Israeli translator Ivan Joel Hajoš: I want to help bridge the Israeli and Czech/Slovak cultures

Ivan Joel Hajoš, photo: archive Czech Centre in Tel Aviv

Ivan Joel Hajoš was born in Czechoslovakia in 1946 and has lived in Israel since 1969. He used to work as a mathematician and data analyst in a state research institution. Since his retirement he works as a free-lance translator from Czech and Slovak into Hebrew and vice-versa. In the third part of a series of interviews with Israelis with Czechoslovak roots conducted by the Czech Centre in Tel Aviv she talks to the centre’s head Robert Mikoláš about his work, his love of the Czechoslovak New Wave and his plans for the future.

Ivan Joel Hajoš,  photo: archive of Czech Centre in Tel Aviv
What are you working on now?

“There are two films, both from the sixties, which are scheduled for a coming summer festival of Czech cinema, which hopefully will be shown in August: "Coach to Vienna" (dir. Karel Kachyňa) and "When the Cat Comes" (dir. Vojtěch Jasný). I have the privilege and the pleasure to translate the dialogues into Hebrew and to synchronize the subtitles. The postproduction of these subtitles will be done by the lab of the National Film Archive in Prague (yes, Hebrew subtitles in Prague!). We have cooperated since 2018.”

Why do you like films from the Czechoslovak New Wave of the 1960s?

“I was born in Czechoslovakia and turned 14 in 1960. So I actually grew up in the atmosphere of the sixties: Suchý-Šlitr, the political thaw, Literární noviny, all the big names of Czech literature, theatre, and of course my favorite Czech movies including the New wave. This is my innermost cultural background.”

How do Israelis perceive and accept Czechoslovak and Czech cinematography and why?

“The commercial cinema here is flooded by the global commercial deluge. Some of it is fine, of course. Milos Forman is the only name that a person in the street would probably acknowledge. Generally, people here appreciate mostly the Czech sense of humor and satire, the know-how and brilliance of Czech cinematographers, the superb Czech actors, but the broad range of creativity of Czech film artists has now only a single platform: The Cinematheques. And we see enthusiastic acceptance of all the genres of Czech cinema, both contemporary and classical by all age groups. The Israelis are starting to "discover" the European roots of our culture, after years of mostly American influences.”

What are your plans for the future? Do you translate books as well?

“A book I translated from Hebrew to Slovak (Robert Zvi Bornstein: Flashes in the Darkness) was recently accepted for publishing by Marenčin in Bratislava. These days I also started to translate a theatrical play from Czech into Hebrew – but it is too early to talk about it. I would like to translate some Czech prose too. And I am definitely thinking of translating from Hebrew to Czech as well - subtitles and prose. I would like to contribute as much as possible and put a few bricks of my own to the bridge between the Israeli and the Czech/Slovak cultures.”

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced Czech Centers around the world to go online. However they remain in communication with the public offering presentations of Czech culture, science and innovation on #CzechCultureToTheWorld.