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Issie Granoth 1924-2015

Issie Granoth

My father Issie,

I would like to share with you the story of my father's life. Yitzhak Yisrael was known simply as 'Issie' from the day he was born in 1924 in Brenowice, a town that alternated between Polish and Russian rule – which possibly explains his lifelong restlessness.

At the age of seven he moved with his family to Cape Town, South Africa. At seventeen he falsified his age in order to fight in the South African army in Italy during the Second World War. After the war he returned to South Africa, but not before visiting Palestine. In South Africa he underwent training in the South African communist movement, after which he was forced to flee on a fishing boat to Israel where he joined the air force and traveled to Czechoslovakia to smuggle in the air force's first aircraft.

After a while, Issie returned to South Africa to study architecture at Cape Town University. He, later returned to Israel to work for the architects' office of Vitkover. He designed buildings such as the Sheraton Hotel on the Metzitzim (Peeping Tom) Beach and worked on the restoration of the Ramat Aviv Museum synagogue.

He later met and married my mother, Lydia. They lived on Bar Kochba Street in Tel Aviv, where I was born and where my father manufactured alcohol in the bathroom (which is probably the reason for my great thirst). After my sister Dafna was born we moved to Tanzania for two years, returning to Israel for a few months, and then setting off to Kenya for a further two years, where Issie even built his own sailboats.

For several years after returning to Israel Issie worked for the architect, Yaakov Rechter, and then decided to return to South Africa alone. Some of you are probably feeling dizzy by now, but the story is not yet over. In South Africa Issie met his second wife, a well-known chef who was considerably younger than him. They married and decided to return, once more, to Israel where they set up a catering business. After three years he again returned to South Africa with his wife. They established an amazing restaurant in Cape Town's beautiful botanical gardens.

Eighteen months ago I was called urgently to be with my father because he was about to undergo major heart surgery. I went. Fortunately, at the age of 90, the surgery was successful. The honor fell to me to carry out the planned renovation of their restaurant and to share the results with him. A few months later he was back in action, sitting in the botanical gardens, shouting at the waiters in his restaurant.

However, a few days ago they told him he had cancer and only a few months to live. We called him immediately and he asked us to book him a hotel room because he was coming to visit us in Israel! Less than two days after the telephone call he was hospitalized with severe pneumonia, and my sister and I took the first available flight to South Africa. Even though he was unconscious, he moved in his bed when I held his hand. After two days, during which he regained consciousness and we chatted and laughed, his condition deteriorated. Yesterday he asked to stop treatment.

As you can see, my father lived his life to the full. He had an inquiring mind and he studied, and aimed for perfection in everything he did. He was a respected architect, a talented painter and sculptor, a builder, a carpenter, and a wonderful husband and father. This remarkable man has passed his legacy on to me and I am proud to have the honor of passing it on to my children.

My father left us with dignity and with a long life behind him. May his memory be blessed.

Translated from the Hebrew by Norman Silbert 



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Wednesday, 07 June 2023

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