Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154
New York, NY; September 27, 2016 -- Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), released the following statement after learning of the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres:
In his final speech before the Knesset, as former Israeli President Shimon Peres ended his term in office, he said “I have come to bid you farewell as a citizen, as a man whose dream is still alive.” And indeed, not only did his dreams—and his extraordinary steadfastness, brilliance, and ingenuity—make him an integral part of the nation of Israel from its founding until today, his hope was infectious and his optimism was an inspiration.
Shimon Peres understood that the greatness of Israel lies in its embrace of our better selves, and he spent his life challenging himself and others to reach for the impossible. Often, he achieved it.
As a leader in so many critical capacities and for as many decades as Israel itself is old, Shimon Peres promoted an Israel of democracy, pluralism, and tolerance. He was a tough minded lover of peace who understood that Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood and must have the deterrence it needs, but that in the end, the best deterrence is hope for a better tomorrow, and promoting the wisdom and creativity of the Israeli people on the world stage, while also ensuring that Israel engages significantly in a global arena.
We can think of no better tribute to this great leader than to continue to seek justice and to pursue peace for all Israeli citizens. While Shimon Peres did not achieve his final dream, to give Israel the security with peace that it so deserves, his example will live on as a testament to what can be and what must be.
We send our sincere condolences to his family and to the people of Israel.
We have truly lost a giant, but we have not lost the resolve to continue to dream and to continue to strive for an Israel that lives side by side with its neighbors, in peace and with justice.
About the Union for Reform Judaism
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.
Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.
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