Former First Lady Aura Herzog is laid to rest at the Great Leaders of the Nation Plot on Mount Herzl

January 13, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The late Mrs Aura Herzog, mother of President Isaac Herzog and widow of the sixth President of Israel Chaim Herzog, was laid to rest today at a funeral service at the Great Leaders of the Nation Plot on Mount Herzl.

President Herzog delivers the eulogy Photo: Haim Zac

The funeral was attended by hundreds of officials and citizens who came to pay their last respects. Among them were the Prime Minister and his wife, the Leader of the Opposition and his wife, the IDF Chief of Staff, the Commissioner of the Israel Police, the Director of Mossad, the Director of the Israel Security Agency, ministers, many members of Knesset past and present, ambassadors, intellectuals, artists and religious leaders.

President Isaac Herzog eulogized his mother. Eulogies were also delivered by the President’s brother Ambassador Mike Herzog, former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, grandson Noam Herzog and granddaughter Maayan Bronsky. The funeral was officiated by IDF Chief Cantor Shai Abramson, who also delivered a eulogy.

During President Isaac Herzog’s eulogy, he said: “I stand here first of all as a son grieving his mother. This situation, in which one’s personal pain is intermingled with a public dimension, is not simple, even though it has been part of life for us for several generations. I am sure that I speak for my brothers and sister–Joel, Michael, and Ronit–and all members of the family when I say that her whole life, our mother, Aura, knew how to withstand this complexity and contend with it wisely, and it is from her that we draw our strength and inspiration.

My dear, beloved mother, now we are laying you to eternal rest, here in the Great Leaders of the Nation Plot on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, next to the love of your life, our father Chaim Herzog, of blessed memory–your Vivian. It does not matter at what age people part; it is always difficult and painful.

President Haim Herzog

Mother, you had three great loves in your life. First of all, your love of our father and the family. You were his source of strength and his partner on his extraordinary life’s journey. A few minutes after we entered the President’s Residence when I entered the Presidency, Michal turned to me and said: “I always admired your mother, and now I admire her even more.” You and our father fell in love at first sight, at your parents’ home in Cairo, when father was returning from the battles of the Second World War, on his way to his parents’ home in Jerusalem, and was looking for a kosher home at which to eat. Your many years of partnership were the secret of the success of father’s mission, which in fact became your shared mission. You drew this model from Safta Sarah, of blessed memory, wife of the chief rabbi. You always described your partnership as being like a couple in a boat, rowing in close coordination, with one big oar and one little oar. For some reason, you described yourself as the one holding the smaller oar. But those who truly knew you knew that you were often the one holding the bigger oar.

You were an extremely loving mother for all of us, a source of strength, an engine with incredible energies–not always simple or easy ones, but always full of love, power, inspiration, and principles. You gave me the nickname Boujie, as an expression of your true motherly love. And in later years, you derived joy from your grandchildren and gave them too your unconditional grandmother’s love.

Your second love was for the State of Israel, for the sake of whose resurrection you made aliyah from Egypt; for whose sake you were seriously wounded in 1948; for whose success and prosperity you worked your whole life in many diverse realms. I have always wanted you to be remembered as the initiator of the Bible Quiz, in the context of the celebrations for Israel’s first decade of independence, which you coordinated–a quiz that we enjoy so much every year. But I think that today, at a time of the global climate crisis, it would be proper to note especially that you were a pioneer of the green struggle. Your life’s work over 40 years of volunteering was the Council for a Beautiful Israel and its educational centre in Yarkon Park. I will not forget how you used to stop at the lights next to a driver throwing garbage in the street and call him out, giving him back what he threw in the street. You loved beautifying our land and creating pretty corners, just as you did at the President’s Residence, and even at this plot. You fought against pollution, of the air and of the environment, when many thought that you were a nag… You conceived innovative ideas that became consensus, like flower pots on people’s balconies, the removal of antennae from roofs, civic campaigns for proper urban planning, and so much more.

You were, in your own way, a pioneer, just like your parents and your parents’ parents, who came to Israel in the Second Aliyah, drained swamps, founded Motza and Hadera, and built factories in Neve Tzedek, until they were expelled to Egypt on the orders of the Ottomans during the First World War, where you started anew, like our Patriarch Jacob. For you, the state was above all else, hence your wonderful suitability, yours and father’s, for all your roles–because your mission, your shared mission, for our nation and our state, was above all else.

Your third love was for good taste, aesthetics, warm and high-quality hospitality, for cordially welcoming guests, and for understanding the big wide world. You adapted all of these into a bestselling book, which taught generations of Israelis how to conduct themselves in a world of complex social codes, rich culture, hospitality, dress, and manners and decorum, decades before today’s reality TV and lifestyle shows. You were born on the banks of the Suez Canal, to your mother Leah and your father Simcha, a little sister to one brother and two sisters. Suzy, your big sister, married to our uncle Abba Eban, was especially close to you and had a great influence on you. You grew up in Cairo, in a cosmopolitan reality spanning worlds and epochs, between world wars and immense social and geopolitical upheavals. You came from a secular home but were a traditionalist your whole life, a great believer, and it is no coincidence that your maiden name, Ambache, is an acronym for “I Believe with Complete Faith.” This diversity was profoundly stamped on your character and spirit, and your name, Aura (“Light”) described you faithfully.”

Letters of condolences were received from world leaders.

Among the well-wishers were the President of the United States, the President of Russia, the King of Bahrain, the King of Jordan, the King of Spain, the President of Turkey, the President of Egypt, the President of France, the President of Greece, the President of Singapore, the President of Ecuador, the President of Georgia, the President of Moldova, the President of Armenia, the President of Cyprus, the nations of Brazil, Rwanda, Guatemala, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Romania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Jewish leaders from around the world.

Joe Biden, President of the United States of America: “I was saddened to hear of the passing of your mother, Aura. I extend my sincere condolences and deepest sympathies to you, your family, and all of the people of Israel as you mourn her loss. Your mother was an extraordinary individual who dedicated her life to the nation she loved. In this time of sorrow, I hope you find comfort in reflecting on the lives she touched over her many years of service to her country.” President Biden added in a handwritten postscript: “Your mother was someone who I admired greatly. To this day, I feel honoured that I met her.”

Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation: “Please accept the deepest condolences on the passing of your mother Aura Herzog. For each of us the mother is the closest and dearest person, her death is an irreparable loss. I sincerely share your grief. I wish you and your family courage and fortitude in this difficult hour.”

Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic: “Having been informed of your mother’s death, I want to share my condolences and express to you my friendship and support.”

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey: “Knowing very well that mothers’ places can never be fulfilled, I wholeheartedly share your sorrow, and wish sincere condolences on behalf of my Nation and myself. I wish Your Excellency and your grieving family, patience and steadiness.”

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain: “On behalf of the people and government of the Kingdom of Bahrain, we extend our sincere condolences to Your Excellency and to the family of the deceased, praying to God Almighty to bestow mercy and forgiveness on the deceased, and for your excellency and her relatives patience and solace.”

Felipe VI, King of Spain: “On behalf of the Spanish Government and people I wish to convey to you my most sincere condolences over such sorrowful loss. The Queen joins me in extending our deepest sympathy to your family.”

Katerina Sakellaropoulou, President of the Hellenic Republic: “It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of your mother Aura Herzog, a pioneer woman, a social and environmental activist, who passionately worked for the public good, the welfare of her compatriots, and the progress of her nation.”

Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore: “Singapore was honoured to host Mrs Herzog when she accompanied the late President Chaim Herzog on a State Visit in 1986. On that occasion, a species of orchid was named in her honour. May her memory continue to be a blessing.”

Salome Zourabichvili, President of Georgia: “Mrs. Aura Herzog’s devotion to the cause of the State of Israel is exemplary. As a social activist, First Lady, and a mother, she fought for the prosperity of Israel and raised a brilliant family. I am certain that Her legacy will continue to live on and inspire ideals of culture, patriotism and devotion for the new generations.”

After the funeral of his mother, former First Lady Aura Herzog, earlier today, President Isaac Herzog spoke tonight with the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who wished to convey their condolences for the death of his mother, Aura Herzog.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi called the President, offered his encouragement, and sought to console him at this difficult hour. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed shared that he identifies with the President’s sorrow, having lost his own father. The Crown Prince added that he has heard many good things about the President’s late mother and that he is sure, having heard about her many years of impressive work, that her name will be commemorated in a suitably honourable manner.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas also called President Herzog and asked to convey his condolences to him and to his family. “There is no doubt that the loss of a mother is a very difficult loss. I share your sorrow,” he said. President Herzog extended his thanks on behalf of himself and his family for the gesture and the words of comfort.


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