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.
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.
President Isaac Herzog's full eulogy:
I wish to begin by thanking everyone who has come, everyone who sent condolence messages, and everyone accompanying us from near and afar. I thank you, distinguished Ambassadors and foreign dignitaries, for your words of comfort and for your friendship during this time of great loss.
Honored guests and friends, 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.
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 center 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.
Darling mother, these past few years were not simple. We, your descendents and family, thank from the bottom of our hearts everyone who cared for you and helped us protect you: Leah, Shirley, Hayah, Yaki, doctors and medical teams. On behalf of all generations of our family--Joel, Michael, Ronit, and me, our children, and our partners--we thank you, mother, for everything you gave father and us.
Today, half a jubilee later, you are united with father, the knight of your life. I hope and believe that together, both of you up there in heaven are comforted by the fact that we here are continuing your great mission, for the sake of the People of Israel and the State of Israel. May your great and blessed soul be bound in the bond of life. Amen."