Miriam Peretz, a mother who lost two of her sons in Israel's wars, moved an audience of 250 students to tears in a lecture Thursday at the Ono Academic Center's program for religious Zionism.
The strength of the state stands upon the private citizen, the one who buries his child and suffers from Katyushas," she said.
She ended her lecture with words that moved the audience to tears. "After 120 [the maximum number of years that a person can expect to live, according to Jewish tradition – ed.], when I come before the Holy One, I will give him three presents. The first present – a thorn, one of the thorns I used to pull out of Eliraz's hands when he came back from basic training. A second present – a thread from the tallit of Eliezer, my late husband, who used to spread his tallit and bless all of the soldiers that G-d will keep them safe in their journey and that they would return home safely. A third gift – a clod of earth from the grave of my son, Uriel."
Miriam Peretz's son Maj. Eliraz Peretz was killed in Gaza in March of 2010. His brother 2nd Lt. Uriel Peretz was killed in Lebanon in 1998. Their father, Eliezer, died of a broken heart.
Miriam Peretz, who has become a symbol of fortitude, spoke with optimism and power. She told of her aliyah to Israel from Morocco, of the path her life has taken since, and of her decision to embrace life.
Zionist Judaism program head Rav Moshe Reis said that the meeting between Peretz and the students was "powerful and immensely important." The Peretz family represents "self-sacrifice, ideals, a connection to the generality of Israel, a great faith and a belief in the rightness of the path, and these are values that we find important to instill in the next generation of lawyers and economists who will grow here."