Pale and Thin, 74-year-old Begin Prays at Wife’s Grave
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Pale and Thin, 74-year-old Begin Prays at Wife’s Grave

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Former Premier Menachem Begin made a rare public appearance Friday — at the Mount of Olives cemetery to recite “Kaddish” at the grave of his wife Aliza on the fifth anniversary of her death.

Begin, 74, looking pale and thin, walked to the grave on the arms of his daughters Hassia and Leah. He was joined by his son, Binyamin Zeev Begin. He stood unsupported during the 25-minute memorial service, then departed with silent nods at the many well-wishers present. He engaged in no conversations.

Until his sudden retirement in 1983, Begin was the fiery leader of the Herut Party who was relegated to the fringes of Israeli polities until his Likud bloc won the national election in 1977, ending 30 years of Labor Party rule. Even in 1983, he was still grieving deeply for his wife, and was said to be bitterly disillusioned over the Lebanon war.

Since then, Begin has lived as a semi-recluse in his home in the Yefe Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. He leaves his residence only for the annual memorial service for his wife or to take treatment at a hospital.


Although reportedly in poor health, he reads avidly and listens to the radio, according to his longtime aide and confidant, Yehial Kadishai, who visits Begin daily. Kadishai says the former premier keeps himself abreast of current affairs.

However, Begin declined to be interviewed by the army radio this month on the 10th anniversary of the historic visit to Jerusalem by the late President Anwar Sadat of Egypt.

That visit culminated in the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which both leaders signed in Washington in March 1979. For that accomplishment, Begin and Sadat shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

There will be no Daily News Bulletin dated Thursday, November 26, because of the Thanksgiving Day postal holiday.

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