By Atida Lipshatz, Vice President, JCCV
I purposely pen these thoughts before his funeral as I want to express my own longings – not echo those of world leaders.
The Jewish people lost a great leader this week and I join with the community at large in feeling a deep sense of sadness.
As the funeral preparations are underway, I am consumed by the interest to read so many articles and posts about this legend, and learn many facts about his life. I giggle as I rewatch delightful YouTube clips recently made, and I am inspired by many of his words, some of which I have not previously heard. I never had the privilege of meeting Shimon Peres z”l, but my profound sense of loss is greater than that of a stranger to a leader. I have spent the last few days with a very heavy heart.
There have been so many headlines this week – compacting an extraordinary man into a few words or a phrase – “True Visionary”, “Quintessential Statesman”, ”Eternal Optimist”, “The last of a great Generation.”
But only when I saw in large black font the words “Father of our Nation” did I understand my deep sense of grieving.
The people of Israel have lost more than a courageous soldier, a veteran politician and a towering statesman. We have lost a man who far beyond his long list of accomplishments, will be missed as a father –for his love, his devotion, his wisdom, and his optimism.
A good father has a consistent focus but sometimes needs to change tack to best care for the next generation.
Often strength/ strictness are required while other times negotiations/dialogue need to be introduced. Knowing how best to achieve this balance in his twilight years was the true greatness of Peres as our father.
And a father is someone who traditionally commands respect – someone revered and dignified.
More than for his military prowess, his vision in developing Israel’s nuclear program, his longstanding political career or his Nobel Peace Prize, Peres will really be sealed in our history books as a great national treasure through his years as President.
There were so many career highlights – serving as the Defence Minister at the time of the heroic Entebbe rescue, crucial economic reforms in the 1980s and 2 short stints as Prime Minister. Yet, there were also many challenging years in the Knesset, and neither he nor his politics were always universally liked.
But when Peres assumed the role of President, he transcended so many divides and truly became a legendary head of the State, endeared both locally and globally. He made the presidency into an institution of national unity and international respect.
As a leader, Peres was an achiever and an icon but as our founding father, he was also a man.
Shimon Peres was an immigrant, a poet, an innovator, a diplomat and a Snapchatter. He was a networker, a Kibbutznik, a dreamer, a builder and a believer.
He will be missed by me, by you and by all the children of our nation.
He was born into a simple family in anti-Semitic Europe and he died as one of the most distinguished citizens of a strong and vibrant Jewish homeland.
The greatest legacy for Shimon Peres will be that in the coming generation, leaders will rise worthy of being called “Peres- like”. Please God, with their direction and wisdom, the people of the Middle East will live in peace, and Israel will continue to grow and flourish, and eternally shine as a light onto the Nations.
Shalom Shimon Peres.
Shalom to our Patriarch.
The Community Memorial in honour of Shimon Peres z”l will be held on Wednesday 26 October at 8:00 pm at Beth Weizmann Community Centre.