The Queen Mother: At 96, Ruth Dayan Is Still Not Ready to Rest on Her Laurels

As the head of one of the most famous families in Israel, Ruth Dayan has lived through the entire history of the state and contributed much to building it. Today, at 96, she’s still in no mood to relinquish her crown.

She sits in a chair with carved wooden arms, wearing a bubble gum-pink skirt and exposing surprisingly shapely shins and bare feet. (“Did you buy it in Alembika? Is the design by Hagar Alembik?” I ask, and she replies, “It’s maybe 50 years old, from Maskit; it used to be red, but has faded with the years.”) Next to her is a...