My dear Chaverim, Shalom.

In these hours, when Israel pays its last tribute to Shimon Peres z”l, a man who had been part of our lives for as long as we can remember, my thoughts take me to Biblical Joshua, Moses’ successor, whose life embodied the values and aspirations of his master.

Similarly, Shimon Peres derived tremendous faith in the calling of the State of Israel from David Ben Gurion, and became a wellspring of shimon-peres-and-chaiminspiration, coupled with unequaled pragmatism, for Israel and beyond.

Shimon Peres, like many of the children that our villages serve, came to Israel at an early age. His personality, values, and world view were molded in a youth village.

When visiting us at Yemin Orde, Mr. Peres exclaimed: “There is no place like Yemin Orde anywhere in the world – no place! I pray that the whole world will become like Yemin Orde.” To us, these words reflected his joy that the Israeli youth village is still effectively impacting today’s youth. One could tell that Mr. Peres was indeed elated to see that the original youth village philosophy and method, laid out by its founding mothers and fathers, continues to thrive in the 21st century.

Shimon Peres told me about his days at Ben Shemen youth village, where he was raised, and where he met his first and only love, Sonia. We spoke about Dr. Siegfried Lehmann, the village’s founder, and his amazing philosophy and deeds. He was taken by the fact that Dr. Lehmann’s partner and successor, Arieh Simon, has been my role model and personal guide.

Shimon Peres’ legacy

Today, people wonder how will Peres’ heritage live on. Together with you, our friends, we can say with confidence that when it comes to education, this is just where we are: by making sure that thousands of adolescents throughout Israel are raised in upright, broad-minded, humane and inclusive educational environments. We definitely breathe life in the heritage of this great man. For our youth are the future, the bright future that Shimon Peres had envisioned for Israel.

May this be a year of good tidings.
Yours, B’Ahava,

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Chaim Peri
Founder, Village Way Educational Initiatives

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