Crossposted from Haaretz
On Friday morning, the ninth-grade students in the jazz program at the Thelma Yellin High School for Arts were learning about the history of jazz with their beloved teacher, Amit Golan. That same day there was a test. The questions were about Duke Ellington, Art Tatum and other early jazz giants, whom Golan had taught his students to love. Because the test finished early, and there remained another hour of the double lesson, Golan suggested to his class that they go down to the yard and play basketball. He, too, joined the game.
“We went downstairs, started playing and after a few minutes I saw that Amit was getting tired and breathing heavily,” said one of the students, Eyal Tzur. A few minutes later Golan collapsed. A Magen David Adom crew summoned to the school was unable to revive him. He died of a heart attack, at the age of 46.
Grief spread through Israel’s jazz community upon learning of Golan’s death. Students, colleagues and jazz fans alike had a hard time digesting the news that this energetic and passionate man who taught hundreds of students, including some of the leading jazz musicians in the country — and who set up a solid educational infrastructure for teaching music that will doubtless educate many more generations — will not be able to continue with his important life work.