Immigrants from Scandinavian countries are often regarded as part of the English-speaking community in Israel because their level of English is so high. This was certainly true of Bent Schalimtzek, who made aliyah from Denmark with his wife Pia and their three children in 1986. The Schalimtzeks made their home in Raanana and immediately forged many close and lasting friendships with immigrants from English-speaking countries. Indeed, Pia and Bent were our first neighbors when we made aliyah and they welcomed us into their circle of friends.
Bent was born in Copenhagen in 1946 and married Pia in 1974. He worked in public relations, liaising with the media on behalf of various companies. He was active in B’nai B’rith and organized cultural activities for the Danish Jewish community. After he came to Israel, Bent wrote features about Israel for Danish magazines and wrote a book of memoirs about his life as a Jew living in a non-Jewish environment in Denmark. He also imported Danish products such as salmon and beer to Israel. In recent years he worked increasingly as a translator of English to Danish and often remarked latterly how happy he was to be in this line of work, because he was able to carry on throughout his illness. He regularly attended Shabbat morning services at Lechu Neranena shul in Raanana and he continued to go in a wheelchair, pushed by Pia, when the walk became too difficult. The week before he died he came to shul and stayed chatting to friends afterwards as usual.
Bent had strong opinions which he never hesitated to express directly to the person he might be criticizing. But he generally had a wide smile and a twinkle in his eye, so it was difficult to take offense. Bent viewed it as a mission to bring his family to Israel and he derived much pleasure from the success and happiness his children achieved. He warmly welcomed his daughter-in-law and two sons-in-law to the family and was delighted at the arrival of his two granddaughters. Although Bent had been seriously ill for two years, he was always positive and optimistic, so his death in August, soon after his 64th birthday, came as a shock. He will be greatly missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.