Yitzhak Navon, Israel's Fifth President, Laid to Rest at Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl Cemetery

The beloved president and playwright's coffin lay in state prior to his funeral. Navon worked for education equality and Mizrahi Jewry and is survived by his wife and two children.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Yitzhak Navon's funeral at Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl cemetary, November 8, 2015.
Yitzhak Navon's funeral at Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl cemetary, November 8, 2015.Credit: Gil Yochanan
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The coffin of Israel's fifth president, Yitzhak Navon, who died Saturday at 94-years-old at his home in Jerusalem, was laid to rest at Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl cemetery after he lay in state Sunday morning at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.

At the Sunday morning memorial, Rivlin placed a wreath on his coffin and eulogized the former president, saying:

"You were a man of the people and above the rest - a beacon that illuminates when the way is not clear enough, when you arrive for the last time, the president's residence in Israel, on behalf of the people of Israel, on behalf of the presidents of Israel throughout history, we separate from you today, bowing Head and longing large-bye."

Israel's fifth President Yitzhak Navon lying in state, Jerusalem, Nov. 8, 2015.Credit: Olivia Fitoussi

Netanyahu eulogized the late president at the funeral, calling him a "gem who decorated our capital Jerusalem."

Netanyahu described how his son Avner took part in a performance of Navon's play "Bustan Sephardi," and how Navon was deeply familiar with his father Benzion's work on the Spanish Inquisition.

Former President Shimon Peres called Navon a president of the people, not just of the country. "People loved him because he stayed steadfast in his pathAs minister of education, he was happy when eradicating illiteracy and to spread the word of Torah to those who wished."

Yoram Gaon, the famed Israeli singer, eulogized Navon at the funeral, and described how Navon was like a father to him. "He didn’t know how much I wanted to emulate his beauty, the beauty of his soul." He described how he was always excited to sit with Navon and talk with him, but now "My teacher, my mentor, Yitzhak, I cry and I mourn your passing."

Navon's family sat in the front row at the funeral, as did the prime minister, the president and their wives, and other Israeli dignitaries and influential figures.

Navon's son Erez said kaddish, the blessing for the dead, for his father beside the grave.

His wife, Miri Shafir Navon, accepted mourners, saying "It has been 20 great years together. He lived a full and good life, and I hope to comfort myself with this."

"Yitzhak Navon was not only a loved and inspirational president who knew how to inspire love in the nation, but also a poet who told of the treasures of our scattered people."

Dozens of civilians came to the president's residence in Jerusalem to pay their respects. Alongside political figures like Peres, Rivlin, former minister David Levy, and former MK Charlie Bitton, came people like Israeli actress Gila Almagor, her husband, the former director of the Habima Theater, and many other people Navon had touched over the years.

President Reuven Rivlin pays his respects to the late President Yitzhak Navon as he lays in state. Jerusalem, Nov 8, 2015Credit: Olivia Fitoussi

Chaya Harel, mother of Yuval Harel who was killed in the Lebanon War, said, "when my son was killed, I experienced incredible love from Navon." He continued to partake in her son's memorials even after the initial burial. Harel said that losing Navon was for her like losing a family member.

"He was a wonderful man and made an enormous contribution to Israel," she said.

David Levy, accompanied by his son, Deputy Minister of Housing, Jackie Levy, said: "Navon was everyone's president. He contributed unique personality that created unification and compromise between all factions of the Israeli populace: Mizrahim were proud of him, and Ashkenazim respected him."

Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting early Sunday morning that Navon is descended from the celebrated Spanish Jewry, and devoted his life to public action on behalf of the nation of Israel and the State of Israel.

Yitzhak Navon.Credit: David Bachar

"He was full of love of Israel and acted to mediate between all parts of the nationJews and non-Jews" Netanyahu eulogized. "He also worked to bridge a connection between Israel and its Arab neighbors, particularly Egypt," he said.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog offered condolences to Navon's family as well, and wrote on his Facebook page: "Yitzhak Navon was a member of the founding generation of Israel: The people who, with their own hands, established our national home, who stood next to David Ben-Gurion in moments that were most crucial for the fate of the country.

"Navon, born in Jerusalem, devoted his life to his country."

He is survived by his wife, Miri Shafir, and his two children, Naama and Erez.

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