Evyatar Borovsky: A Settler With an Actor’s Legacy
In the recent media coverage of Evyatar Borovsky’s murder, the 31-year-old father of five young children was described in several international reports as a “hardline settler.” Borovsky, who hailed from the community of Yitzhar, was on his way to a theater rehearsal when he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian on the morning of April 30 at the Tapuach Junction, a central point for busses and hitchhiking used by Arabs and Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.
“Even Israelis outside of Judea and Samaria are not familiar with life here,” the spokesman for Yitzhar, Avraham Binyamin told Tazpit News Agency. “There is a rich theater and arts culture in Judea and Samaria, and there are many residents who work in these professions.” In Yitzhar alone, there are three different acting groups.
“It is important for us to give a human face to this tragedy – Evyatar was a story in himself,” says Binyamin.
Borovsky was a popular actor in the Ar El Group, an acting troupe made up of settlers from Judea and Samaria, which performs across Israel. The group incorporates improvisation, psychodrama and other role-playing techniques to help others overcome traumatic experiences through theater.
In addition to his work as an actor, Borovsky was also studying to become a licensed clown therapist in order to work with sick children in hospitals.
His close friends and acting colleagues describe Borovsky as a shy man who found acting as an outlet to express himself.
“Life was not easy for Evyatar,” says his close friend and fellow actor of the Ar El Group, Assaf Yossef Pney-el. “Although many people saw him as a happy, cheerful person, always joking, there was another side as well.”
“Many times Evyatar had to cancel rehearsals because he had to bring his sick daughter to the hospital. Just recently the car he had bought broke down. It seemed that life was always throwing hardballs at him.”
“But he knew how to turn bad situations and describe them in a funny way. He knew how to smile at life,” recalls Pney-el.
Borovsky always carried with him a toy – a pair of puppet eyes in his work bag; two plastic eyeballs that he would place on his fingers to create a hand puppet in his theater work. “It was a kind of animated character that Evyatar would use in his work and his interaction with children,” explains Pney-el. “We talked about how this character would be his trademark as a clown therapist and so we ordered a bunch of these puppet eyes from the US. They arrived on the day of he was stabbed.”
Borovsky’s friend and another fellow actor, Oshri Maimon, who also went through a terror attack in the Otniel community and saw four of his friends killed, decided that the best thing that could done with the puppet eyes was to bring them to Evyatar’s funeral and give them out to family and friends. “It was in the spirit of Evyatar, to bring his way of coping with tragedy and pain” Maimon explains.
“Evyatar was simple, innocent and honest. He would take everyone seriously and never looked down at anyone. He could make little kids laugh and talk to them in a language that they would understand,” continues Maimon.
“In order to really know Evyatar, you had to see him when he acted,” elaborates Maimon, referring to a video available on YouTube of an Ar El Group play called “How I Met Ahmed,” in which Borovsky starred in. The play, which is acted out mostly in English, demonstrates the frustration of many in the settler community as they address their place in Israeli society.
Yosef Ben-Avraham, Borovsky’s neighbor who spoke at his funeral, added that when he saw Evyatar’s body after the stabbing, he saw someone “who looked similar to Evyatar.”
“I couldn’t believe it was him. I wasn’t able to recognize Evyatar without his smile.”