Late Marriage” (2001) was Elkabetz’s first film that was widely viewed outside of Israel, performing particularly well in the United States, Britain and France. She played a divorced Moroccan-Israeli single mother who has an affair with a man several years younger.

Michal Aviad, who cast Elkabetz as the lead in her film “Invisible,” described the actress as “one of the wisest women I ever met.”


“Her understanding of how people act and how their relationships are expressed – in a look, in a touch, in a sentence – was exceptional and full of sensitivity, to the point that I was astonished each time anew to discover how much she knows about life,” Aviad told Haaretz.

Her 2003 performance in Amos Gitai’s “Alila” opened at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Camera d’Or prize for best debut.

Her first film appearance was at age 26, in the starring role of Daniel Wachsmann’s “The Appointed,” according to Haaretz. The Beersheba native studied acting at the Hadar Theater.

In addition to acting, Elkabetz wrote and directed films, including “To Take a Wife” (2005), which won several international prizes. She also starred in several French films.

Elkabetz’s death “is a huge loss for the film world and for Israeli culture,” Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said.

Since 2012, Elkabetz served as president of Achoti (My Sister), a Mizrahi feminist organization.

Elkabetz is survived by her husband, architect Avner Yashar; their 4-year-old twin sons; her parents, and three brothers.

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