Educator Miriam Peretz, Who Lost Two Sons in Combat, Wins Israel Prize

The 64-year old has featured in lecture tours for young people and soldiers, while traveling to communities around the world and helping bereaved families

Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons in combat, speaking in 2010.
Moti Milrod

Educator Miriam Peretz, two of whose sons were killed in combat, has won the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement for “strengthening the Jewish-Israeli spirit.”

The 64-year-old Peretz, whose sons were killed 12 years apart, is an educator. Twelve of this year’s 13 Israel Prize recipients have been announced and only two are women.

The prize committee noted that since her sons’ deaths, Peretz “has dedicated her life to education and instilling Zionist Jewish heritage, undertaking lecture tours for young people and Israeli soldiers, as well as traveling to communities around the world to light our way and strengthen our hand. Beyond that, Miriam has been assisting bereaved families and army wounded.”

Peretz was a torch lighter on Independence Day four years ago, and on election day in 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote that his first call once the results came in would be to Peretz.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett noted that Peretz “has dedicated her life to educational activity. Miriam didn’t choose her difficult life circumstances, but she has chosen to live and enliven an entire people. She is the mother of us all.”

Among this year’s recipients are former Foreign Minister David Levy, the writer David Grossman, journalist Ron Ben-Yishai, industrialists Yehuda and Dita Bronicki, high-tech executive Gil Shwed and musicologist Edwin Seroussi.

Last week it was disclosed that the vast majority of candidates for this year’s prize were men and half the women under consideration were for the category Hebrew literature and poetry. Most of the prize-committee members were men, although the panel was headed by a woman.

In addition, over the past 18 years, the vast majority of Israel Prize recipients have been Ashkenazi men and only 18 percent women. In that period, only one recipient was not Jewish — was Kamal Mansour, a Druze public figure who won the prize in 2010 for lifetime achievement. There has never been a Muslim recipient.

The Israel Prize ceremony will take place in Jerusalem on April 19, when the country celebrates its 70th birthday.