Yohanan Goldman, a translator and a gentleman, 1922-2009

What a trite-sounding heading! Mr. Goldman would grimace, I'm sure.
But I can't help it – I can no longer consult him, and this is how I feel about him. Erudite, wise, discerning, kind… old-worldly in the best sense of the word. And a wonderful translator and editor. Co-founder and co-owner of the company, he translated Ephraim Kishon from Hebrew to English before Miriam Arad took over that responsibility. Anyone who's translated great humorists knows what a tricky job it is.
Personally, I owe Mr. Goldman a huge debt of gratitude: he was the one who approved my sample translation and editing when I applied for the job of in-house editor at Hever Translators Pool in 2002.

At the time, I saw the Hever ad in the paper, thought I was eminently suitable, and sent off my CV. I got no response, but the ad continued to appear. Why are they still looking, I said to myself, when I've already sent them the perfect CV? I sent it again. This time, a cheerful but not very hopeful-sounding girl got back to me. She had trashed my previous application because it said specifically that I was Israeli-born and my mother tongue was Hebrew [and English], and she strongly believed that that wasn't good enough. Out of sheer desperation, she decided to give me a chance. It later turned out that both my sample translation and sample editing passed Mr. Goldman's scrutiny. I got the job, and worked there for four and a half years.

During that time, Mr. Goldman and I would consult each other, exchange dictionaries, browse the extensive reference book shelves, or just bring each other amusing or interesting articles we came across. He had a twinkle in his eye and a calming presence. I miss him already.

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Am pasting below the text of a letter my mother wrote to Mr. Goldman. His gracious reply is filed somewhere among her personal papers, and as soon as a find it, I'll paste that, too.
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Clara Caren Rimon
12/2 Fichman St.
Ramat Aviv


22 April 2006


Mr. Y. Goldman
Hever Translators Pool
Tel Aviv


Dear Mr. Goldman:

When I heard your name mentioned, I immediately associated it with “the genius who translated the Ephraim Kishon column from Hebrew to English for the Jerusalem Post.”

My late husband and I would vie for first dibs on the paper to read Kishon. How you captured the very essence of Kishon, so perfectly! Sometimes we would get to see the Hebrew, too, and we would marvel at your choice of words that would exactly convey Kishon’s feeling and intention. “How does he do it?” we would ask. Anyone can enjoy Kishon, but for us to be able to enjoy his work in our mother-tongue was an even greater pleasure.

I’ve never read any other of your translations but I feel sure they must be superb.

Kol hakavod! (I’ve never been able to translate that satisfactorily!)


Yours sincerely,

Clara Caren Rimon

2 comments:

תרגום said...

Great Translator.

Nina R. Davis said...

Absolutely! Anyone who can do justice to E. Kishon is a gifted translator.

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