Aura Herzog, Mother of Israeli President, Dies at 97

A well-known public figure and activist, Aura Herzog was the wife of Chaim Herzog and mother of Isaac Herzog

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Aura Herzog and husband Chaim Herzog in Spain, 1992
Aura Herzog and husband Chaim Herzog in Spain, 1992Credit: יעקב סער / לעמ
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Aura Herzog, the mother of Israeli President Isaac Herzog and wife of the country’s president, Chaim Herzog, died on Monday. She was 97.

The President’s Office said she died peacefully at her home and will be buried alongside her husband in the Great Leaders of the Nation plot on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. 

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called her “a public figure and activist who loved her people and her country.”

Herzog was best known for having founded in 1969 the Council for a Beautiful Israel, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the quality of life, and establishing Yad Chaim Herzog, a foundation in memory of her late husband.

After Chaim Herzog left office as president in 1993, she served as the chairwoman of the public committee for Israel’s jubilee celebration. She also served in a number of other public positions, including as a member of the advisory councils for the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Mifal Hapayis national lottery.

She was born as Aura Ambache in Egypt after her father had been deported from Ottoman Palestine by Turkish authorities during World War I. Her father was a senior engineer for the Suez Canal, and her sister, Suzy, latter married Abba Eban, who became foreign minister.

Aura Ambache immigrated to British Mandatory Palestine in 1946 and joined the Haganah, the pre-independence army of Palestine’s Jews. That same year, she entered the first class of the school for diplomats established by the Jewish Agency for Israel. She married Chaim Herzog in 1947.

During Israel’s War of Independence, she served as an intelligence officer and later in the Science Corps. She was seriously injured in the March 1948  Arab terror attack on the Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem, in which 13 were killed.

The Herzog family lived in the United States from 1950 to 1954, when Chaim Herzog served as the military attaché in Washington, and again from 1975 to 1978, when he was named Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations. 

Aura Herzog served as the secretary general of the committee for the events for 10th anniversary of Israel’s founding, during which she proposed the first international Bible contest. She also served as the director of the Council for Culture and the Arts. In 1971, she published a book on proper etiquette and customs called “Secrets of Hospitality.”

Chaim Herzog died in 1997. She is survived by her four children, who include Michael Herzog, a former army general and now the Israeli ambassador to the United States, as well as by 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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