The Office of the President of Israel announced with great sorrow on Monday that Aura Herzog, mother of President Isaac Herzog and wife of the late Sixth President, Chaim Herzog, passed away overnight at her home at age 97.
She was born in Egypt to an Ashkenazi family of Russian and Polish descent that came to Egypt from Jaffa. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. After graduating in 1946, she made aliyah to Eretz Israel and was selected to participate in the first class of the Diplomatic School established by the Jewish Agency – while serving in the Hagana underground. In 1947, she married Chaim Herzog, the son of Israel’s Chief Rabbi, and since then accompanied him in his roles in the IDF and public life. She was injured in a terrorist attack during the War of Independence while serving as an IDF Intelligence officer.
Aura and Chaim Herzog had four children, eleven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
In 1950-1954 and 1975-1978, the Herzog family were in the United States, where Chaim served as the military attaché at the embassy and later as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations. Aura Herzog’s life’s work was the establishment and leadership of the Council for a Beautiful Israel, the first environmental organization in Israel, which she led for forty years in a volunteer capacity.
In 1983-1993, Chaim Herzog served as the Sixth President of Israel, and Aura continued to fulfill many public roles as the first lady. When Israel celebrated forty years of independence, she headed the “Israel Wears Clean” campaign.
After the death of her husband in 1997, she founded and headed the Chaim Herzog Foundation to commemorate his work and legacy.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett eulogized Aura Herzog, saying, “Together with the entire people of Israel, I received with sorrow the news of the passing of Aura Herzog, mother of President Isaac Herzog and wife of the late President Chaim Herzog. Aura was a public figure and socially active woman who loved her people and her country. She lived modestly and raised a wonderful family while being constantly active on behalf of the public and society in Israel.
My deepest condolences go out to President Herzog and the entire Herzog family. May her memory be blessed.”
President Herzog successor as chair of the Labor party, Minister Merav Michaeli, said on Monday: “My dear friend President Isaac Herzog, I send sympathies and condolences to you and your family on the passing of your mother Aura. Aura was a formidable personality and her extraordinary life story was one of great activity and giving, one that made an enduring and significant contribution to the character of the State of Israel, its culture, and its beauty. The originality and vision of creating the World Bible Quiz and the Council for a Beautiful Israel are the jewels in the crown of her great endeavors for this country.
One only needs to see the heights you and your family have attained to understand what support and strength she gave you. With you, Michal, and your entire family at this difficult time. May her memory be a blessing.”