This site is for family, friends, and colleagues of Avner Magen to post their thoughts and memories of him. Avner died in a climbing accident on May 29, 2010, in Alaska.

Avner was a beloved and devoted father, husband and son; a terrifically warm, funny, and energetic person; a brilliant and creative researcher; and a wonderful friend and colleague.

Please share your stories, memories and words of support by sending an email to You may also post comments to any entry. Visit this Photo Site for a photo memorial of Avner and his family and friends. Instructions for adding pictures appear next to the album.

More details appear on the Avner Magen Memorial page.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Allison Doerr

I met Avner when my husband Iannis was a postdoc at the University of Toronto. Whenever I would work from Iannis's office, Avner would often stop by to chat about their research. There was always a lot of laughter and references to Curb Your Enthusiasm. Avner was always friendly and smiling; it was clear that he was very well liked by all of the graduate students and postdocs in the computer science department.

One memorable day, Avner and Iannis were working on a proof on the whiteboard. The proof was so complex that they ran out of Greek letters to use as variables, so Avner, with a glint in his eye, decided they needed to invent a new symbol which he called "xona". Much laughter ensued; Avner was so pleased and amused by his invention. Several months later he recounted the story in an impromptu speech at our wedding; remembering it even now still makes me laugh.

My best wishes to Avner's family who have suffered an unthinkable loss; I hope you find the strength to heal. We will miss Avner very much.

Shimi Tagner and family


כך באמצע שנות חייך

שהחיים היפים עוד לפניך

קשה לעמוד ולהספיד אדם

שבנסיבות טראגיות ליבו נדם.

אבנר,היית לכולנו נר

נר שדולק ומאיר את הדרך

אדם עם אישיות ובעל ערך

הקמת משפחה לתפארת

אתה ורעייתך איילת.

הקדשת מזמנך הפנוי לחינוך ומשחק

ולא התלוננת על עייפות וכוחך נשחק

את כישוריך העריכו מאוד ילדיך

וכעת יהיה להם קשה בלעדיך

את אהבתך לילדים ולאיילת

הקדשת למסעדה,טיול בהרים,או בטיילת

אדם צנוע וישר

ומעל הכל גם יקר

אהבתך לטיולים בחגים ובשבתות

סחפה את כל המשפחה בחוויות

אך בליבך עמוק,היה נטוע תחביב

ולא חשוב אם זה בחורף או באביב

והוא אתגר בטיפוס על כל הר

שבסופו הביא את מותך המר.

ולכם עופרי,נועה,רועי ואיילת מגן

אלוהים ישמור עליכם,ויגן

הכאב עם הסתלקותך הוא חד

וזיכרונך יישאר עימנו לעד.

יהיה זכרך ברוך

איתכם תמיד משפחת טגנר:אתי וזאב,שלומית,אורן ועדי,רומי ושי,שימי קרן וגל.


In The middle life
Beautiful life ahead of you
It is Difficult to eulogize a man
That In Tragic circumstances is Heart had stopped.

Avner, you have been a candle for all of us
A Candle that was lighting the way
A person with valuable personal
You have Establish a wonderful family
You and your wife Ayelet.

You have dedicate your spare time to education and play

And did not complained of fatigue
Your children appreciated Your skills very much

And Now It will be hard without you
Your love for your children and Ayelet
Dedicate to the restaurant, a trip to the mountains, or stroll
Modest and honest person
Above all beloved.

Your love for travel during holidays and on Saturdays
Swept the whole family experiences
But deep in your heart, was planted the Hobby
No matter if it's winter or spring
This is the challenge to climb any mountain
Eventually led to the bitter death.

And To you Ofri, Noa, Roee Ayelet Magen
God protect you
The pain with your death is sharp

Your memory will remain with us forever.

Blessed be your memory

Always with you Tagner's Family: Eti & Zeev ,Shlomit, Oren & Adi, Romi & Shay , Shimi Keren & Gal.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jeremy Cho

For me, one of Avner's greatest strengths as an adviser was
his sharp attention to detail and desire to understand every
step of an argument that was presented to him. At first I
found this to be intimidating and often spent late nights
before meetings refining my proofs and even attempting to
predict the clarifying questions he would ask. As a result,
I gradually began crystalizing my thoughts in the same way
that Avner did - with an intuitive geometric picture instead
of the rambling narrative I was so accustomed to. The fact
that he treated my ideas with a level of respect and
interest normally reserved for seasoned researchers also
provided a vital boost to my self-confidence at a time when
I was unsure about my place in graduate school.

There are many Avner moments that will be forever etched in
my memory - our multi-part conversations on the merits of
the phrase "it is what it is", the day I walked into his
combinatorial optimization final with an arsenal of Red
Bulls and the good-natured ribbing I received in the many
months to follow, and the endless amusement he derived from
my dependency on goose-down jackets on days when he would be
wearing shorts. In one of our last conversations, I shared
with him my dilemna of what I should do following my
Master's degree and the response I got was typical Avner -
honest, thoughtful, encouraging, and of course peppered with
his irreplaceable sense of humor. For all these reasons and
more, I will never forget him.

Cathy Indig

I will remember Avner fondly for a man who truly adored his
family. I was able to witness his relationship with Ofri on
a daily basis as the two of them came in each morning,
usually with rosy cheeks from the bike ride they has just
taken. Rain, sun or snow, they pedaled their way to the
MNjcc. Avner always had a smile on his face and it was quite
evident that he adored his son. They would both come in
happy and singing.

Avner, we will miss you dearly.

Ken Montgomery

While travelling in Romania, it was with great shock and
sadness that I heard the news about Avner. I am still in
Europe presenting academic papers and thus unable to attend
the memorial service. Avner so obviously loved his family
and I cannot begin to comprehend how this loss impacts each
of them. To Avner, thank you for your sharing of
adventures, your always supportive conversation while I
sorted out challenges in my life, those coffee chats in
which we humourously tried to make sense of one another's
academic work, your friendship and support for the
friendship between Rie and Noa, and for your many generous
smiles. To say that you will be missed is obviously
understaing it. To Ayelet and the children, please accept
my most sincere condolences.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cole Zemel

Avner is unforgettable. Every time I saw him, he drew
my attention. I had a lot of fun times with him and his
family and I want to tell Roy, Noa, Ofri and Ayelet that I
am incredibly sorry and if there is anything I can do to
help just let me know. Roy, Noa and I will definitely have
a trampoline party soon! And we can eat some more amazing
guacamole with Ayelet.

Avner is a daredevil and a real go-getter. Always up for a
new climbing trip or marathon. He died doing something he

Lots of love, Cole Zemel

Ella Pitassi

It was such terrible and shocking news to hear about
Avner's loss. It is still so hard to believe since it is
definitely not right. It was just a couple of weeks ago
when I last saw him when the Magen family came over for
dinner. It always has to be that the best people leave us

Avner always had a positive outlook on life. He was so
funny as he knew how to make everyone laugh no matter what
the situation was. Clearly he was active and very
inspiring. He was also great company and overall an
amazing father, friend and just a great person.

Roy, Noa, Ofri, and Ayelet I am so sorry this had to happen
to you. I cannot imagine how hard it is for you right now.
You 4 are great though and you have so many friends and
loving family members and we all are here for you if you
need or want anything!

Antonina Kolokolova

I met Avner during his postdoc time at UofT. We talked
sometimes in the theory corridor, mainly about Russian
language (he once asked me how to say "diapers" in Russian
-- I didn't know) and Russian music. There were many songs
that both of us knew, mainly songs by Vladimir Vysotsky.
And there is one of these songs, "the summit",
that I keep thinking of ever since I heard the tragic news.

The song is about mountaineers, and one last summit they
don't get to reach. About the beauty and the ultimate danger
of such life: and yet that it is a better end than "from
drinking and colds". About the characteristic traits of
mountaineers -- friendship, courage, appreciation for the
beauty of nature. Like Avner...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sue McGlashan

It has taken me some time to know what I wanted to say about Avner. I saw the quieter side of him, but better understand his small smile when he asked me to join his seminars on this campus - he knew that my math was not at the standard to understand much, but he still included me.

On the 6th June I cycled the Becel 50 km, dedicating the ride to Avner, and stopping for a while at 10 A.M. It was cold, very wet, and very windy, and I might not have gone to cycle if it had not been for the image I had of Avner shaking his head. I know he would have been laughing at and with me, and despite the conditions, I enjoyed that event.

I will remember him when I cycle and run. He lived for living. Thank you, Ayelet, for understanding why I wanted to cycle.

Jennifer L. Salter

I shared a taxi with Avner last fall to the start of the Toronto marathon. Andrew suggested we go together, and spoke of Avner as a good friend and good person. On the way there, Avner told me he had missed qualifying for the Boston marathon before by a close margin, and was intending on trying again to run a time of 3:20 - which he did. He gave me advice in preparation of running my first marathon as well.

I ran into him at the Purim carnival at the JCC in April - he was helping Ofri on some preschool play equipment and seemed so sweet with him.

I am so sorry that this happened. It is so unfair.

Jaikumar Radhakrishnan

I met Avner when I visited the Hebrew University in 1996. I am certain I did not meet him on the first day. He wrote to me about six months ago: "The news is that I am arriving to India with Roy (13 yo, born the day you came to huji if I remember correctly...)." When we did meet, a few days later, he was working in the lab and listening to music on his radio.

We met and talked often. I learnt that he had visited central Asia and climbed mountains there. He showed me pictures of many of these places, including a rocky peak (in Turkey I think), where you shouted something each time you dislodged a rock and sent it crashing down, so that climbers below could watch out. I learnt that he loved the sounds of the Russian language, and had picked it just by listening. My Russian-speaking friends confirmed that he was excellent at it.

He tried to teach me to climb. He took me a few times to practise at the Valley of Hinnom. One of these visits I remember quite vividly today. Since traversing the rocks there was rather easy for him, he did not bring any helmets for us. He allowed me, however, to use my bicycling helmet. He told me about how he spent some time climbing in Switzerland in the company of a Scotsman, and imitated his accent. He was very patient, when my limbs did not respond to the Scotsman's commands. I also remember the conversation while we were packing up as the sun was going down. He suddenly stopped and said: "You are not interested in what I am saying. You are not paying attention". To redeem myself, I immediately repeated the three previous sentences. He said: "That does not mean you were paying attention. Ayelet does the same thing all the time!" A few weeks later, he promised to take me on a more challenging climb. He came home on Friday morning. My parents were visiting us then. I remember him mentioning to me as we got into his car that my father asked him "his good name." He was amused when he heard that this was some sort of politeness translated from Hindi into English. He thought hard as to why one would say such a thing, as if considering if it was a custom he would want to adopt himself.

As the time approached for us to leave Jerusalem, Sumana and I were invited for dinner. We met Ayelet for the first time at their place. In the years since, I have met him off and on, each time renewing old memories and forming new ones. I visited him in Toronto and stayed at their place: Royi had grown up and Noa was still very small. Noa and I got along so very well, I got a certificate from Ayelet for being good with small kids. Avner had to cut it off by saying that it was bedtime, not time to be silly. He took me to an ice hockey stadium near his home.

He got in touch a few months before his visit to India in December 2009. When we met in Kanpur, he seemed very happy. I invited him to Mumbai, but he had already planned the visit to Nepal.

We will miss his warmth. Whenever he was around, the world just seemed very comfortable, rather the world did not seem to matter. He smiled, he mocked, he understood, he explained, and whatever did not yield to these, he just took in his stride.

I wish to convey my deepest respect to the members of his family, some of whose messages I just read here. I respected Avner for his originality and independence, but believe what we admired in him was derived after all from those he was closest to. I draw comfort from the fact that these virtues still survives in them, and hope that recognising this will help them get over the terrible tragedy of his passing.