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Fed head Swartz’ moving eulogy to Shimon Peres

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In a moving eulogy to Shimon Peres at King David School in Linksfield, Johannesburg last week Thursday, the SA Zionist Federation’s national chairman Ben Swartz didn’t leave a dry eye in the house. Similar events were held the same evening in Cape Town and Durban. Swartz signed off by saying, sombrely, “Shalom Shimon, shalom chaver (friend)”.
by ANT KATZ | Oct 04, 2016

Among the distinguished guests were many rabbis, Israel’s Deputy Ambassador Ayelet Black, Tokyo Sexwale, and Prince Dlamini of the Swazi Royal Household.

It was surreal, said Swartz, that “just seven months ago, almost to the day”, SA Jewry had “hosted and paid tribute to Shimon Peres”, he said.

“For many of us it was a life’s dream to be able to see and hear him – and he honoured our community with all his humility with his presence.”

Swartz Ben Peres1Despite Peres’ “relatively fragile state”, and the fact that he was fully aware of the possible political implications of him travelling to South Africa, said Swartz, Peres had “made it known that it was his responsibility to travel to South Africa to be with us and to strengthen and encourage us – those were his very words when he spoke in Johannesburg.”


RIGHT: Ben Swartz delivers his eulogy

Any ordinary human being at his age, said Swartz, would have certainly chosen not to make the trip – but this decision to travel, “represented the very essence of the man”.

Up until the very end - no matter what the challenges or obstructions - he was resolute in his duties, and he made it his duty to be of service to those Jews who needed him most, and he did that unflinchingly for the last 70 years of his life, said Swartz of the last of the founders of the State of Israel.

“Shimon Peres was and will forever remain an icon and ultimate example of what it is to be Jewish and to be an Israeli – on the one hand to ensure that the safety, security and wellbeing of each and every Jew in Israel and beyond is attended to, yet at the same to never cease in dialogue and engagement in the most serious pursuit of peace.” Ironically, said Swartz, Peres did not leave people needing to eulogise him in death. “His words, his spirit and presence is still so fresh and real among us here…” Having heard his clarity of mind and vision had left South African Jewry with a clear path forward."

Peres’ death, said Swartz, will not leave a void. “For his message remains eternal in that no matter how impossible a situation may be, no matter how difficult the pain of loss and conflict - humankind can never lose hope in the belief that there is a better world where peace and humanity can prevail over war and pain,” he said. Where the hope for ‘tikkun olam’ can and should be a dream and an aspiration for all.

16 Peres bigYet, said Swartz, at the same time Israel and Jews could never ever soften the grasp on safety and security for the Jewish people in their homeland.


CLICK HERE to find all related reads on Peres' passing on JR Online



Shimon Peres was a man who broke boundaries, “represented Israel and humanity all at once”. His stature, said the SAZF chairman, holds him standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our beloved Madiba.

Swartz referred to Peres’ direct involvement in the creation of the peace accords between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan, for which he became a Nobel Peace laureate, “remain testimony to his being”.

 Swartz told the crowd that even in South Africa “we see the stature of Peres, even in his death breaking all boundaries, as the Deputy Minister for International Relations flies to Israel this evening to be present at his funeral, on Mount Herzl, in Jerusalem – the eternal capital of Israel and alongside the graves of the founding fathers of modern day Israel.”

He also referred to a statement of condolence by the government of South Africa on Wednesday which he called an “unprecedented act”, and he read the statement.

Swartz concluded his eulogy by saying that SA Jewry, “together with our many millions of friends” in the country, “send our deepest condolences to Shimon Peres’ family and all Israel as we jointly reminisce and mourn the loss of one of the greatest leaders in Jewish history.”

He signed off by saying:“Shalom Shimon, shalom chaver (friend)”.

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