The Jewish Agency’s February board meetings are generally less attended than those in either June or October. And, it was hoped this week’s meeting could take place in St. Petersburg, Russia; however this was not to be. As a result, the organization has gone out of its way to include several high profile speakers and events.
This morning, to a packed auditorium, Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel and elder statesman par excellence, opened the winter meeting.
Saying that it is no longer possible for one to distinguish between the fate of the Jewish people and the fate of the Jewish state, Peres stated, “The State of Israel cannot exist without the Jewish People. We should not permit ourselves any division. I’m not talking about passports, but about Jewish identity. It’s not about where we live, but in which direction we’re moving historically.
… We cannot permit ourselves a division between the Jewish People of America and the Jewish People of Israel. Because of and in spite of the difference, we must arrive at a spiritual understanding.
… I think there exists a great call for a Jewish spiritual revival and re-moralization against the dangers we face. The Jewish agency must look to bridge the Jewish world together. The Jewish people are made of so many variations that it is almost un-Jewish to choose one of them. Let’s be open, tolerant, and decisive at the same time. If you ask me what is my dream about Israel and the Jewish people I would sum it up in a very short way: that we remain as old as the Ten Commandments and as innovative as nanotechnology. That we stand on our historic values while not giving up our attempt to discover a new world and build more hope. We have to be spiritually clear and keep our togetherness. Our Jewish heritage is a treasure, let’s guard it, and be together.”