Last night, Israel, World Jewry and the entire world lost a giant of moral leadership and peaceful coexistence, as former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres passed away at the age of 93 after suffering a stroke two weeks ago.
President Peres was one of the founding leaders of the State of Israel and worked tirelessly to ensure that the fledgling state that was reborn after 2,000 years would be a permanent addition to the region. He was often seen as David Ben-Gurion’s right hand man, was a primary builder of the defense ministry and held several important positions in the government before becoming Prime Minister in 1984. In the early 1990’s, he, along with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, worked tirelessly towards peaceful co-existence with Israel’s Palestinian neighbors as part of the Oslo process, netting him a much-deserved Nobel Peace Prize. In his later years, he served as President and was a primary uniting force for a country that still faces threats, both external and internal.
President Peres was a giant of sage wisdom, and one of his most famous quotes was, “The most important thing in life is to dare. The most complicated thing in life is to be afraid. The smartest thing in the world is to try to be a moral person.”
President Peres will be honored by heads of state from around the world who will come to Israel to pay their final respects, a measure of the esteem that he held worldwide. He will then be buried on Mt. Herzl, the final resting place for many of Israel’s founders and heroes. The Jewish Community of Louisville joins Israel and those who pursue peace around the world an honoring and remembering Shimon Peres. May his memory be a blessing now and forever.