Oakville Remembers: Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres
Oakville Remembers: Shimon Peres

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Stephen Wise

Stephen Wise

Rabbi Wise has focused much of his rabbinate in striving passionately to connect Jews of all ages to their Judaism. Whether its through prayer services, learning or social action, each presents a gateway to stronger Jewish identity. Rabbi Wise has worked recently developing programming for young adults in their 20-30's, starting ongoing successful groups in NYC and Florida, reigniting their connections to Judaism. Rabbi Wise is the spiritual leader for Oakville's Jewish community, and his congregation is Shaarei Beth-El on Morrison Road.

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Today, we are remembering one of Israel’s most important leaders, Shimon Peres, who was 93. He was a firsthand witness and often a participant in every moment in Israel’s history.

Peres was born in what was then Poland and what is now Belarus in 1923, but his family moved to Palestine, then under British control, in 1932. Peres married his wife Sonya in 1945, and were parents to two sons and a daughter.

In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces. While serving at Haganah headquarters that year, he met David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first prime minister, and Levi Eshkol, who would be the third. Peres became head of naval services in 1948, the year of the War of Independence.

One of the country’s most admired leaders, Peres first became a member of Israel’s parliament in 1959. He held virtually every senior political office in Israel over his seven-decade career, including three terms as prime minister, as well as stints as foreign minister and finance minister.

He is credited with leading the country through some of its most defining moments, from creating its nuclear arsenal in the 1950s, to disentangling its troops from Lebanon and rescuing its economy from triple-digit inflation in the 1980s, to guiding a skeptical nation into peace talks with the Palestinians in the 1990s for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He has written 10 books on peace in the middle east.

Current Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said that Peres “never stopped trying to reach to peace and believing in peace. His hand was always extended to a historic compromise with our neighbors, and even if this compromise tarried, he taught us never to give in to despair, but to cling to hope.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Prince Charles and the Pope are among the dignitaries expected to attend.

We mourn him today. “He was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together.” May his name always be remembered as a blessing.

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