Photo courtesy: TIME

On Building a Better Future

One constant in Peres’ life was that he sought a better future for the next generation. Whether that be in his pursuit of Israel’s strength, as an advocate for peace, or for economic prosperity, he held tightly to a vision for a better tomorrow.

“Sometimes people ask me, ‘What is the greatest achievement you have reached in your lifetime or that you will reach in the future?’ So I reply that there was a great painter named Mordecai Ardon, who was asked which picture was the most beautiful he had ever painted. Ardon replied, ‘The picture I will paint tomorrow.’ That is also my answer.”

  • What can we learn about Peres through this quote?
  • How can we work towards a better future?

On Building the State of Israel and the Jewish People

The death of Shimon Peres brings to an end the era of Israel's pioneers and founding leaders. Through Peres and his contemporaries, we witnessed a generation committed to founding, building, and sustaining the Jewish nation.

“My goal in life was to serve my people, and the most important service for the Jewish people is building the land, and the basics of building the people and the country is working the land.”

“You are as great as the cause you serve and as young as your dreams.”

  • What are you committed to?
  • What does it mean to be committed to an idea or a country?
  • Who is your family/community? What will you do for them?
  • How do you view your commitment to Israel?

On Leadership

Peres lived his life guided by fundamental principles. His committment to his people and humanity at large continue to provide hope for the future.

“When you have two alternatives, the first thing you have to do is look for the third that you didn’t think about, that doesn’t exist.”

“The most important thing in life is to dare. The most complicated thing in life is to be afraid. The smartest thing in the world is to try to be a moral person.”

Discussion Questions:

  • What makes a great leader?
  • How do you leave your mark on history?
  • What values and morals guide your life?

On Israel's Military Strength

Peres was a lifelong advocate for Israel’s need for military strength. Peres himself was instrumental in Israel’s development of its military power and nuclear capabilities. Later in his life and career, he became a leading advocate for peace and reconciliation with Israel’s neighbors.

“So me as a young man and I think that was the reason why Ben-Gurion called me, was to find a way to create our self-defense establishment. And it was very very difficult, almost impossible. We had to work hard day and night in a creative manner to build our defense system. The minute I felt the Arabs are open to negotiation, I said that’s what we prefer too. We weren’t looking for war. We were looking for peace and security.”

"We know that no military victory will be enough. There is no permanent security without permanent peace. Just as there is no real peace without real security."

  • When do you think it’s important to emphasize strength?
  • Do you think it’s possible to both strive for military strength and advocate peace and reconciliation?
  • How do we find balance between conflicting values we cherish?

Conclusion

As we look back on Shimon Peres' life, we reflect on the exemplary life he led, and the future that he helped shape. From an early age, Shimon Peres lived his life in service to the State of Israel, holding many government positions, and until his last days, was committed to working towards a brighter future. Inspired by his words and deeds – some final questions to guide our reflections:

  • What does it mean to be a founding leader?
  • What does it mean to lose a founding leader?
  • How do you leave your mark on history?

>> Resources on Shimon Peres