Mourning a Statesman, Peacemaker, and Legend | Reconstructing Judaism

Mourning a Statesman, Peacemaker, and Legend

News

Logos of RRC and RRA

 

Shimon Peres

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Jewish Reconstructionist Communities and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association mourn the loss of Shimon Peres, z’l, who passed away near Tel Aviv on Tuesday after recently suffering a stroke. Shimon Peres was one of the most important and influential founders and shapers of the State of Israel. An early military leader and defense strategist in the young state, in later years Peres built a political career that advocated strongly for peace between Israel and all of its neighbors. After playing a crucial role in the peace agreements Israel made with the PLO and with Jordan in the 1990s, Peres devoted boundless energy towards a dream of a new Middle East, based on foundations of peace, political and territorial compromise, cultural and technological cooperation, and regional strategies for improving education, health, and infrastructure. The Peres Center for Peace, which he founded in 1996, will carry on his deep commitment to the pursuit of peace through diplomatic, social, economic, and cultural ties with Palestinians and with the other peoples of the Middle East.

Peres arrived with his family in British Mandate Palestine in 1934, at age 11. In his youth he helped found Kibbutz Alumot. At age 20, he became Secretary of the Labor-Zionist Youth Movement. At 24, in 1947, David Ben-Gurion tapped him to be responsible for military personnel and arms for the Haganah. Soon after he served as head of Israel’s Navy, and then as Director General of the Defense Ministry, all before turning 30.

In 1959 he won election to the Knesset and held a seat there until 2007. He is the only person to have served as both Israel’s Prime Minister and as its President. During the second Rabin administration, Peres initiated and conducted the negotiations that led to the 1993 Olso Agreement between Israel and the PLO. He received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, in 1994. After leading a unity government in the 1980s, he served a second term as Prime Minister after Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995. In 2007 he was elected Israel’s 9th president by the Knesset, and in 2012 President Barack Obama awarded Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest American civilian honor offered to people for their work for world peace.  

Beyond his remarkable achievements, Shimon Peres was an important part of Israel’s identity, and a spokesman for its best aspirations, for as long as anyone with ties to Israel can remember. His loss will be felt powerfully throughout Israel, the Middle East, and the world. His dream of a more peaceful, just, interconnected, and cooperative Middle East will continue to inspire the Jewish people and seekers of peace throughout the world. We add our condolences to everyone mourning his loss in Israel and everywhere, and we offer prayers for comfort to his family. May his memory be a blessing, and may his vision inspire us to continue the work for co-existence, humanity, and peace.

Image:
By Copyright World Economic Forum, swiss-image.ch /Photo by Remy Steinegger - originally posted to Flickr as Shimon Peres, Yasser Arafat - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2001, CC BY-SA 2.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4486615

Public Statements, Israel

Related Resources

News and Blogs

Remembering How To Listen: A Reconstructionist Trip to Israel

Jennifer Ferentz recently returned from the first-ever Reconstructionist Birthright trip to Israel. She reflects on her experiences. 

News

Pregnant in Israel

During her first pregnancy, Rabbi Amy Klein shared this reflection on the experience of pregnancy in Israel.

Article
News and Blogs

The First Reconstructionist Birthright Journey

A participant on the first Reconstructionist Birthright trip reflects on her journey.

News

Lekh Lekha and the Promised Land: Text Study

This text study, prepared by Rabbi Nina Mandel, contains pairs of passages examining biblical and contemporary notions of what “Promised Land” means, and how it has been interpreted by Jewish thinkers over the millennia.

Document

A Zionism Worth Reconstructing

Klein examines how experiencing the contradictions of Israeli life can help young North American Jews feel connected to Israel.

Article

Where Next?

This 2004 report of the movement’s Israel Policies Task Force emerged from a movement-wide process that solicited thoughtful input from Reconstructionists across the country. While much has changed over the past decade-plus, most of this earlier report’s framework and recommendations are still compelling and sound.

Article

Values, Middle East Politics and the Future of Israel

Robert Prybutok critiques an idealistic approach to Israel's negotiations with its neighbors, and argues for tough-minded pragmatism in the service of ideals.

Article

Finding a New Narrative

Rabbi Toba Spitzer describes two competing narrative frames about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the need for new thinking to transcend them. 

Article

On Occupied Ground

Rabbi Rebecca Lillian reflects on the moral hazard posed by Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

Article

A History of Reconstructionist Zionism

Rabbi David Teutsch reviews an 80-year span of Reconstructionist approaches to Zionism and the State of Israel.

Article

Herzl Play, Monologue and Activities (Grades 4-7)

A play and activities on the life and values of Zionist pioneer Theodor Herzl

Document

Parsing the Meeting of Jacob and Esau

Text study and discussion questions on the reunion of Jacob and Esau after decades of separation

Article

Next Year in Jerusalem?

A resource for exploring values and commitments around Israel, seen through the lens of the phrase “Next year in Jerusalem” at the close of the Passover seder

Article

A Version of Israel's Secular Shabbat -- Via a Song

The upbeat, jazzy Israeli song Shabbat Ba’boker  is a Shabbat song with no reference to ritual or practice. But in a way that only an Israeli song can express, it communicates a deep sense of how joyous the Sabbath can be.

Article

A Guide to Talking about Israel in your Congregation

Rabbi Toba Spitzer shares detailed guidelines and best practices on communal discussions around Israel.

Article