Ra’anana Meridor, matriarch of influential right-wing family, dies at 100

Mother of Likud politician Dan Meridor was born in Vienna in 1923, became a Betar activist and saw her offspring achieve positions of authority in the new Jewish state

Ra'anana Meridor, in an undated photo. (courtesy Meridor family)
Ra'anana Meridor, in an undated photo. (courtesy Meridor family)

Ra’anana Meridor, an influential former professor of Greek and classical studies at the Hebrew University, died Thursday at the age of 100.

Meridor was born in 1923 in Vienna and as a child immigrated to Mandate-era Palestine in 1935 with her family. She later joined the Betar movement, where she met her future husband, Eliyahu Meridor. They married in 1943.

Eliyahu Meridor was arrested several times by the British for his activities in the Betar underground, but was released before the 1948 War of Independence and he was able to participate as a soldier. Afterwards he became a politician, and was a Knesset member from 1959 until his untimely death in 1966.

Ra’anana Meridor lived almost her entire life in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia, where she attended high school after her family arrived from Europe.

Meridor continued her academic career and was acknowledged as one of the leading figures in her field in Israel, influencing several generations of classics scholars at the Hebrew University. She taught there for 40 years and retired in the early 1990s. One of her textbooks on classical Greek became a standard work.

The Meridor family has continued to hold influential positions in Israeli society.

Her son Dan Meridor, who has retired from politics, was an MK for many years in the Likud and was a former intelligence minister and deputy prime minister. His brother Sallai Meridor has served as chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization, and was Israeli ambassador to the US from 2005 to 2009.

She also had two daughters: Prof. Hagit Horvitz, a respected pediatrician who was the head of the children’s ward at Bikur Holim Hospital, and Dr. Avital Darmon, a biologist who has worked extensively in the educational field.

She is survived by her four children, 15 grandchildren and almost 50 great-grandchildren.

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