JERUSALEM – Sonia Peres, the wife of Israeli President Shimon Peres for 65 years, died Jan. 20. She was 87.
Born in Poland, Peres moved to what was pre-state Israel at the age of four. The mother of three children, she was described by her son-in-law, Dr. Rafi Valdan, as “”all nobility and devotion. The family members were very close to her. We would see her almost every day.”
According to Dr. Ilan Ben-Ami author of “Behind Great Men: The Private and Public Lives of Israel’s Prime Ministers’ Wives,” Peres was a gracious woman who “volunteered with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and in the seventies worked with immigrants and later with children in institutions.”
Though she was entitled to be laid to rest in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Cemetery, in a section reserved for national leaders, she chose to be buried near the Beit Shemen youth village where she met her husband. She was buried there on Friday, at a funeral attended by thousands, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Tzipi Livni and many other state dignitaries and friends.
“I loved her at first sight. She is the love of my life,” Peres said in his eulogy. And that love will remain in my heart until my eyes shall close.”