Although there is so much more to say, I want to post an immediate reaction to the death of Shimon Peres Z”L
Shimon Peres was a man of principles. He was completely dedicated to his nation and sought to insure that Israel always lived by its principles and its values. He was dedicated to seeing an end to conflict and sought to make true peace.
I had the opportunity to hear him speak on more than one occasion and was impressed as all were with his wisdom and his strength.
But, there was one other thing about Shimon Peres that I always thought whenever I saw him. He just happened to look almost exactly like our next door neighbor when I was a kid.
That may not seem important and, of course it isn’t. But it is important in a symbolic way.
When I think of Shimon Peres, I immediately think of Yitzchak Rabin Z”L and of that glorious day so full of potential and promise when they stood on the White House Lawn with Yassir Arafat and President Clinton to sign the Oslo Accords. To see Rabin and Peres standing there gave me not only a sense of pride but a sense of identification. These two leaders (and in another era, I would include Golda Meir Z”L in this same thought) represented the possibility of an emotional, deep connection for Jews throughout the world and Israel. They looked like our neighbors. They were our association with the State..
Policies aside, I don’t have that feeling about Israel’s current leadership and that is a loss for all of us who yearn for deep connections with Israel.
Leadership not only means standing “above” the people but being one of the people, being a person people can look to with trust and in partnership. To me, that is the essence of leadership and one which Shimon Peres emulated throughout his life.
May his memory be for a blessing.