JNFuture Israel Pays Last Respects to Zionist Visionary Shimon Peres (z''l)
October 10, 2016
Adam H. Brill, Director of Communications
JNF WIRE: JNFuture Israel Pays Last Respects
to Zionist Visionary Shimon Peres (z’’l)
By: Yocheved Kolchin
The casket of Shimon Peres, Israel's former president and prime minister, lays in state at the Knesset on September 29.
The passing of Israel’s beloved former prime minister and president Shimon Peres on September 28 marked the end of an era that defines the modern-day Jewish State. The loss of this pivotal figure was evident as thousands of Israelis lined up to bid farewell at the Zionist pioneer’s casket—which lay in state at the Knesset on September 29—and pay their last respects. Among them stood a group of 25 members of JNFuture Israel, the Tel Aviv-based chapter of Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) affinity group for young professions, including olim [new immigrants] from around the globe, who came to show their gratitude and appreciation for one of Israel’s last founding fathers.
“I came here tonight because this is an opportunity to be part of something historic,” said Wendy Chernicki, who recently made aliyah from Argentina. “This is something I can tell my grandchildren about.” In 2015, she had an opportunity to meet Peres and described the elder statesman as a person with boundless energy and a big smile who was devoted to his country.
“Peres built this country from the very beginning. He was one of Israel’s very first leaders,” said Chernicki. She added: “As members of JNFuture, we recognize that one of JNF’s goals is to build Israel’s leaders of tomorrow, and that’s why it is so important for us to be here tonight and to honor the contributions of those who came before us.”
“Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin were my idols growing up,” said Dalia Levine, who made aliyah from Pennsylvania several years ago and became involved in JNFuture this past summer. “Without them I wouldn’t be standing here today. I think Peres remains a role model for Israel and the world.”
Conversation slowed and the group grew quiet as they approached Peres’s casket at the Knesset plaza. The group took photos on their mobile phones as they were ushered past the scene by police officers tasked with ensuring that all visitors had a chance to pay their respects. The setup was carefully planned and organized, from the distribution of water bottles at the Knesset entrance to the shuttle system arranged to transport visitors to and from the site. Rows of wreaths, many sent by foreign dignitaries and heads of state, lay along the Israeli flags that lined the way to the casket and its foot.
“The entire world is mourning with us,” said Levine. “World leaders, including President Barack Obama, are flying in for the funeral and even the flags in the U.S. have been ordered to fly at half-mast in Peres’s honor. Mahmoud Abbas will also attend the funeral,” she added, noting that the Palestinian Authority president’s attendance signified the respect Peres had earned from leaders in the Arab world.
Indeed, although Peres’s politics were not always without controversy, his commitment to achieving peace was universally respected and admired. Members from Israel’s vibrant political spectrum turned out to pay their last respects. Chernicki commented on Peres’s unique ability to unite all groups, pointing out the presence of Ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews among secular Israelis at the event. “We all need peace—with the Palestinians, yes, but also with each other. It is now time for us to continue Peres’s legacy by working to create peace between the different sectors of Israeli society.”
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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.
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