Jacksonville Jewish community reflects on fond memories of Shimon Peres, following his passing


By Jewish Federation of Jacksonville


On Sept. 28th, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres died at the age of 93. He was one of the most influential and eloquent leaders the Jewish state has ever known. In addition to serving as Prime Minister during three different occasions Peres was the immediate past President of Israel and he devoted these last years of his life to his belief that his country could be a world leader in prosperity and peace.


The eighth Prime Minister of Israel was born in 1923 and raised in a small town outside of Minsk, moving to Israel in 1934 and eventually played a major role in the founding of the Jewish State. In the early years of Israel’s statehood, Peres led the country toward becoming a military force. In his later years, he was a champion for peace, as the founder of the Peres Institute for Peace.


Below are some memories and thoughts from those in the Jacksonville Jewish community, who’s lives the beloved politician touched in some way, shape or form.


“Prime Minister Peres visited the Jacksonville Jewish community on two occasions in the 1990’s. He also graciously met with us in Israel on one of our missions.  When writing of Peres, I think of a man who, with passion, humor, intelligence and dignity was one of the most influential and eloquent leaders of our time. His life was so much so a blessing to the world and may his memory be a blessing as well.”
–Alan Margolies
Federation Executive Director


”Growing up in Israel, I always looked up to Peres as a live evidence of our history, values and accomplishments. He was there ever since my grandparents arrived to what was soon to become the state of Israel. He was there when my parents were born and grew up to become the Israeli citizens. He was also there as I grew older and searched for paths to influence the society that I lived in. I truly felt, as many others did, that Peres will always be there to guide us with his wisdom, belief and optimism. Israel has lost one of her founding fathers, our grandfather, a dreamer, a mentor, our tribe's leader. May Peres' vision of peace, coexistence and a brighter future enlighten us and guide our way. May his devotion and love for Israel penetrate into our hearts. May this great, wise and astounding man rest in peace forever."
– Dana Marmari
Community Shlicha


“The First time I met Shimon Peres was when he was the Scholar in Residence on a Mission to Belarus in the late '80's. We visited Vishneyev, the small shtetl where he was born and saw the synagogue where his grandfather officiated as the rabbi. He also took us to see the old Jewish cemetery. In 1997, Peres came to Jacksonville for a Federation campaign opening event at the Jacksonville Jewish Center. During Peres's visit, I was privileged to have lunch with him. Peres was a brilliant speaker as he never used notes or a teleprompter. As President of Israel and as Prime Minister, he was a featured speaker at Federation General Assemblies as well as at Jewish Agency Assemblies and Board Meetings. No matter how many times I heard him I was always impressed by his ability to understand so many varied aspects of modern life including business trends and scientific innovation. Although, in Israel, he was criticized for some of the decisions he made, Shimon Peres was a man who constantly worked during his lifetime for peace. Although he never lived to see that dream become a reality, he will always be a hero to me. May he rest in peace.” 

– Joan Levin
Past Federation President


Shimon Peres was laid to rest Sept. 30th at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem and his funeral was well attended by numerous prominent dignitaries from Israel and abroad, including U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.