It is with very heavy hearts that we say goodbye to such an iconic visionary. His life and all he accomplished should be celebrated. Federations have been privileged to have had a longstanding relationship with Shimon Peres, z”l. At the 2013 General Assembly in Jerusalem, he reminded us that as a people, we have always had a vision—one that derives from the way we value life. And for decades, regardless of the political climate, his message remained the same: Peace is our goal.
After the presidency, he began to think about his retirement and he asked me what he could do to help Federations. Months later he visited Federations in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Miami. His one regret, he repeated again and again, was that he did not dream big enough.
This afternoon I leave for Israel and bring with me the heartfelt condolences of our community and our Federation movement. May his memory be a blessing.
The Jewish Federations of North America Statement
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) deeply mourns the passing of Shimon Peres, z”l, universally recognized as one of Israel’s greatest leaders and one of North American Jewry’s closest Israeli friends.
A member of Israel’s founding generation, an eloquent spokesperson for his country and a strong advocate for Jewish peoplehood, Peres 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.
“Few men lived a life as Shimon Peres did and, as a generation, we’re privileged to have benefited from his inspiring dedication to the Jewish People,” said Richard Sandler, chair of JFNA’s Board of Trustees. “Peres built and nurtured a deep and unique relationship with Jews everywhere; he was a man who truly recognized and appreciated the deep bonds that bind the Jewish People across the world. We were always welcome in his home, as he was in ours. Words cannot describe our feeling of loss. It is sad and the end of an era.”
Peres was a frequent, honored guest at many of JFNA's General Assemblies, and met regularly with dozens—if not hundreds—of Federation missions across the decades, often warmly welcoming them to his home.
“Shimon Peres was North American Jewry’s greatest ally, advocate and friend in Israel,” said Jerry Silverman, JFNA president and CEO. “It has been said that Shimon Peres will be remembered along with the great leaders of Israel who fought in the War of Independence: David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin.”
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.
Jerry Silverman is president and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America