Actress Zaharira Harifai died Wednesday at the age of 83 after a long battle with cancer.
Harifai, who won the Israel Prize in Theater in 2003, is survived by her husband, writer Shlomo Shva, her daughter, actress and director Aya Shva, and two grandchildren.
In the past year, Harifai starred in the Cameri Theater's play "Happy End," which deals with cancer. The play was written by Anat Gov,
who suffered from the same disease and died about three weeks ago.
Harifai won the Best Actress in Theater award for her role in the play in 2011.
Harifai at Anat Gov's funeral in December (Photo: Shaul Golan)
Harifai was born in December 1929 and grew up in Tel Aviv. Her father was Haim Leib Harifai, a Hebrew teacher who immigrated from Russia in 1924 and worked as a journalist until he died from pneumonia when Zaharira was just four years old.
In 1946, she studied at the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School and later joined the first brigade of the Palmach fighting force.
She studied acting in "Hadramati" school near the Cameri Theater, and her first role after graduating was as a choir girl in a Habima Theater play.
In the late 1950s, she was part of the Batzal Yarok ("green onion") theater and entertainment troupe and began performing at the Haifa Theater.
Throughout her long career she starred in many theater productions and films, including "The Policeman" and "Sallah," and directed a number of plays.
In 'Happy End' with Anat Waxman (Photo: Gerard Alon)
Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat said after learning of Harifai's death, "Today we lost one of the milestones of Israeli culture. Zaharira is one of the theater giants of our generation. A wonderful and dedicated actress, who devoted herself to the stage and audience till her very last moments.
"She was a real cultural hero, an example for many generations of actors and actresses. I would like to offer my condolences to her family. May she rest in peace."
Harifai's coffin will be placed at 12:30 pm Thursday at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv, where a special ceremony will be held in her honor at 1 pm. Her funeral will take place at the civil cemetery in Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha at 3 pm.