President Shimon Peres's wife Sonya was laid to rest in the Beit Shemen Youth Village Friday. Peres passed away in her Tel Aviv home on Thursday at the age of 87.
Thousands attended the funeral, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen as well as many ministers, MKs, and senior officials.
President Peres described his first encounter with Sonya as "love at first sight" and said: "This love will remain in my heart until my eyes close."
Sonya was a modest person who volunteered for may causes, he said. "She loved Israel, loved the people. Most of her work she did secretly. She mopped floors in children's institutions. She never wanted to be on the board of directors. She preferred the floor over the ceiling," he said.
The president said he spent 73 years with Sonya, through ups and downs. "To me she was everything a person should be. Kind, modest, sensitive. Blessed be her memory."
Peres's son, Yonatan said: "Like a lioness you protected the family, despite the difficulties and father's continuous absence from home. You raised a model family. Despite it all you chose to remain in the shadows."
"It was love at first sight.' Peres at the funeral (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
He also addressed rumors of the family. "You were unaffected. Few really knew you. You helped many. It was for your support that father succeeded in his major tasks. All this, not in the limelight, but in hiding, without any expectation for reward. All were equal in your eyes. The drivers and security guards called you their second mother. Dear mother, you were a true righteous woman."
Shiva will be held in Sonya's house in Ramat Aviv and the president will also open the President's Residence in the evening hours.
Yair Altman contributed to this report
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