Late President Chaim and Aura Herzog, parents of current President Isaac Herzog, at the Great Wall of China during an official visit in 1992. (Yaacov Sa'ar/GPO) (Yaacov Sa'ar/GPO)
Chaim and Aura Herzog

Herzog, the mother of President Isaac Herzog and wife of late President Chaim Herzog, is remembered for a life of public service and activism.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

Aura Herzog, mother of President Isaac Herzog, died on Monday at the age of 97.

She served as Israel’s First Lady during Chaim Herzog’s presidency from 1983 to 1993. Her son, Isaac, is Israel’s current president. Another son, Michael, is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

Mrs. Herzog’s sister, Suzy, was married to Abba Eban, Israel’s former top diplomat. She passed away in 2011.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recalled Mrs. Herzog as “a public figure and social activist who loved her people and country. She lived humbly and raised a family to be proud of, while constantly working for the public and Israeli society.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides eulogized Mrs. Herzog on Twitter, calling her “a tireless social activist and public servant in Israel, and a beloved wife, mother, and friend of the United States.”

The Herzogs were well-regarded in the U.S. when Chaim served as a military attache and later as ambassador to the United Nations. He died in 1997.

Aura (nee Ambash) was born in Egypt after the Turks expelled her parents from Jaffa during World War I. She grew up in Ismailiya and Cairo before obtaining a B.A. in math and physics at South Africa’s Witwatersrand University.

She moved to pre-state Israel in 1946 and joined the Haganah, the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces. She graduated from the Jewish Agency’s first course for diplomatic cadets, then married Chaim Herzog in 1947. During Israel’s War of Independence, Mrs. Herzog worked as an intelligence officer and then in the Science Corps.

Mrs. Herzog was involved in public service ever since. She Herzog founded the Bible Quiz, which is held every year on Israel’s Independence Day. She also founded Israel’s first environmental NGO, the Council for a Beautiful Israel in 1968, and was an active leader in the organization for 38 years.

Other endeavors included serving as head of the Education Ministry’s department of culture for eight years; an active advisory board member of Mifal Hapayis, a national lottery that provides funds for schools, community and cultural centers and sports arenas; and leading the first “Keeping Israel Clean” campaign in 1988. She even wrote a book on hospitality and etiquette to raise awareness among Israelis about the cultural differences of Jewish immigrants.

Mrs. Herzog is said to be responsible for Isaac Herzog’s nickname, “Bougie.”

Aura Herzog is survived by four children and numerous grandchildren. She will buried beside her husband at the Mt. Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem.

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