A reception at the presidential residence on 30 November will have personal significance for Israel’s new President, Isaac Herzog. His mother Aura was a refugee from Egypt.
This year, Israel President Isaac Herzog will mark 30th November, the date designated to commemorate the exodus of 850,000 Jews from Arab lands and Iran with a reception, live-streamed to a global audience and hosted jointly with Merav Cohen, minister for Social Equality, at the President’s residence in Jerusalem. After the formalities, organisations representing the different communities have been invited to join him for a tour of the residence, which was home to the President when his father Chaim Herzog was himself President.
The commemoration has a personal significance for President Isaac Herzog, as his mother Aura (nee Ambache) was a Jew from Egypt, born in Ismailia. Her sister Suzy married the great diplomat Abba Eban. The President has often mentioned that his mother’s family had fled Egypt in 1948, leaving all their possessions behind.
The Ambache family was among 11,000 Ashkenazi Jews driven out from Palestine during World War I by the Ottoman Turks, mostly because they were identified with the Turkish enemy Russia. The Palestinian Jews found refuge in Egypt. They were helped to resettle by the local Sephardi community. They joined other Ashkenazi refugees fleeing the Tsarist pogroms at the turn of the 20th century. Egypt was the only Arab country to host a Jewish community composed of both Sephardim and Ashkenazim.