- Title: Israeli youth village remembers their graduate, Shimon Peres
- Date: 28th September 2016
- Summary: PHOTO OF FORMER ISRAELI PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES WITH CHILDREN, CAPTION READING IN HEBREW 'SOWING EDUCATION, REAPING ACHIEVEMENTS'
- Embargoed: 13th October 2016 14:49
- Keywords: Peres youth village Ben Shemen wife Sonya
- Location: BEN SHEMEN, ISRAEL
- City: BEN SHEMEN, ISRAEL
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00251HCJ0N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Students and educators in Israeli youth village, Ben Shemen, mourned the death of their graduate, former Israeli president and elder statesman Shimon Peres, who died in hospital on Wednesday (September 28) aged 93, two weeks after suffering a massive stroke.
Polish-born Peres, whose family moved to then British-ruled Palestine in the 1930s, joined the Ben Shemen youth village where he learned Zionist values and met his wife, Sonya.
Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion later groomed him for leadership.
The manager of the youth village, Dr. Ilana Tishler, told Reuters TV about Peres' special connection to the village, which served as a home for him.
"Mr. Peres studied in Ben Shemen from 1939 until 1941 and ever since then never left the village in his heart. He used to come here to visit, to donate and to be involved in our mission and vision. When I entered my position, 9 years ago, he invited me for a conversation and spoke about the special values, the special values of work, of friendship, of peace between the different people and the quality of education that he expects this place to lead," she said.
"He used to work here in the cowshed and even in his speech when he received the Nobel Prize, he mentioned it," she added.
The head of farming at the village, Avi Sherer, shared his sorrow about the passing of the former president.
"For the past several days we have been following Shimon's condition since his stroke. We feared this moment. This morning I got up around 4:30-5am and heard the announcement. Then I went teaching at 11:30am and it was very difficult. Some of the children even cried", he said.
Peres married Sonya at the village and the copy of their wedding invitation was still kept at the local archive.
"This is the invitation for the wedding of Shimon Peres and Sonya that was held here in Ben Shemen in the agricultural field beyond that wall," said archive manager Shuki Shukrun.
He also shared his personal memories from Peres, saying: "I remember his warm handshake and the smile that is always on his face, everywhere he went around the village."
A joint winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize and an influential figure in Israeli politics for 70 years, Peres was part of almost every major political development in Israel since its founding in 1948. He served in a dozen cabinets and was twice prime minister, though he never won a general election, struggling to connect with ordinary voters.
He was first elected to Israel's parliament in 1959 and barring a brief interlude in early 2006, held his seat for 48 years, until he became president in 2007.
Peres was hospitalised following a stroke two weeks ago and his condition had improved before a sudden deterioration on Tuesday (September 27), doctors said. In announcing his passing, family members said that he did not suffer pain, and as a last act after death, he donated his corneas for transplant.
Peres's coffin will lay in state at parliament in Jerusalem on Thursday (September 29) for the public to pay respects. His close relatives were considering whether to make a detour and stop at Ben Shemen to visit the grave of Sonya.
The funeral will take place on Friday (September 30) at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl cemetery, in a section dedicated to "Great Leaders of the Nation".
U.S. President Barack Obama, Britain's Prince Charles and former U.S. president Bill Clinton are among those expected to attend, Israeli radio reported, although Israel's Foreign Ministry could not immediately confirm the attendance list.
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