Miriam Peretz, born on April 10, 1954 (7th of Nisan, 5714), is an Israeli educator and mother of two sons, both officers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), who tragically lost their lives in the line of duty. Since then, she has been a lecturer, sharing her experiences with youth and IDF soldiers. She was awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2018 for her work in strengthening Jewish-Israeli identity and kindled a torch at the Mount Herzl ceremony in 2014.
Miriam Peretz was born and raised in the Jewish community of Casablanca, Morocco, the daughter of Ito and Yaakov Ochayon. She attended a school affiliated with the Alliance network. In 1964, she immigrated to Israel and settled in the Ma'abarot transit camp near Be'er Sheva.
In 1970, her parents moved to neighborhood D in Be'er Sheva, where she completed her bachelor's degree in literature and history at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev.
In the mid-70s, she married Eliezer Peretz. After their wedding, they moved to Ofira, where her husband worked as a supervisor at the Ministry of Health, and she focused on education and teaching. In Ofira, their two eldest sons, Uriel and Eliraz, were born. The couple later had two more sons and two daughters.
In 1982, following the peace agreement with Egypt, the Peretz family, along with all the Sinai settlers, evacuated their homes. They moved to Giv'on and later to Giv'at Ze'ev, where they still reside today. In Giv'at Ze'ev, Miriam and Eliezer had four more children: Hadass, Avichai, Elisef, and Bat-El. She served as the head of the Tali school in Giv'at Ze'ev for about 22 years. Peretz also served as a supervisor in the Society and Youth Administration of the Jerusalem district of the Ministry of Education.
Peretz tragically lost two of her sons, Uriel and Eliraz, while they were serving in the IDF. On November 25, 1998, her eldest son, Lieutenant Uriel Peretz, 22 years old and the commander of the Reconnaissance Unit in Golani Brigade's 51st Battalion, was killed in an ambush in the Maraka region of southern Lebanon. Her husband, Eliezer Peretz, passed away approximately five years later at the age of 56, after battling a severe illness that developed following the death of their firstborn, Uriel. On March 26, 2010, her second son, Captain Eliraz Peretz, was killed in an encounter with terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
In the aftermath of her son Uriel's death, who was killed by a mortar shell explosion, she met with engineer Yisrael Adlerzon, who developed a special mechanism that prevents an exploded mortar shell from detonating if it is hit by gunfire or fragments.
Following the loss of her two sons, Miriam Peretz dedicated her life to preserving the Jewish and Zionist heritage. She lectured in front of Jewish communities in Israel and around the world, as well as in front of youth and IDF soldiers. At the peak of her activities, which began after the death of her first son and were carried out voluntarily, she met with thousands of soldiers each week and received thousands of letters, many of them from grieving mothers. She also organized meetings with terrorism victims and was sometimes referred to in the media as "Mother of the Sons."
In 2011, S'madar Shir published the book "Miriam's Song," which tells the life story of Miriam Peretz. With the sale of the 40,000th copy, the book received the "Platinum Book" award from the Association of Israeli Publishers. In the same year, upon her retirement from teaching, she received the "Educational Excellence" award from the Religious Teachers Organization. She was also honored at the official farewell ceremony held with the retirement of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi at Tel Aviv University.
In late 2014, it was revealed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had offered her a spot on the Likud party's list for the 20th Knesset elections, but she declined the offer.
In 2019, a hall named "Shabbat Achim" (Brothers' Shabbat) was inaugurated in Giv'at Ze'ev, dedicated to the memory of her two sons. The hall was built to accommodate the participants in her lectures.
On May 19, 2021, Miriam Peretz announced her candidacy for the position of President of the State of Israel, with the support of eleven Knesset members. In the elections held on June 2, Peretz received 26 Knesset members' votes but ultimately lost to Isaac Herzog, who received 87 votes.
Connection with the Jewish Diaspora
As part of her efforts to strengthen ties with Jewish communities worldwide, Peretz was sent on a mission by the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael), and the World Zionist Organization, to meet with communities in more than 15 countries in North America, South America, Africa, and Europe.
She met with Israeli ambassadors, Jewish schools, youth movements, Jewish communities, Christian organizations, and congregations. She also mediated meetings between Miriam Adelson and heads of organizations and communities in the United States, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and Deputy U.S. President Mike Pence.
At the request of President Shimon Peres, she accompanied him on a visit to Moscow, where they met with veterans of World War II. Later, she was invited to participate in a forum of Israeli leaders, and she met with Barack Obama, the President of the United States.
In 2003, she was awarded the "Giniger Prize for Excellence in School Management" by the TALI Educational Fund.
In 2010, she received the Beguin Award from the Menachem Begin Heritage Center for being "a symbol of dedication and closeness" and for working "for the sake of understanding for the sake of the State of Israel."
In 2014, Peretz was selected to light a torch on Israel's 66th Independence Day.
On June 7, 2016, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bar-Ilan University.
In December 2017, she received the President's Award for Contribution and Volunteering for Building an Exemplary Society in Israel from the Society and Youth Administration of the Ministry of Education, where she worked as a supervisor.
In April 2018, on Israel's 70th Independence Day, Peretz was awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement for "strengthening the Jewish-Israeli spirit." During the award ceremony, she spoke on behalf of the recipients and received widespread positive public reactions. Some even called for her to be the next President of the State of Israel, and Minister of Education Naftali Bennett instructed schools to teach her speech to students.
In 2018, she received the Paul Harris Award from the Rotary Club of Israel.
In 2020, she was chosen as the fifth most influential figure in the religious-nationalist public in Israel by "Makor Rishon" newspaper, after Yossi Cohen, Avichai Mandelblit, Meir Ben Shabbat, and Amichai Segal, as "a woman who works daily to make Israel a better place for all its citizens."
On June 24, 2021, she received an honorary doctorate from the Shalem Academic Center.
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