Today, the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley deeply mourns the passing of a great leader and a great statesman, Shimon Peres, z"l.
His life is intertwined with modern Jewish history and the founding and building of the great State of Israel. He was a warrior for peace and a visionary for an Israel propelled by science, technology and a culture of turning hope into promises.
Peres was the last of Israel's living political leaders who had been involved in the founding of the Jewish state. He was both a pragmatist and unwaveringly optimistic that Israel would reach peace with its neighbors. He dedicated his life to that pursuit, having held nearly every cabinet position during his storied career, serving twice as prime minister and once as president.
He had an air of grace about him, never forgot his humble beginnings in Poland and believed in dreaming big.
"I had the great honor to travel with Shimon Peres to his ancestral home, now in Belarus, about 18 years ago with a small group of colleagues and Jewish community leaders. It was inspiring to spend time speaking with him over meals and learning his personal story in such a powerful way," said Mark L. Goldstein, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. "Peres once said that 'optimists and pessimists die the exact same death, but they live very different lives!' Thank you, Shimon Peres, for filling our lives with optimism and hope."
"He's the last of the old school that we have lost. He was a wonderful man," said Nate Braunstein, past president of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley and former UJA national vice chairman. "When I was active in UJA, we spent an evening at a bar just talking about Israel and the Jews and I'm just very saddened that we lost one of the giants of Israel."
May the memory of Shimon Peres be a blessing, and may his children Dr. Tsvia Walden, Yoni Peres and Nechemia Peres; eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem